Copyright by The Kansas City Star 2008

Sometimes when I drive through downtown Kansas City, I get a little choked up. While you’re probably not surprised to hear that, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t guess why.

During my senior year of college, I worked for my college town’s chamber of commerce. One of my responsibilities was to work with the city’s downtown improvement committee, and at one point, I found myself attending a regional conference about downtown revitalization.

It turns out that our town was not the only one facing a declining downtown area, and among the attendees were several people from Kansas City. As they talked about their dreams for a new downtown Kansas City, I listened with no small amount of skepticism.

See, I was from Kansas City. I’d seen its crummy downtown. And while I absolutely believed my small college town could spruce up its small downtown square with a little elbow grease and fancy tax reform, I could not imagine for a minute that the city of Kansas City was going to revitalize its downtown district.

Flash forward 10 years – and I was wonderfully wrong. Kansas City has completely revitalized its downtown, complete with a shopping and entertainment district, a world-class sports and concert arena, and a brand-new performing arts center. With the brick sidewalks and budding trees, the shiny new buildings and trendy little storefronts, the whole place has been scrubbed and washed and rebuilt and renewed. Just like they said it would all those years ago.

Driving through downtown reminds me that sometimes dreams come true – even though it takes a really long time. And even though people don’t believe in you. Even though it seems overwhelming and impossible to even get started, much less finish.

And looking at that literal, physical, tangible dream come true, I get a little teary-eyed. Because even though I don’t know who had the original idea or all the many steps they’ve taken on what was undoubtedly a long, difficult road, I’m incredibly inspired by those behind the transformation.

At this point in my life, I haven’t seen any “big dreams” through to completion yet. But I’ve been at the ground floor of new ideas, lofty goals and big dreams for important causes. And I’ve felt the frustration of watching those ideas be criticized, those goals be ignored and those dreams fade away. So I can only imagine what it’s like to decide one day that you’d like to revitalize an entire area of a major city – and then, more than a decade later, see it happen.

I can’t really imagine that, but I like to try. Because when I face my current dreams and goals, the story of Kansas City’s downtown (or at least the few pieces of the story I know) inspire me and keep me going when the dream seems to take too long.

Do you have any dreams that seem to be taking too long? What keeps you going or inspires you?

This post was inspired by Jon Acuff’s post today: Longevity is the New Sexy.

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