I am married to a dreamer. You would not think a software engineer would be such a dreamer, but he is. For years now, he’s been saying things like:
“When we build a cabin and live up north…”
“When we live in England, we’ll do so and so….”
“When we live in Fiji…or Belize…”
And I confess that I had fallen into the Grinch-like habit of laying out all the reasons why those dreams are impractical. “I do not want to live in Fiji, I want to be near my sons. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll have grandchildren.” Or, “Live in remote Northern Minnesota when we’re old? That’s not the best time to contemplate living many miles away from decent healthcare.” I’d also say helpful things like, “Less talking. More doing,” thinking about the practical to-do list that was not getting done while he was busy building castles in the air. And then I quit arguing, and changed to silently rolling my eyes, thinking, Just let it pass and he’ll forget about the latest scheme or dream…. What a Grinch I was!
Then an old friend of mine shared a blog post written by her step-mom, Pamela, whom I’ve never met. I read it, and was shot between the eyes with an Aha! that made me realize how foolish I’d been to wish away the dreams of the man God has given me.
The post is called Dear Young Ones. It was written recently, though inspired several years ago, when the writer and her husband David took a trip out to the area where his parents had been raised, and while there sought out and visited a few distant cousins. You can read her whole lovely post here. But I will share an abridged excerpt:
…Herman, a man well into his 80s, lived at the end of a long driveway. Herman’s house and outbuildings sat out in the open, exposed to the sky like farms on the central Illinois prairie. We were not invited into the house but kept standing outside to talk with Herman, who stood on the stoop, his wife standing behind him, silent. Herman might have invited us in (or he might not), but he was on his way out, hot on the trail , he told us, of a neighbor’s spotted pony he wanted to buy, and so we took our leave.
Our memory of Herman and the spotted pony entertained us for years. We would laugh and shake our heads and ask each other what that old man in his 80s thought he needed with a spotted pony! Lately we understand better and no longer laugh, although we still smile.
And this is what I want to tell you…. No one, no matter how old, ever gets over wanting that spotted pony.
David watches the special features that come with movies on DVDs, telling me, “I learned a lot,” as if he will be directing a movie in the near future, and I read farming magazines as if I’ll very soon be bringing worn-out soil back to fertility and breeding livestock. When we travel together, we assess strange towns and wild landscapes as if we might start new lives there. We picture to ourselves and to one another the wilderness cabins where our novels will be conceived and birthed.
We’re not deluded, young ones. We know what’s real and what’s feasible, and we do not regret the lives we have made. At the same time, our fantasies continue to blossom in ways that would astound you. It’s a jungle in there, fertile and crowded with possibilities of all kinds, and in that largely shared space – because a shared life is built on conversation – the two of us are still young and vibrant and full of dreams.
Our projects at home may appear small to you these days – insignificant and barely there. You may puzzle over my modest pile of old bricks and David’s four stout wooden posts and wonder, if you even notice them, what we hope to make of such small beginnings. Ah, but if you could only see our future with our minds’ eyes!
Spotted ponies! Spotted ponies by the thousands, still out there on the horizon, thundering along the ridge, raising clouds of dust!”
I am so thankful for that post that opened my eyes. I had been criticizing instead of relishing those “dream together moments.” Talking about dreams—the attainable and the fanciful— is not only fun, but becomes part of our shared life and shared history that bonds us together.
After reading the blog, I of course thought of my husband and shared it with him, telling him I planned to dream with him more and more as this life we share goes on. In reply, he wrote back, “You wouldn’t believe the number of spotted ponies we have in our future, kins. I can see them now!”
A month or so later, when I opened my presents on Christmas morning, I found this card and spotted pony among them. He had searched for just the right one. Across the strewn boxes and torn wrapping paper, our eyes met. And my Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes.
Do you love to dream? What “spotted ponies” do you look forward to in your future?