And so they did.
Allister's entire class sat at their desks with their pencils and their papers and their thoughts about who they were now and their ideas about who they would be in the future. And, one by one, they finished their tests, turned them into their teacher, and waited patiently for the results which would come the following day.
One by one, each student walked into the principal's office (a most official act). And, one by one, each student walked out with confirmation of their future (ie: a dreamer of dentistry was told they were most suited for dentistry), with brand new aspirations for their future (ie: a dreamer of dentistry was told they were most suited for surgeon general), or with yet another obstacle to overcome to get to their future (ie: a dreamer of dentistry was told they were most suited for the after-hours cleaning of dentist offices).
When Allister was called in, he stepped with weighted feet. Each step was a confirmation. And each other step was a rescinding of that confirmation. And what dreams, what thoughts of the future, what career choices were Allister's feet confirming and rescinding?
Allister did not know. He did not know what he wanted to be.
Or shall we say he knew what he wanted to be, but he did not know what it was. And, that is to say, that he did not know exactly what he wanted to be, but he did not want anyone to tell him that he could not be that. Does that make sense?
Allister wanted to fill his future with the stuff of his dreams. And I think we all can relate to the stuff of our dreams- how much of it is made of haze and fluff and vagaries. But, some objects shine there like nothing on Earth and some objects in a dream leave us warm with even just the vague memory of their glow. And Allister wanted to build a castle with those. Was that a career? Could that be confirmed with an aptitude test given to seventeen-year olds?
One by one, he followed his feet. He followed his steps, that seemed to lead to the principal's office.
And Allister thought of how far science and reason and life, in its full heart-pounding force, had come. How much was possible. The last century had only recently rolled over into the new one, the twentieth one (that we had officially recorded). The 1800s were the past now. There were automobiles and even airplanes, advances in medicine, advances in exploration, advances in thought, advances in social freedoms, advances in advances. What wasn't possible?
And one foot fell. And the next foot followed.
Allister thought of all history's great voices and how they chanted their thoughts from centuries long gone. How many there were, like a large and ever-growing chorus. And who, in the chorus, was told their part and who found out on their own? And Allister thought about how many had sung so loud in their time and were now muffled by the years that had engulfed them.
And, one by one, he took a step. And the principal's door, too, seemed to be walking toward Allister.
How could we possibly remember all that was said and all that was possible? Allister did think, at one time, that he could record them all. He could devote his whole life to remembering all that had passed. But, that had changed. When? Allister was not certain, but it was certainly a long time before his aptitude test had been taken.
And Allister reached for the principal's doorknob with the chorus of history's voices bellowing the lessons and lifestyles and pathways and challenges of the past for the future. It was a silent and deafening dirge. And Allister turned the doorknob because he suddenly felt there was no other choice.
How futile it all was. What did it matter who Allister was and what Allister wanted to do in life? It would be silenced eventually, anyway.
And Allister pushed the principal's door open and heard the purr of just the quietest whisper in his ear. So quiet that he almost mistook it for the creaking of the door. But, the whisper cut through all of history's loudest belting sopranos and booming basses. It was a mysterious voice, a voice whose identity was lost in time. But, the whisper was far from silent. And, as Allister stepped through the door, all he could hear was the whisper. It replaced the paralyzing dirge of the impossibilities of what needed to be overcome. The soft melody of the whisper echoed through Allister and bounced off the principal's floor, ceiling, walls, and perhaps even into the principal himself. Because, as Allister stood there and listened to the principal tell him what he was to become, all he could hear for certain was the principal say, "an astronaut."
For a few solid moments, all Allister and the principal did was stare at each other because neither one knew what that meant. In fact, no one in the world would know what the job entailed until Allister was far into his twilight years.
In the meantime, though, there were castles to be built- if not in that town, than somewhere far away.