Christmas Day, 2014
This afternoon when I spoke with my cousin who lives in Italy. I asked if he would be taking a walk to the beach tomorrow and he said he planned to. (A touch of envy rushed through me.) Our frequent conversations end with “See you soon.” He is caregiver for his father, who is in failing health, and we find we can talk about that. He has become a treasured friend! And it all started because I believed in a dream.
It was the summer of 2003, when I traveled to Italy to visit my cousins on the SE border of Italy. This was after doing a couple of years of genealogy research. It was beautiful! I will never forget the Adriatic Sea, that shade of blue, the sparkle on the water, the grandeur. Therefore, the trip to Italy was a watershed event. Moreover, I expected to continue to have adventures.
I made plans to go back the following summer and teach at the University, but my father died the night before the trip was to start, so I cancelled the trip – not because I was forced to, but because I thought of DUTY before myself. I have not returned.
I gave up on dreams at some point in my life. When something wonderful happened, I just assumed it was an accident, even if it was something wonderful, like going to Yale for graduate school. Instead of dreaming about good things to come, I worried about what might block those good things from happening. I had plenty to do about my nightmares – fear them, try to wake from them, try to therapy out of them. I never had a dream about the future; I had a laundry list of fears and anxieties. I always expected that plans would fall through, and I would be stuck.
When I moved to the Midwest, I wanted to work on my research on the beloved Aleuts, the tribes of fishermen in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. I have 10 or 20 pages written. I also have a thick and growing manuscript about “bystanders” and it is calling for attention. Now, I think I wonder if am getting too old. I know it sounds silly, but remember, I have not been much of a dreamer, and the habit needs reinforcement.
Once I have a dream, I need to pull it into the realm of possibility. What made me visualize a book with my name on the title page? What made that come true? I worked like heck and I kept the image before me. A dream became a plan, which eventually became reality….. with a great deal of sweat, tears, frustrations, crumpled paper along the way. Now, too, I have tools – personal confidence, no more whiteout, no manual typewriter, some money in the bank (not a lot), and a commitment to take care of myself. In addition, I have plenty of ideas.
I still dream of working at a retreat center where I could write, teach, counsel, and live … tick tock tick tock … time passes on. The next steps seem easy enough. Making a list; checking out possibilities; using online resources; expanding my connections. I know the place where Sharon Salzburg sometimes teaches in Barre, MA. I could go there for a visit, could I not? I am going to take another class with Sylvia Boorstein (online); could I not find a way to sit in the same room with her in California? And surely, surely, I could get a ride from the airport to Laura’s place for a retreat.
You know -if you know me at all – that I have been trying very hard to see the miracles in the present moment, to be more awake, to notice the good stuff. But the future? I do have dreams … First, I need to want them enough to chase them down.