Last week, I wrote a post answering the questions I begged you to ask me. I gave readers about a week to get their questions in, but there’s always got to be that one guy who waits a little too long to participate and thinks he can squeak in with no one noticing. That guy is Phil Taylor from The Phil Factor.
Phil asked me, after I had already posted my answers, If your life could suddenly be perfect, your dream life, what would it look like and what little step are you taking today towards that?
Now Phil and I have a pretty good rapport. We’re both unapologetically sarcastic and will often joke back and forth with each other in the comments sections of our respective blogs. We’ve fine tuned it pretty well at this point. So, you’d think it would be easy for me to come back with some sort of witty quip, but I couldn’t.
Worse still, I couldn’t come up with a genuine answer either. It was early in the morning, I had yet to caffeinate. Maybe that was it. Ginormous cup of tea down the hatch, breakfast and writing. Still nothing. I could not visualize, in any sense, what my dream life could be. Homeschool math and lunch, another cup of tea. Still nothing.
Surely every person has visualized their dream life of the future. Imagining winning the lottery and suddenly living a life with no economic barriers. Or creating a goal in your job or your relationship, perhaps you want to be a CEO one day or have a kid or two. Maybe you want to travel the world or take up a new hobby. Everybody has something they dream about.
I asked myself, what is wrong with me? Why can’t I come up with something, anything? Why can’t I dream?
Oh yeah, I’ve been too busy being sick.
Your world gets small when you’re sick. Everything closes in. Dreams are no longer measured in decades and lifetimes. They are sometimes measured in minutes or hours, weeks if you’re lucky. One more hour until I can have another zofran. My husband will be home in 15 minutes and I can go to bed then. MRI is next month and then I’ll know if the chemo is working.
For the past five years my life has been in a tailspin. If it wasn’t recovering from surgery it was trying to afford it. If it wasn’t pleading to get insurance approval for chemo it was figuring out how to endure the side effects. If it wasn’t learning how to walk independently it was facing the reality of my physical limitations when I finally could.
Last weekend we went to a local art festival. The weather was unseasonably warm, but it was a nice day anyway. Our son has always had a love for photography, recently expressing a desire to take a more serious interest in it. He was looking forward to adding another piece to his small collection, another item he could hang on his wall.
The work of photographer Walter Arnold was the first to catch my son’s eye. His exhibit was called The Art of Abandonment and it was visually stunning. We purchased a print and had a nice chat with him about his method and practice as a professional artist. He was incredibly kind and would have spent the entire afternoon talking to our son, if not for the line of folks waiting to purchase his work.
On the way home we talked about what a nice day we had and where our son wanted to hang his new photo. It morphed into a discussion about how we had just encountered dozens of artists and craftsmen that had worked hard to perfect their craft and make a living from it, or at least a partial living. See, it is possible to forge your own path, son. Never stop dreaming of what may be.
I sit here, remembering that hope I tried to give my son about never letting your heart die, as I watch the beats in mine grow more silent. Where is my hope? Why can’t I dream?
I can never hope for perfect health in the future. The vision of my running a marathon is gone. There will always be physical limitations now, emotional scars. Recurrence has happened once already. The possibility of it happening again is there. It looms. It hovers, even now that there has been space and time.
The everyday stress is beginning to lift, though. As the vice slowly loosens from my head, as I chip away at the debt, as I get further from the days of oral chemo I have hope that dreams of what may be will replace fears of what might come. I long for them. My heart aches. I want the luxury of being able to want again. I crave daydreams.
I don’t know how to answer Phil’s question today. I don’t know what my dream life is. I can’t fathom perfection, so I have no idea how I’d even begin to get there.
When you’re sick your world does get small, but humans have an insatiable desire for largeness. Mankind feeds off of infinity. I am no different. My dreams will come back slowly. They may be interrupted at times by chaos but they will return, just like my hair did when chemo tried to steal it. The human body forever looks to rebuild. The human mind follows suit.
I don’t know how to answer Phil’s question today, but that doesn’t mean I won’t know how to answer it tomorrow or the next or the next. The dreams may have stopped, but the desire for them hasn’t. For now, that’s enough, but I look forward to the day when I want more, when I close my eyes and dream a little dream of me. I welcome the day when I get lost in what may be.
*Featured image is a shot of the print we bought. The photographer/artist is Walter Arnold and this piece is entitled, The Face of Death.