Tuesday, November 11, 2008

RICK VON FELDT: Dreams, Youth and Possibilities

ONE: Children have so many dreams. Small ones, large ones. They dream of being astronauts, of becoming a princess or a queen or even a king. As we grew older, our dreams became the shape our futures would take. So my first question is when you were young what did you envision your future to be? And as a follow up, how does it compare to where you eventually arrived?

My earliest recollection of wanting to be something was as a teacher. When I was 2 or 3, my parents went to some kind of school sale, and purchased a whole bunch of school stuff. And suddenly, our play room had a whole bunch of those “one piece” desks with swivel chairs and lift up desk tops. And so – we played school. And since I was the oldest of the three boys – I was the teacher. Mostly because I liked making tests. Funny – I don’t ever remember teaching or studying. We just took tests.

As time went on – I passed a phase of being a lawyer – but decided it was too much school. I went through phases of wanting to be a politician, a priest and a businessman. I used to love to play office – thinking that having an “inbox” was just the coolest. Oh how I have learned to regret those words!

But as time went on – I was interested in two things: Advertising / Marketing and Psychology. I have always enjoyed those two items. I have ended up in marketing roles and training roles – and I think pretty much have followed what I want to do.

All that is left is my little fantasy about being a professional chef…

TWO: I sometimes fantasize about being able to travel back in time, but not in my current mid-forties body. I wonder what it would be like to become who I was in high school or college but with the knowledge and patience I’ve gained in the years since. Second question…if you could go back and become yourself at a certain time in life which time would you choose and why? And if you could only take one bit of knowledge or one trait you’ve gained as you’ve grown older (but not too old!), what would it be? And why again?

I think the year I might do over would be my very first year I traveled in UP WITH PEOPLE, a student group I participated in. It was in 1981 – and I had just turned 19 years old. The start of that year was in Tucson, Arizona, and the Frontier Plane trip to Tucson was my very first airplane trip. I knew a lot about Topeka, but very little about the world, religions, diversity and food. Not knowing much gave me the chance to drink deeply from the well of life. But I am sure that much of life passed me by as I spent each day trying to look like I knew what I was doing while I silently prayed ever hour, literally, for god to give me strength to get through it all.

That year changed my life more than any other year, and so I would not want to mess that up. But if I had the global wisdom I have now – I could have learned more, tried more, tasted more and been more. On the other hand, I went on and traveled four more years in Up With People just to be sure that I got those experiences. Lucky me.

THREE: As a writer, I started off as a reader. I began reading book after book when I was probably around 8 or 9. For me, initially it was mysteries then science fiction. Were you a reader as a youth? If so, what kind of books did you read? Who were some of your favorite authors at the time?

I LOVED READING. I think I remember thinking that might have been my first addiction. In grade school, we would get those little paper catalogues, and we could place orders for books. I was a crazy man. I was already working as a 10 year old at my Dad’s gas station and so I was rolling in the cash. When the book orders came in – it was like Christmas. I would order sometimes 6 or 8 books. Later, I learned it was must mostly the girls that were reading books. And when I looked at what they were reading, it was Nancy Drew. Nobody told me then about the Hardy Boys. And I always thought I wanted to marry someone like Nancy. So I think I read most of Keene’s books. I loved learning about her deductive reasoning skills.

Then, in 7th grade, secretly picked up a copy of the “Exorcist.” Holly Molly. That booked rocked my world. It was the first time I remember getting scared from a book that I had to stop reading it at times. It taught me about horror and the suggestive power of fiction. (And it taught me new swear words. In a book!) Today, mystery and suspense fiction continues to thrill me. Unfortunately, I so disliked reading about history, that I never came to really appreciate non-fiction and biographies. English classes ruined historic novels and poetry. The only thing we didn’t have to read in classes were Stephen King – and so he was my escape. And along with Dean Koontz, he continues to be.

FOUR: Back to the scenario in the first question…I’m wondering if there are any dreams you had which you did not achieve but are still working on, or hoping to achieve? What are they?

I mentioned one up above – that of being a chef. But it scares me – because I am fearful that I would destroy one of my forms of art. It is interesting. In general, I have found myself not exactly describe WHAT I would be – but what I would be DOING. I still have a fantasy that one day, someone sees me in the shopping mall, and wants to cast me in a new Star Trek movie. I also want to one day follow my hero Brett – as a professional author.

FIVE: There are many books in my life that have meant something to me. Books and stories that have stayed with me over the years. Some make me smile, some make me think, some even make me mad. The final question…please share a book that has meant something to you, and tells why.

The book that first changed my life (and others have followed) was a book that my parents had from an insurance course they attended. I was in 8th grade, and in those gawky years of thinking I knew what I wanted to be but unsure of how to get there. I saw this book on the table, and thought, “Yeah – that is what I want to do!” And so I started to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

That book did several things for me. First, on a prima facie level, it taught me to think out who and “how” I wanted to be. It taught me to focus on others instead of myself. I tried it. It was like magic. The book inspired me to make major transitions in how I looked – what I said and how I interacted with people.

The book also went on to make me so much more interested in human psychology – and to think more and more about what people do what they do. I was inspired to continue my studies in social psychology. And I learned about the secrets of personal reinvention and change.

I have given that book away to many people – young and old since. I occasionally, I pick it up for some great wisdom and reminders!

1 comment:

Jennifer Rabold said...

Rick... Don't do it. Don't become a professional chef. I've seen too many people try this route and lose their minds, lose their money, lose their marriages, and lose their love for cooking. But, an interesting idea I read about a year or so ago, but can't find info on now... chefs who develop theme dinners and serve them in their own homes or in other people's homes, often in a last-minute mystery locale kind of way, a sort of a moveable feast... thus getting around all the red tape involved in running a restaurant and reducing the financial risks. As a matter of fact, I think you've done this for free, for friends, as I experienced many years ago in Boston. Interested?