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Andre West
Posted on Sunday, June 04, 2006 - 09:56 am:   

How My Childhood Vision Started Dream Quest One

I remember my Head Start schooling like the back of my hand. I am left-handed so I guess I meant, that particular hand. The year was 1975, when I graduated from preschool with a cap and gown, tassels and a Master of Rhymes diploma. On that warmer summer day in July, I had a wonderfully wide, bright-eyed, one million watt smile on my face. I was five years old back then. Like the poem written by John Tobias, “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity”, “it was during that summer when unicorns were still possible; When the purpose of knees was to be skinned.” A time when my friends, my brother and I caught lightning bugs (fireflies), ants, grasshoppers, ladybugs and that occasional wasp or bumblebee we would put into jars to be amazed by the natural beauty of it all. I lived with my family in Chicago, Illinois’ West Side, in a low-income, poverty stricken multiplex building. Located in a group of row houses called the ABLA Homes, also known as “The Village”. I still had some of the best days of my life growing up in the “Projects”. I didn’t even know we were real poor first at list the first 7 years of my life. Being born in to poverty, does it really make a difference to a child growing up within a loving and caring family? I don’t think so.
Well, as time passed when I reached the first grade of elementary school I was told that I am a “Gifted” child. I guess that suppose to mean that my mental aptitude or intelligence quotient was above average including my vocabulary and reading comprehension abilities and skills. As a child, all I wanted to do was to be like other kids and have fun. I didn’t care about being “gifted” nor did I fully understand what that meant in relation to me. I went to different classrooms for instruction than most of my peers. For example, I went to a Junior Great Books Foundation Reading Program (http://www.greatbooks.org). Through text-based discussion, shared inquiry strengthens critical thinking and civil discourse, promotes reading and the appreciation of literature, and provides people of all ages with a powerful instrument for social engagement and lifelong learning. Today I ask the questions, what is average? And what is normal though? Today, I realize that all I need is “plain ole common sense” in order to live successfully in this world. However, going to reading discussion group at an early age was kind fun. I also went to exceptional art and music program as a child. Art has taught me that sometimes your mistakes can turn out to be a breakthrough, a discovery, an unknown solution and a masterpiece.
At home, I remember being about six years old when my loving mother would read my bedtimes stories. My favorite book in whole world in which I still have the original book she gave me is, The Berenstain Bears, “The Bike Lesson” by Stan and Jan Berenstain. It is about a young bear whose father buys him a brand new bike and teaches him what not to do in order to safely ride it. My mother would read my favorite book to me with gestures and emotions that brought reading to life in my imagination. After beginning reading at an early age, my mother would sometimes have me read her a bedtime story before I went to sleep. Soon after, I found that I didn’t care too much for reading illustrated books as much as books without pictures. So unlike my friends who liked comics and coloring book, I loved reading classic tales, fables, and any good book without pictures. I thought that pictures take away from the words I could be reading. And if a picture is worth a thousand words then a word is worth a thousand pictures.
As I went through grammar school, writing essays compositions, book reports and poetry was mandatory. I got a lot out of writing. I especially enjoyed writing the classic, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay we would have to write every year. I love poetry just as well. I mastered rhymes, stories and poetry. So, Did I see the Dream Quest One.com Poetry and Writing Contest in my future? Nope. My teachers would always tell me that I have a gift and talent for creative writing and poetry through the years. I always saw writing as being fun. I love having fun. I love writing, period! My name is Andre Lamar West and that is my pen name.
Back in the days when I was young, I continued to write stories and poems off and on. Having negative influences from some family members and hanging out in the streets of Chicago. I wanted to be highly educated and street smart at the same time. I wanted the best of both worlds. However, listening to other people say that, You’ll never make it, just like Glum from the book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift took its toll on my belief that, I will make it. It seemed that every time I had a great idea, it was shot down by a negative critic’s bullet and it hurt me dearly. It put holes in my self-esteem that could not be easily bandaged or sewed up. It feels demoralizing to think that you will never amount to anything because of someone else’s will. So, I was oppressed and held back my true thoughts and feeling about myself for fear of success, failure and rejection. I mean it rendered me inoperable to be imprisoned in my own mind. I then sought the comfort of being a legend in my own mind so no one could hurt me or feel my pain.
Well, after listening to my heart, a vision came to me in the summer of 1985. In starlit moment my life changed suddenly right away and my dream of helping others came alive. My mission is journey, not a destination. To encourage others to write stories and poems without the fear of success or failure is what Dreamquestone.com (http://www.dreamquestone.com) is here for today. Motivating and inspiring writing and poetry in all who want or need a push to continue forth on their journey in self-discovery in writing. We encourage you to be creative and to do so with or without a passion, if you love it I do. The Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest is alive and open to everyone whether experienced or not and whether published or not. It showcases the poetry talent, skills, and abilities or writers and poets alike. Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com to enter the current Dream Quest One Poetry and Writing Contest. The Dare to Dream pages showcases the works of writers and poets just like you who have stopped by along the way. Just one more thing before you go, did I mention that you must be able to show the world how you dream?

Dream Quest One.com is a good website that encourages, motivates and inspires greatness in the writer and poet in all of us.

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