The Power Of A Dream
September 7, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
The Power Of A Dream
I was up late last night, captured by some sense of urgency to complete a couple of projects. I am going to work on my camper today and needed to stain some boards. I should have done that days ago to let the odors dissipate but at least they will be dry. So too, I oiled an old harness I had packed away years ago. It was in poor shape when I found it and even worse now but the oil will improve its appearance. It is a wall hanger in all respects but now it will find a new home. I am selling it, along with so many other old things I no longer see a use for. If they once gave me a comfort I required they are now more a burden than a pleasure. Perhaps this is a function of age, or maturity, or simple satisfaction with my chosen lot in life. It is now full enough of all the wonders of experience that I no longer need these ‘things’ to assuage me. The empty spaces they leave behind are even more liberating than the small financial return I will receive from their sale. What I cannot sell I will give away!
I will mention one other thing about this harness. As a horsewoman I have an affinity for leather and tack. Having ridden and driven horses and mules all of my life each piece of leather becomes a serviceable piece of equipment worthy of respect and good care. This practice is also practical, the equipment cannot perform without being in good condition and could be injurious to horse and user if it breaks. Picture the harness in particular, connecting the horse to a heavy load and its passenger as well. So it was, as I oiled and straightened the brittle leather, that I marveled at the repairs it had suffered before it was tossed in the crate I purchased it in. As I pulled the last bunches of some long dead horses hair from the creases, (it must have been spring time as it was in bunches) so I came to rivets and wire where the leather had been patched back together.
This harness must have belonged to a man of meager means. As old and dry as it is I would date it back to my youth, and I am fifty nine years old. I would imagine at that time it was an essential piece of equipment, not some pleasure horse and buggy of our modern days, though there were some pretty rivets on the carrying piece behind the collar. The reason I bought it was the collar braces were still in good repair, essential as they are. Still yet, whoever last used the equipment used it until it was no longer good enough to trust and they either retired themselves or simply never retrieved the useable pieces that remained. I imagine they must have just walked away from it for as frugal as they were it is surprising that the collar braces were abandoned also.
My reason for even mentioning this is more personal than the nostalgia. Whoever it was that so depended on this now defunct piece of equipment, it was his livelihood. A man of meager means who set to work with his horse each day to eak out whatever living he could find. Or perhaps he plowed a field each year to provide sustenance for his family. All told he made do with what he had and if I am romanticizing the possibilities, it is what I heard as I oiled the tangled remains of the harness. The thing is, if someone came here to this house after I had been gone for a few years and saw it, minus the creative efforts that grace every wall, they might think the same. It is what I saw when I first arrived. In fact, I live much the same way old Ernest Wright, the previous dweller here, lived. Or not, he used the gas lights and had no need for the generator, and he kept the windmill in good working order as he ran the water to the kitchen sink. I have done the same in years past but for the moment lack the funds for the repairs, or to fill the big propane tank, so I carry water instead and use either the generator or kerosene lanterns for light. I am sure I love the woodstove as much as he did, and I built the hearth for my summer needs, as I would rather burn wood than gas.
The point being is that he, as I, embraced the necessity as much as he created it. We too appear as people of meager means though in my case it is by choice to live so, as it may well have been his. He lived here for more years than I can imagine and stayed until he could no longer do so. I require the simplicity and embrace it whole heartedly, but I don’t have to live that way. I no more than have to pick up the phone and make a few calls and I could be employed, but I don’t want to, not yet! Even going forward I have every intention of keeping it simple, though I will improve on things where I wish, including the income to do so. If for now I am content to take a well-earned handout and savor some leisure time I am also laying the groundwork for the time when it will no longer come my way. By November I had better have a plan in place or things might not be good.
This leads to the power of a dream. If I worked late last night so I slept late this morning. I woke at dawn but dozed off again and in the ensuing hour dreamt a vivid and powerful dream. Forgive me, but I am a wastewater operator so for whatever reason it is what I dreamed of. Still in all it was out of context. I have spent my career learning and working in a basically rural environment, not the industrial size ones of the cities. In fact, I have seen very few systems that handled more than a hundred thousand gallons per day, yet I dreamed I was in Ohio at a much bigger facility. I dreamt I was at a training there and the processes were amazing and such as I had never seen performed. I am still marveling that my imagination, and some part of my education, allowed me to create and experience such detail! The insight will stay with me in more ways than one.
That was it, the insight. When I awoke I was able to recall every detail of the dream, and even the faces of the workers. The fascination remained with me also and in those waking moments I had a life altering epiphany. If I am absolutely content with the utter simplicity of my life at this moment I know from experience that I could either allow myself to settle into it and languish or I will find the need to venture forth once again. My desire to attain a few more goals will lead me forward and if I have already formulated a plan, so it is clearer yet. If I intend to teach now I see the lessons as they need to be shared. If my audience will be as rural as my own experience, so now I see the larger picture. If my purpose was already clear, so I see it fully.
As if in answer to that my phone rang before I even combed my hair. I was standing on my porch marveling at the stillness of the air. It was so still in fact that I could hear the whoosh of the ravens’ wings as three bird flew past above the hillside. I was nearly holding my breath so as the follow their passage for as long as I could hear them when I was interrupted. I stepped back inside to answer it. One of my previous coworkers has just moved into the lead position at a wastewater plant and his call could not have been more timely. He is now responsible for the things I was doing before I was dismissed, and far less qualified in experience for the task. He is qualified in his abilities, he simply lacks the education and experience. If I was directed through my environment and education to seek a viable means of supporting myself I never envisioned myself in a place of authority. Neither did he, but in the same way I was he is capable of the same, and willing to pursue it. If my intent has been to fill that need with my outreach and teaching, so I had the immediate chance to offer the same. Such an affirmation it was to my dream and first thoughts, and more than coincidental from any perspective.
So there is a lesson, as there is in all things. I have lived so much of my life in a deliberately slipshod manner. There are those who would argue that, and I would have to agree because I have also been focused and professional, but only insomuch as I have chosen to be. I might have achieved far more in the material sense if such was my intention, but it never has been. If I have cultivated my skills and applied that energy to so many efforts, so I have stepped back and lived as I am living now, riveting and wiring the proverbial harness in order to keep it in usable service. I will leave behind the remains of that effort in my passing also.
Who knows, that same harness may have graced the back of some fine well bred horse, the better equipment sacrificed for the ownership of the same. So too it may be with me. If I have lived a very simple and basic existence, content with the bare minimum of creature comforts, so I drive a really cool array of vehicles and live a glorious comfortable life by my own standards! I can continue to have both, while also filling my obligation to the broader realm of our existence, without sacrificing the simplicity and peacefulness I have defined my life with. I can venture out to those places I wish to explore and reach out to those like myself, who have embraced a life of community service by providing for others essential necessities. I can go back to those water and wastewater plants where I have spent so many of the last eighteen years and instead of working there I can help those who have taken my place. I can do this for two or three days at a time and then return to my roost and my fire. If this was already my plan, the dream and the phone call affirmed it.
When I sell that old harness I will point out the repairs that kept it in service for so long. If I have the chance I will also share some of the insight it evoked. That pile of dried out old leather and the treasures tangled within it have sat in my shed for more years than I can recall. If I have looked at it I never took it down until just a few days ago and only yesterday applied the oil it had begged for from the start. In doing so late in the day I also chanced to watch the moon rise over the hillside. I made appoint of savoring the peacefulness and the ritual of the care to the leather, as I have done so often in the past. It left me with a lasting insight, and somehow evoked the inspiration I discovered this morning. Such, is the power of a dream. What a fine way to begin this new day.