It has been awhile since we've had a reader-suggested conversation which makes it high time, I think, to do so.
Today's comes from Anne Brew who tells me in an email that although she spent her career as a primary school teacher, she always liked loud engine noises and her undercover ambition was to
”...be on the deck of an aircraft carrier, guiding the jets in with what looks like two table tennis bats.
“Since Great Britain no longer has an aircraft carrier I suppose I would have to use an American one. And I suppose I would have to enlist to be trusted with that job.”
I get that. Similarly, though less exotic, I have spent years enjoying those lively dancing traffic directors in busy intersections when I see them. You know the ones – usually in European cities, sometimes standing on a box who make traffic control look like a fun to do.
I've always thought I would be good at that. And there is the obvious frisson of danger – not too much, just enough to keep you on your toes (so to speak) – that a driver might skim past just a little too close.
That possible career choice along with dozens of others have briefly engaged my mind as alternatives to where I spent my work life though none were anything I longed for or regret not doing.
One big unrealized ambition, actually a daydream, is not career- or job-related. It's about wealth.
There is plenty of good one can do for others with unlimited wealth and I like to think that I would do that. How many homes does anyone really need or cars or expensive gadgets and doodads.
That doesn't mean, however, that people of great means should not indulge personal whims; only that they should also share their good fortune. But that's for another time. Today, we're daydreaming.
If I had unlimited wealth, I would buy me my own large airplane, an Airbus 380, and outfit it as a splendid traveling hotel with living room, eight or 10 guest suites, entertainment areas, a world-class kitchen and chef.
For style, think updated, greatly enlarged private railroad car from the 19th century with luxurious fabrics on well-made furniture, fine wood trim and pretty little wall lamps.
There would also need to be an excellent gym because the reason for the big, roomy airliner with all possible comforts available in flight is to gather up certain friends, the ones who are adventurous about great good food, and travel the world eating the best there is in their places of origin in season accompanied by the finest wines or whatever local libations are the recommended accompaniments.
From Parisian haute cuisine to the biscuits and red-eye gravy in Nashvville. From a tajine in Marrakesh to lobster in Maine. Fresh gnocci in Rome, sushi in Tokyo and so on.
The gym, then, to keep our bodies from turning into Jabba the Hut.
You can probably tell that in odd moments, I've daydreamed this for decades, redecorating the plane as my tastes have changed, adding phones, movies, large screens and recently, wi-fi along with a mental list of restaurants as I read reviews from storied restaurants great and small from around the world.
I suspect that if this ever became reality, I would quickly tire of being always on the move but that does not detract from the enjoyment I get from thinking about it and that's all I really need from the idea – it's fun to imagine.
Anne Brew concluded her note to me with this:
“It suddenly occurred to me that as a 66-year-old woman living in the U.K. and not being a member of the armed forces, it's now certain I will never do this and it's come as a bit of a shock.
“Do you or your readers have secret ambitions that will now never be realised and how does that make them feel?”
Now it's your turn, readers. Following Anne's lead, what are your secret dreams – career or personal. Did any of you accomplish them? Was there disappointment when you realized you've reached an age when it won't happen? How have you, if necessary, dealt with letting go?