If you can imagine it

Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat
Herald Democrat

For many years, my mother had a saying on the wall at home, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”

I never thought much about the non-descript plaque among so many pictures and paintings on the walls. Yet, when Mom died, I got this plaque; and display it proudly among the few others in my own home. I read it every day, whether out of habit or simple prominence in my line of sight. It has come to have special meaning in the 18 years we have been without our mother.

I never thought of her as a philosopher or this saying as a profound tenet for life, but as I study each word and phrase over the years, I see in its simplicity a basic concept for human advancement. Mom knew this – probably why she bought it – and she wanted others, especially her children, to strive for.

The idea strips away all obstacles: ‘If you can imagine it”…that’s all you have to do. Yes, of course, there is work to achieve it, BUT you can do it…if only you imagine that you can. “If you can dream it”…if you see yourself doing your goal, THEN you can get there…it takes that first step.

Of course, there are many and difficult steps in some goals, but for every person (any person), it can be done…IF you imagine and dream. There are so many examples in life of people doing this simple thing. We revere them and are amazed at their story, but really, it all started with some imagination and a dream.

Some are spectacular, such as playing in the Super Bowl as some local athletes have done; some are simply to be the best in your chosen field. In my lifetime, there have been countless people I know do just this simple thing. I couldn’t possibly list them all much less know them all. I do know one classmate, Geralyn Bednarz Kever, who fought in college to get an engineering degree in a male dominated field. She persevered and went on to work as an engineer, became McKinney School Board president[ and was elected to the McKinney City Council.

Another example from my Class of 1978 (SHS) is Charla Glass Aldous, a Dallas attorney now, but back then, she wanted to do something few women aspired to do. Charla did the college thing, completed law school and began defending people against corporations and huge entities. She is routinely voted one of the Top 10 attorneys in DFW nowadays; and has won so many cases that she is in high demand.

And it all started with a dream and an attitude that put her in that role; Geralyn, too.

Before the coronavirus – earlier this spring, the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Men’s and Women’s teams were playing in their conference basketball championships. I know a couple of the women on the team; and keep up with their progress. Every player on both teams saw themselves playing basketball at that level and dreamed it would happen. They put in the work; and now, they achieved that goal.

In Boomer Sullivan Arena, where SOSU plays, there is a display for Jerry Shipp, probably the best basketball player ever to come out of Durant. (Yes, even ahead of Dennis Rodman!) Shipp was from Blue, Okla.; a few miles from Durant. He was an orphan in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was finally adopted at age 16; and had a knack for playing basketball. He went on to play for Coach Boomer Sullivan (hence, the arena’s name) at SOSU. But that’s not the end of the story…

Shipp imagined he could play at even higher levels and dreamed he would. To make a long story short, Shipp played with the Phillips 66ers and the NY Knicks in the late 1950s. He won a gold medal as a member of the USA Team at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. In fact, he was the leading scorer for the team, which boasted Bill Bradley on the roster. Shipp was also the leading scorer for the US team at the Pan American Games and the World Games the same year; the first person (man or woman) to achieve such a feat. He donated his Olympic Gold Medal to the school for display to show what imagination and a dream can do.

I didn’t do anything as spectacular, but I believe in the sentiment of my mother’s plaque; the one I see every day and try to live by in a humble manner. The one I have up on the wall so my children and others can see…and imagine…and dream.

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.