‘Dreams Deferred’ – Mark

‘Yes. Not Yet.’

Since the age of 13 managing his own paper route for $25 per week, Mark has dreamt of owning his own business. I always felt like that there was something more. Every morning, I would get up and dream as I rode my bike delivering newspapers.” In part, out of necessity, Mark has worked nonstop since the age of 13— working through his high school years and even working a full-time, night-shift job while he went to college full-time. His parents divorced when he was 8 and their mom largely raised him and his 2 brothers. If I wanted something I had to work for it because my mom couldn’t pay for anything. The job that she had was barely enough to pay the bills.”

His family’s financial issues drove many of his choices; attending a local college while he worked full-time to help his mom to finding a higher paying job in high school to take on bills in the house. All to help provide stability to the family that he loved. So, instead of potentially chasing some wild dream, Mark chased another dream— stability, getting a “good” job and the ability to provide for himself and his future family. Now he has a good job in IT and has been able to provide for his family. “Dream complete,” says Mark. Despite this, the dream of doing more, of doing something entrepreneurial continues to fester in him throughout the years. He’s tried his hand in many ventures from short-stint attempt at modeling to vending gumball machines for local businesses and he has an even larger list of ideas he’d like to pursue from franchising to moonlighting in the sports field; one of his biggest passions.

Mark’s story doesn’t run counter to many of ours who’ve found ourselves on paths driven by external reasons and now challenging what we actually want for our own lives.

In this image, Mark is sitting on a stack of old newspapers in an abandoned business left unattended which now serves as an eye sore and makeshift dumping spot for nearby construction. Abandoned dreams also don’t heal and they don’t go away. The scar reminds and pulls us towards what is often necessary to nurture ourselves into complete fulfillment.

Mark, interviewed on December 15, 2016

‘If you can’t beat fear, do it scared.’

The path that Mark’s life has taken by most accounts has been a great one. He has a successful 22-year marriage with his wife and 2 teenage children where he will see his eldest off to college this fall. He has a strong spiritual foundation and this comes up several times as he wrestles with the conflict of potentially pursuing what else is out there for him with staying put where he’s at today. “I always looked at what is God’s will for my life. Is this what he really want? Does he really want me to do this?”

He looks back at his life and praises how he’s been blessed with his wife and kids. If he had made a different decision at any given other point, what would have been the ramifications? So he looks forward and he knows that there is “no other better time than now” especially as his kids are getting older but doubt and fear are keeping him still. “The question is am I ready? Yes. Do I have the capacity to overcome my fears? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Will I do it? I don’t know.”

If anything, his journey has taught him to guide his kids differently than what he had growing up. “So I tell them now just do something you love and they know that.” When asked at the end of it all, what might be just as satisfying for him in place of his deferred dream, Mark answers like most loving husbands and fathers would, “Part of the dream is already fulfilled if I look at my family. I have a family and have provided for them. I got all these underlying dreams but if everyone is happy, that makes me happy. That’s satisfying. I mean it sounds corny but it’s true. It’s true.”

This image places Mark at Historic Parrish Street in downtown Durham, NC often referred to as Black Wall Street celebrated for its thriving Black-owned entrepreneurial spirit and financial enterprises dating back to early 20th century.

Mark, interviewed on December 15, 2016

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