Check out parts 1 and 2 of this ponderous piece of… exposition, that ye might understand from whence we have come and wherefore art we goeth.
OK – so I have some ideas of things that I dream – things that exist in my heart and mind, a lot of which may never see the light of day. They’re important though, because they’re a little window into how my head works. For my own mental development, as well as for my beloved to see some of what’s going on in there (instead of having it mumbled at her, shotgun style and random), it’s worth the time to wade through it all.
First though, this real-life note…
My mom had zero patience for dreams. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” was one of her standard replies, fired off anytime I would articulate something she considered foolish. Another chosen smackdown was to ask why my head couldn’t get around practical things, instead of all that junk I would fill my mind with. Get my head off of those useless things and on to the stuff right in front of me.
(Like math, for example. She could never understand why math makes no sense to me. Ever. When I got A’s and B’s in geometry, she was convinced I had been playing games with her head all those prior years of D’s in math. After a seminar on “Hemispherical Tendencies,” my left-brained mom called her right-brained son and said, “now I understand why I’ll never understand you.” Have you ever seen or heard a frustrated teacher-mother try to drill multiplication tables into the head of a right-brained dreamer? No? Be very VERY grateful…)
“But the mother and child reunion, is only a motion away.” – Paul Simon
Thanks. Steve the Hamster and I feel much better now…
Now, this isn’t a “resolving issues from your childhood” therapy session. Really. It does say something to those of you who live with dreamers, though –
Dreamers, especially young dreamers, are tender souls, and contained in those ponderings are some deep windows into their hearts.
But that ridiculous, improbable dream contains a little nugget of what makes a dreamer tick. There’s a little bit of them in there, mixed in with the whimsy and wishes, and when the steamroller of reality comes in, doing 60 in a 35 zone, a little bit of a vulnerable heart turns into roadkill. And part of what remains of that heart gets a little hard.
Yes, reality must rule. But it doesn’t need to rule with an iron fist.
Just a word from a dreamer, who’s been squashed a few thousand times. I’m impractical, I dream useless things that’ll probably never ever EVER come into reality…
(Like getting our old sax quartet back together, expanding it with wind controllers, recorders, and technology that didn’t exist back when we played together, and making it into a totally gnarly awesome group, dude!
Oh, and a contrabass clarinet and a bass sax added in there too. I miss playing contra.)
(How about a dream of hooking up with a couple of other musicians, along with computer assistance, to do a live performance of “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield – the whole, original album. Only the tympani would be in tune this time, unlike on the original recording. Vicki, my personal tympanist, cringes every time she hears it.
Three musicians, extra tracks, Tubular Bells… *sigh* Did I mention I’m a Mike Oldfield fan? Or that I own almost every version of Tubular Bells on CD? Or that I even know that there are multiple versions of Tubular Bells? Shower my wife with your sympathy sometime, ‘k?)
(And yes, I do even know who those other musicians are, what parts and instruments they would play, and how the thing could lay out. When I dream music, I dream in 3D.)
The preceding dreams brought to you by Steve the Mental Hamster, sitting in the corner laughing at me…
The danger is, there’s a little bit of me in every one of those dreams, and that little piece of Cal can get flattened easily. Dreams are all well and good, and in balance they are breath for the soul and light for the eyes. There are a couple of dangers, tho, especially for young dreamers:
1. If all dreams come into being, roll around for a bit, and then fade away (or get squashed into oblivion), then the lesson we learn is to never dream, because none of them ever become real. This can be a hope destroyer – don’t bother dreaming, because they never happen. Things never change. It is what it is.
To quote the bard, “A man will grow tired and his soul will grow weary, living his life in vain.” (“Ammonia Avenue” – The Alan Parsons Project)
A dreamer needs to learn the balance between dreams and reality, and where the two intersect, but that’s something they have to discover for themselves. It can’t be beat into them with a rubber mallet. (or a rubber chicken, for that matter…)
2. The opposite is true – if we dwell in our dreams, but never live in the here and now, then life, real life, becomes dead and stale, never joyful, never beautiful because we’re always waiting for our dreams. Nothing is ever quite good enough, nothing is ever quite fulfilling enough, because it’s never quite as amazing as what I’m dreaming of.
For example, I have to be very careful what movies I go see. Sometimes, I get so taken with a movie that a part of me wants to stay there. I’ll imagine extended story lines, complete with how I’d live in that world. Imagination is great, as long as you learn how to let it flourish without trying to live there.
Dreams are beautiful, wonderful, fragile things, but they’re never strong enough or real enough to live in. (Albus Dumbledore reminds Harry of this when speaking of the Mirror of Erised in The Sorcerer’s Stone)
Thus endeth the mini-lesson about dreams and dreamers. Amen.
In her book “Smalltopia,” Tammy Strobel (she of the Rowdy Kittens blog, one of my faves) writes about defining our dreams, and small steps toward bringing them into reality…
Pick one dream, then pick one step you can take today to bring that dream one step closer. Repeat.
Being the short-sighted just-barely-starting-to-grow-up-even-though-I’m-fifty-two-years-old person that I are, this is a good plan for me, for a couple of reasons:
1. I have a terminally short attention span when it comes to long-range planning. I could be working on surprising Vicki with a trip to the Shack (bed and breakfast – not the book…) and need to sock away every penny I can scrounge to make it happen, but I’ll throw it all over for some bright and shiny thingie that grabs my attention, forgetting all about the bigger goal.
