Pt 2- Dreams
Once upon a time, I read a passage in a novel that struck me profoundly.
Queen Guinevere, reflecting on life, sees that the young believe their growing up- gaining knowledge and money, power and status- will bring them more choices in life.
Then how she’d learned that lives become not wider, but more confined, by the consequences of choices we make and the overwhelm of choices made by others.
Strangely, when I re-read that book years later, the passage wasn’t there. Perhaps I’d dreamed it. Perhaps my soul was sending me a message I needed to hear as I embarked on an adult life that’s certainly had its share of narrowings and overwhelms.
And now I’m the other side, in a regained widened space.
My kids are grown, my father’s passed away, and I’m on the road, backpacker, grey nomad, waltzing my matilda on an open-ended journey.
So many people tell me how lucky I am. Living the dream they say.
Really, I think, is this your dream?
Jealous, some say.
(I shiver when I hear that word, make signs, avert the evil eye)
I won’t go into the realities of monadic backpacking right now. I’d rather do that with humour and I don’t feel funny today, heading to Gallipoli.
I’m solemn, like the Dawn Service, like the Recessional echoing through Sydney canyons.
But I accept that my travelling is a dream.
Not as in a ‘dream boat’, a sugared fantasy. Not as in a ‘dream house’, the envied culmination and ‘got it all now’ haven.
But as in a multiply confounding, dislocating, provocative profusion of half digested image. Where things change as you look at them and maybe nothing is as it appears. A royal road yet barely there track through the ‘vale of soul making’, this world.
My travelling life is so little about ‘sightseeing’, though I do keep my eyes open.
It’s more like a mobile retreat. So much time to observe in solitude, pay attention to small things, to just be there with no role or obligation beyond breathing. To loosen old chains, ponder on shadow and meaning, privilege, trust, hurt and renewal, identity and choice; to open up to the extra-ordinary or retreat to my hotel room de jour.
That’s not what people envy though, cos it’s not what they imagine.
That’s just my way, the way that I create it. My choice. And that, I think, is what people envy, if they do. Or aspire to, or wish me well in.
The privilege of choice.
This brief chance to roll though possibilities, for better or worse. Before the next run of no-choice narrowings – an accident, old age, illness, stroke, confinement and death.
My daddy’s dead.
That stern and generous man who ‘paid it forward’ long before that phrase came into vogue.
Who knew that ‘privilege’- that he worked so hard for and passed on to me, unearned – carries an obligation. Pass it on, do some good. Pay for someone’s doctor, help them on their way.
A year ago, in my Bali time, I wondered what he would think of my life now, wanderer, dreamer.
Then I saw him in repose in clouds above my house, and took it for an answer. It’s OK.
He was bound to his commitments. And he set me free to roam.
If my living ‘the dream’ in these hotel rooms and bus stations, ruins and foreign streets, throws a ray on others in their confinements or creativity, confusion or compromises
we’re still paying it forward
by being where we are.