I’ve never been one to hang motivational posters all over my bedroom walls, nor am I the type who looks forward to the next affirmation from an inspirational quote daily calendar. Actually, I’m more the Far Side daily calendar type. But there is one quote I heard about 20 years ago while watching an interview with Antarctic adventurer and explorer Norman Vaughan that hit me at my core and has resonated with me ever since. He said, “dream big and dare to fail.” I like that. When I heard that quote, I’d already been making life decisions with that spirit of chance and adventure. However, once somebody puts an ethos that really clicks with you into words, it makes it easier for you to incorporate it into even the most mundane aspects of your life. Buy a home or rent? Dream big and dare to fail. Go for that off-road magazine job or stay put where I am? Dream big and dare to fail. Two-ply facial tissue or single-ply? Dream big and dare to fail. On the one hand it’s a confidence booster to go out on a limb when you normally wouldn’t, and on the other, it expunges culpability when it all goes wrong.
That said, having a quote like that rattling around in your brain can also be trouble if, for example, you have a penchant for oddball vehicle buildups and a job that encourages that sort of thing. I’ve done some wacky stuff in the 16 or so years I’ve been an off-road magazine guy. My most far-fetched one was my hot rod-inspired ’48 Willys “prerodder” pickup. I built a 550hp roller-cam Olds 455 for it, whipped together a 5-lug, 14-bolt rear, and caged it all up for big bypass shocks. I had just started in on the long-travel J-beam front suspension when life caught up with me and fab time vanished. That was about the most ambitious build I actually undertook, and I never did actually finish it, so I guess that big dream failed. Nevertheless, I’m still glad I got as far as I did, and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat even if the outcome was the same.
As for the hundreds of other vehicular dreams I have, but haven’t pulled the trigger on (yet), I think it would be outrageously cool to find an old fire truck and convert it with a 5-ton military drivetrain, create a supple heavy-duty airbag suspension, add awesome shocks, and outfit it to be a long-range expedition-style exploration rig. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), the higher up the editorial food chain I go, the less time I seem to have for stuff like that. So until I hit the lottery or find a few hundred extra hours in the month with nothing to do, big builds like that will have to remain a dream. But one day I will actually get around to it. After all, ya gotta dream big and dare to fail.