The Lost Dream

It was 8:30 at night.

He was neither young nor old. He wasn’t slight or heavy. His hair was brown, curly and blunt.  A do-it-yourself haircut. He wore an old t-shirt and ragged pants.

I looked at him as he was pulling a big trashcan out of a store.

The lights were already dim doors ready to close just a couple of more chores, and then home.

I could feel the ache in his body from working on his feet all day long. Emptying the trash after sweeping up is the last task before locking up. His is a job for the teenager or for a student, and yet he has the look of someone’s father … someone’s husband a someone who is as tired as he is.

It was 8:30 at night and most of the other small stores were closed.


Who is this man and what’s his story?

I don’t know. He just happened to be there when I was driving by. Traffic stopped; my eyes just wandered – and then I saw him.

·      What dreams did he have?

·      Did he tell his parents that he wanted to be a fireman when he grows up?

·      Did he have parents?

·      Did he grow up aimless, not sure of who he is and what to be?

·      Was he a promising musician, artist or actor who devoted years to his craft and became one of those “who did not make it”, without any alternative plan?

·      Was he recently fired or laid off, not knowing what to do with himself – taking any job available just to make some money or to have health insurance for his family?

·      Did he ever imagine that at age 45 he would be making minimum wage like his son?

So many dreams and so much pain.

A middle-aged man pulling a trash can and sweeping the floor, slowly, achingly without hope.

      man walking on street


About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
This entry was posted in Aging, Illusions, Laid off, Lost dreams, Minimum Wage, Money, The American Dream, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to The Lost Dream

  1. Maureen says:

    A lovely poem – and timeless.

  2. Amy Ebert says:

    Very touching & sad, Rachel. I hope those who have achieved their dreams are grateful & have compassion for those who have not. Maybe the man is a non-traditional college student & is weary because he still has to study once he gets home. Maybe he’s still pursuing his dream while working to support his family. I find the people of L.A. so fascinating…so many people come here to pursue their dreams and are at various stages of possibly achieving them. Some make it & many do not. I admire their courage to come here & try.

    • rachel bar says:

      Of course I don’t know anything about this man. I saw him and created my vision, based on his body language, appearance and the expression on his face. Many people reach their dreams and others do not. If you read the comment by Glenn Wood, you’ll see one of the fortunate ones:)

  3. Margot says:

    For me, the most interesting part of the blog is that it is like that picture where you can see different things based on how you look at it … a vase or two faces, an old woman or a young girl. And who you see, of course, impacts how you feel. I feel sadness and compassion.

    Too long between blogs, Rachel! I miss them!

    • rachel bar says:

      Yes, Margot. Maybe at a different time, different mood, or even different lighting, my story and my perception could have been a cheerful one. Who knows? I write it as I feel.
      Glad to hear that you miss the blogs. I only write when I feel inspired.

  4. Maria Shufeldt says:

    His identity or life story may never be know. Some (like you), really see him, pause, and wonder. Some glance, and pass by without a second thought or care. *Our* own identities and stories result from these kinds of choices, every day.

  5. Glenn Wood says:

    This could have been me 15 yrs ago when I was out of work and had few prospects. I had a willingness to do anything to make money and a good work ethic to back it up but needed an opportunity to let those two things work for me. And luck, good old-fashioned fortuitous luck, came my way and now I am pretty well off. What if it hadn’t? What if the times now would have been prevalent then? No matter how good people are, we all need luck, random good fortune, to smile on us. I hope it does on this gent as well.

    • rachel bar says:

      How wonderful, Glenn, that you are one of the lucky ones. I am in complete agreement with you re: Luck. We often want to see the change in our life as a result of some cosmic or divine intervention, and quite often unwilling to see the randomness of it all.

  6. Martha Carr says:

    It’s your noticing and your ability to express it that touches me. You paint a beautiful visual story and bring us into your experience by articulating your thoughts. It brings me to things I have sometimes noticed and wondered about but maybe never shared. Thus those moments merge into oblivion.

  7. Interesting piece…and I love the Why? factor of it…I often wondering why people are in a certain place at a certain time..or why they choose to do certain things..Or is it a choice at all?…either way it is HIS~story

  8. Linda Joan Lipp, MFT says:

    Rachel, your sensitiivity to this man comes from a deeply caring place. If only all the world could learn to connect as deeply — many things would change. I wonder often about how much of life is truly random. Was it random luck to have taken computer classes for fun at a time when it created an opportunity? Was it random luck to get cancer? Is there a guiding intelligence that creates justice in some realm (the hope of much of the human race), or are we simply part of the natural world; a species with a random chance of survival, living on a planet with periodic catastrophes that wipe out large amounts of life? Belief sustains me, yet I learn all I can about science. My belief/hope is in a God of Love, who will welcome me into an incredible energy and wholeness and whose judgement wil inspire me to grow eternally. Belief like this does little harm, and might help the man in your vignette. In the end, whatever is will be. Science and God are one, and we are pawns in the game of Life.

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