A friend of mine was recently told he had leukemia. He had a big doctor's appointment coming up to consider his options. Already there had been dozens of tests, doctor appointments and wringing of hands prior to this, the mother of all appointments. He would be given his options and, in his mind, his death sentence. He could think of nothing else. The situation overwhelmed him and he just knew this was it; his days were numbered.


I felt completely overpowered by his dismay. We’re both Catholic, so many of our discussions circled around our faith-in-common, but it felt as though he had already given up the ship. It seemed that he had resolved himself to dying.

One goes through a lot of thinking at such times and dying is a solitary game.

My epiphany, however, came just days before his big meeting with the doctors, family by his side, a list of well-prepared questions in his hand.

“What is it you want?” I asked him.

He looked stunned. He was completely thrown by the question.

“What on earth does that mean?” he responded, almost disgusted. “How could you ask me such a question?”

“What is it you want to happen here?” I pressed. “Your meeting with the doctors: What’s the best possible scenario?” I pressed forward unphased by his anger.

After stuttering and stammering, aghast that I could ask such a thing of a man in his last moments, he finally yelled, “That it was all a big mistake. That the doctor would tell me I’m in perfect health and there was an error on the test, a wrong file or some crazy thing and send me home… now, are you happy? I can’t have it. But you’ve made me say it and now I am done.”

“I’m sorry,” I replied.

Now. What place does this story have in a business magazine, and what does “naming” our truest hopes or dreams, even in the darkest moments, mean in an entangled world such as ours. Please, stay with me here.

Through all the conversations my friend and I had, the tears, the regrets, he never dreamed or even named the outcome he really wanted, no matter how crazy or impossible. He simply resolved himself to the destiny seemingly ascribed to him.

Don’t get me wrong. In this finite world, there are many limitations to our physical lives on this earth. No doubt.

“The world of dew–A world of dew it is indeed, and yet, and yet…” wrote Issa, Japanese poet and man of much suffering over 250 years ago. Little has changed.

I don’t wish to oversimplify life’s darkest moments. A set-back isn’t always a definitive ending; sometimes it’s success that was simply previously undreamed.

There are many unsettling things going on in our country today: the economy, jobs, health care, and more. But there are also grand dreams of better times that propel us toward, not our diagnosis, but a world that we see in the dreamer’s eye, or the developer’s vision or a manager’s purpose.

Eric Bolton of Mid-America and Thomas Lowder of Colonial Properties Trust certainly saw a vision years ago that is only coming to fruition in nothing less than some of the most challenging economic times the country has seen. The merger of their two companies will make their new endeavor the second largest apartment REIT in the country with over 85,000 units.

Texas insists on being the over-achiever with jobs, jobs, jobs despite growing by 4 million people last year alone. The state continues to set the bar with lower taxes, less stringent labor laws, no corporate or personal income tax, and the list goes on. Some simply choose to follow big dreams, even inside a storm of dire economic times.

And my friend? The doctors told him it was all a bad mistake and that he was actually in perfect health.

It doesn’t always go that way, but when it does, it sometimes begins with thinking bigger than ourselves and dreaming big dreams.

Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukah. Here’s to a new year ahead that fulfills your greatest dreams, whatever they may be.

We, at MHP, look forward to being part of that story. All the best, my friends.