Friday, April 12, 2013

On dreams

What about your dreams? I ask my father. Don't ask me about my dreams, he says.

We are driving me back to the hospital. We're talking about my rapidly aging body and the uncertain future it brings. I am explaining why, though impractical, I dream of traveling to Vancouver by train: I want walk next to the ocean while I can still walk. 

I tell him that his response makes me sad. He is silent. We're in the same place at the same time, but we don't see the same world. My dad sees a world of duties: be a family man, be a bread-winner, be a good son, where the specifics of each role are already carved out like a puzzle piece that he need only locate and fit into place. Dreaming, on the other hand, is risky. It involves seeing yourself not as you are, but as you could be. To dream is to imagine oneself as a fresh mound of clay: it is to imagine skillful hands moulding the clay into something beautiful. It is to give into the suspicion that you can become just as majestic and beautiful as a statue of Apollo. 

We dream the most when we are children, when our habits and characters are still developing. At 8 we watch movies, see heroes saving cities and then have dreams of fantastical powers. Then we get older. Our actions and decisions accumulate. We begin to feel the weight of a history trailing behind us. We find ourselves thinking about how the decisions before us will impact the ones we've already made: taking a spontaneous trip to Vancouver that could put my health in jeopardy feels all the more weighty when I have spent the last 5 years putting my health first. Rather than face this conflict, it sometimes feels easier not to dream. 

I booked us on the train, my father says the next day. It's a four day trip to Vancouver. He's going to take off time from work. 

I smile a deeply happy smile. 

Our dreams make us feel excited about the future, but they are also demanding. They ask that we live up to them. My dreams asks that I worry less about my body so I can let myself just be with the ocean. My dreams ask my father worry less about his duties so he can just be with me. 

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