HEAD ABOVE WATER
★ ★ ★ ★
TO ALL THE DREAMERS
By Tim Clark
Recently one of my coworkers, a friend, we’ll call him Brian, quit. Brian is going to buy some land and start a small organic farm. It has long been a dream of his. As far as dreams go it is probably a good one. Difficult but achievable, the bench marks of a good dream. I told everyone I was glad he quit. It meant one less birthday card to sign every year. In an act of cruel irony someone handed me a going away card requiring my signature. I was livid.
One of my dreams has always been to take a desperate stand in the face of overwhelming odds, to strike a blow for the little guy. To commit a futile, foolish act of rebellion that will ripple through the ages, bring hope to the hopeless and cheer to the wretched. But I’m not brave and the thought of public shame has always stopped me short of doing anything too noble. Here was a chance to start a guerilla movement, not really open defiance, but not blind obedience either—hey, it’s my dream. I didn’t sign the card, crossing my name off the list and passing it on. It was genius! I will never have to sign another birthday card.
In many ways, though, I am a little envious of my friend. He knew what he wanted to do, and he is going to do it. Most of my life my only real goal has been staying under the radar. Just do enough to get by and not attract any real attention. Until I was thirty I just drifted along until I found someone who was doing well and hung out with them. Normally I looked for someone who had a car so I didn’t need a license, or checking account, or permanent address, but could get a ride. Not much of a dream but I nailed it.
I used to dream of being a musician, an outlaw gypsy troubadour with a guitar slung on my back, a harmonica in my pocket and a song in my heart. Three guitars and countless harmonicas later I came to realize music requires a sense of timing and rhythm I will never have. Plus, I can’t carry a tune in a wheel barrow, so I had to pass on that.
For a short time, I dreamed of carving, discovering the hidden piece of art in a simple piece of wood. Chipping away the bits that were hiding the treasure, small scale, craft based archeology. Coaxing the creature hidden inside to come to the surface. Painting, and nurturing my own creation. I bought some some sharp knives, chisels, small blocks of wood, and several containers of paint and I was off.
Stitches hurt almost as bad when taken out. Just an observation. Maybe because they didn’t use any anesthesia, maybe it was just a trick of memory, maybe it is the build up of shame and humiliation from admitting how your hand slipped defining the nose on a sleeping dwarf. “It just kind of slipped, sliced across my palm, and came to rest just short of the Ulnar Artery in my wrist. And it cut off the nose!” “Yes, I was very lucky.” “Yes, I know this is going to hurt, again.”
A new dream of mine is to make movies. I have dozens of apps on my iPhone, my iPod and my laptop. Since my wife, occasionally, reads this column I am not going to tell you how much all the apps cost, but they were worth every penny, and I need them all. I have a digital camera that transfers my pictures and movies using Wi-Fi, and big dreams of creating a masterpiece. Not really a staged production, with actors and scripts, dialog and plot, anybody who knows me would tell you I can’t plan that far ahead or follow a path that straight. So, I decided to make a travel extravaganza of our vacation this summer. So far, I have completed the Amazing Introduction, and the rest will follow.
Of course, I always dreamt of being a writer. Not like Hemingway, I want no part of tolling bells, civil wars, or big game hunts. And not like Steinbeck, who mined the depths of misery and despair, and painted it in such vivid detail you sometimes forget where the writing ends and life begins. I have become a writer, in my own way, after my own fashion. I am a diarist of life, the good, the bad, and all the stuff in between, but mostly just the stuff in between, there is so much.
It is a good dream, too, because it lives and breathes, grows with me, pushes me, and guides me. It waxes and wanes, but it is always there. Life is an elaborate play, and sometimes the action is off stage, and you have to make up the story. People rush from one place to another and never take time to think about their dreams, a story all its own. Somebody has to occupy the cubicles in the federal building on High Street, but you can still take the time to close your eyes and dream of your own version of “Brian’s organic farm.”
Today, more than ever that is why I write. To tell the story of people who dream and people who forgot how. Everybody has a story. Sometimes it is as simple as “I hate my job.” Or, “That was the best lunch I ever had.” Sometimes it is a story of loss, regret and pain, a few tears waiting at the bus stop, or joy and ecstasy, shiny, smiling faces that can barely contain the happiness. But it is always a good story, I am always interested. I raise my coffee cup to all the dreamers, and all their stories.
Tim Clark lives in Columbus, OH, where he works for a small warehouse. He is proud of his marriage, but he would have to ask his wife how many years it has been. He has a blog about life and the perils involved. You can see it here, Life Explained. He writes occasionally and with pride for Street Speech, a local homeless advocacy newspaper. He is contributor for Mercurial Stories, Writer’s Newsletter, Cross and Bull Stories, and has stories in anthologies from SmartyPants Publishing and the coming edition of Blank Tapes. He is particularly vain about his monthly column on The Wild Word. He is working on his first novel, based on a series of short stories, random memories, and imagination.
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