Dave Ramsey says that the difference between a child and an adult is the ability to delay gratification and keep your eyes on the long-term goals… I’m growing up pretty fast, but not quite there yet. “Ooooh… Shiny! Pretty! MINE!”
(The only quote I ever do from Finding Nemo: “Mine? Mine! Mine? Mine! Mine? Mine! Mine?”)
2. Along with that short attention span, I have a tendency to get bored with projects that take a long time, or get so overwhelmed that there is so much to do and it’ll take so long to finish, that I just give up. (This had its roots in the days when I weighed 480 pounds – back then, EVERYTHING took too long to finish, was overwhelming because even the simplest things were hard to do, and there was no energy left over for anything, so all dreams die and despair reigns. Things have changed, thank the Good Lord above, but digging out the roots takes time.)
Interesting but sad and pathetic note… This last reason – my tendency to just give up – explains my musical career.
Take someone blessed with a tremendous amount of natural ability in music, (God gets the glory for this – it ain’t nuttin’ I done did myself) who can pull off a lot without having to work really hard at it, and add that tendency to get bored with things that take a long time or a lot of work, and what do you get?
A person who can play almost anything, but doesn’t play any one instrument excellently. Or as I put it, I’m not outstanding at any one instrument, but I’m really passable at many. In other words, I’m a musical Swiss army knife – good for a lot of different functions, but not the best tool for any single, focused task.
** Before you roll your eyes at me, say something like “I wish I was that ‘adequate’ at anything musical,” or slap me upside the head the next time you see me (head or body slaps are fine, but please – no face slaps…), understand a couple of things:
First, I love you. Thanks for leaping to my defense.
Second, I don’t deny the tremendous gifts God has placed in me, nor the way He allows me to use them – to fit into any space, wherever I’m needed in a musical setting. I’m one of those musicians on the worship team (not the only one, ’cause we are blessed with some amazing people!) who not only needs to know when I’m playing, but WHAT I’m playing on a given week.
(One of my favorite memories from early college: I was home, for a weekend I think, and came in late to Oscoda Baptist. Came down the aisle during a hymn while all were standing, and Jim – songleader and musician maximus – caught my eye and looked over at the piano. Cue received. I went over, sat down, and became the pianist du jour for the service. I love doing that sort of thing!)
God knows me best, and knows that as I’m growing up, I still have issues with getting bored with just one thing. **
So, (If you can even still remember where the heck I was going with all that… I had to go back and check.) the plan of “pick one dream, then pick one small thing you can do today to make a step toward it” is a good plan for me. And as I take one small step, I’ll hopefully find that perhaps I can do two or three steps in a day. Maybe I can take some bigger steps, while keeping the longer view in mind. Then I can make some bigger moves, learning to see where it’s all headed.
Then Vicki finally gets that trip to the Shack. (the bed and breakfast, NOT the book. Just so we’re clear.)
Steve, ramp up the “Final Thoughts / Winding Down” theme music, please… No, I don’t think the tiny bagpipes give the feel we’re looking for here… No, not the tiny accordion either… Ah, the very tiny harp. Perfect…
So what have I learned from this long, rambling, self-centered, introspective examination?
(Ba-dum-DUM! He may be a mean hamster, but Steve is always ready with a rim shot…)
But seriously, folks…
• I’m a dreamer.
• Dreams are fragile things, that contain a tiny piece of the their dreamer.
• Dreams change and grow, just like we do.
• Dreams can come into fruition with time, patience, and small steps.
Working a long time to bring a dream into reality seems to get a little easier, the more that we grow up. (not being grown up yet, I’m not certain about this – I’ll keep you posted…)
The whole “growing up” thing also shapes and molds our dreams. It helps a dreamer learn that while dreaming is good, not all dreams are possible, nor should they be. Growing up allows us to focus the lens, to really see what matters, and to see the clear and shining path God lays before us. (For the record, I’m not giving up on the Chapman Stick, no matter how impossible it seems. There. I said it.)
Dream one, I think, will be to live a smaller life. It’d be nice to do that in a tiny home with a big garden, but there’s no reason we can’t start living tiny in our present home. We’re already starting on small steps – you wouldn’t believe the amount of junk we’ve already launched, and you would be horrified at the amount there still is to get rid of.
(If you’re an Ebay, Amazon, Craigslist or any other kind of selling ninja, and would like to help a scatter-brained old fart actually make a little coin while launching tons of stuff that I’ll never need again, while keeping some coin for yourself, contact me. I’m deadly serious, and I’d rather slip some love to a friend than pay someplace to sell it for me. Goodwill is all well and fine, but it’d be nice to get a little return for some of this stuff…)
Steve – put down that trombone! Sorry – he thought it was closing music time…
So, like most things in this journey I’m on, it’s a work in progress. I never would have seen this stuff coming on the morning of March 30th, 2010, but I’m so glad it has, looking at it from my chair here in February 2012. Vicki is too, for the record – she’s gladly traded many trips to the Shack (b&b, not book) for a husband who’s alive and shows potential of actually becoming an adult – soon.
In some ways.
This transformation only changes so much – there ain’t no cure for crazy.
(Ok – maybe electroshock. Don’t suggest that to her, though. Seriously.)
‘lemmie sum up…
God provides the best dream of all – not being who I was yesterday and making steps toward who He wants me to become. Together, we’ll keep taking those small steps toward the goal, the one He can see and allows me glimpses of. Not all of it – just enough for me to handle.
After all, I am and will always be…