The Ghost of What Might Have Been

Scouts, I heard a great story once. It was about a man who had an evening to himself. His wife and kids had gone to a church Bible study and he got to spend the time alone. It seemed so quiet in the house. It was never this quiet. The man sat in his favorite chair and fell asleep.

He awoke with a start. He could hear someone in the next room. Thinking that it was an intruder, he slowly got up and made his way quietly down the hall. A man was sitting in a chair and he was painting a picture. It was a beautiful picture of trees and mountains and a gentle stream. And it was also vaguely familiar. The man was almost sure that he had seen this painting before. And then suddenly, right before his eyes, the man and the painting disappeared.

The man went back to his favorite chair. He dropped off asleep again. He woke up hearing someone singing in the next room. He looked at the clock on the table by the chair to see what time it was. Maybe his wife and kids were home and he just hadn’t heard them come in. But it was still too early for them to be home. The man got up and went down the hall again. He listened to the song. It was a beautiful song. And it, like the painting, was strangely familiar. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but he knew he had heard that song somewhere before. He turned the corner to see the same man standing in the center of the room. The stranger was singing. But suddenly he disappeared.

The man was disturbed now. A strange man. A familiar painting and a familiar song. Too creepy! The man looked around his house to make sure that nobody was there. When he was satisfied that he was alone, he went to his chair and fell asleep. He woke up this time as he heard a squeak in the next room. He knew what that squeak was. It was his desk chair. Somebody was sitting at his desk.

The man stood and quietly made his way down the hall a third time. As he turned the corner into the next room, he saw the same man sitting at his desk. The stranger was drawing something. As the man approached, he thought the stranger looked vaguely familiar too. Just like the painting and the song. The man looked to see what the stranger was drawing. It looked like an architectural drawing of a building. And it looked familiar as well. He knew he had seen that building before. Where had he seen that building?, the man asked himself.

The stranger turned and for the first time, the man could see the stranger’s face. It was like looking in a mirror at himself. “Who are you” asked the man.

The stranger smiled. “I am you. I am the ghost of what might have been.”

Scouts, I love this story. The man was looking at himself. All the things he had seen were his own unfinished dreams. He had dreamed of writing a song. He had dreamed of painting a beautiful picture. He had dreamed of designing a beautiful building. Those ideas were still inside his head. They might have become reality if he had carried through, but he didn’t. So they remained unfinished dreams.

Scouts, finish what you start. Never give up on your dreams. Make time to develop the dreams in your head. Work hard towards making them happen. So that you won’t be sitting alone sometime in the future dreaming of “what might have been”.

© Bill Shaffer 2004