I have been pondering on dreams lately. We talk a lot about dreams, but what are they, really? We can have bad dreams when we sleep, and, if they are bad enough, we call them nightmares. We refer to waking nightmares as well, and of experiences that are “like a bad dream.” In both cases, we are making an analogy between real-life experiences and the sometimes not-so-good dreams that occur when we sleep. But it seems to me that our good sleeping dreams are differentiated from our waking dreams, which are always of a positive nature. They both refer to something that is not real, but rather than one being an analogy of the other, it seems we hold two different meanings for what our waking dreams represent and the good or ordinary dreams we experience when we are asleep.
Are our waking dreams always good things? Do they represent the things that we feel we were born to do, before life got in the way? Are they fantasies designed as a way to escape the stressors of our work-a-day life, in no solid way meant to reflect a life we would rather be living than the one we are currently living? If given the choice, would we choose our dreams, and, if so, what keeps us from choosing them now?
Before Gail and I left on this journey, we both had so many people tell us that we were embarking on their dream life, that, if they could, they would be doing exactly what we were setting off to do. I was completely taken aback by these comments. I had been ignorant to the rising popularity of setting off on a vagabond’s journey. It was news to me that this life I currently lead is a life so many are choosing, and a life still so many others would love to live. What is it that is leading to this new trend? I also found out that there are two somewhat separate road life worlds: the RV world and the van world. I had no idea. My idea of living on the road was formed around the desire to go out and explore, and then write and photograph what we observed. The choice to live in an RV had to do more with its effectiveness in accomplishing what we hoped to accomplish, while allowing enough space for two people, who needed their own privacy, and four cats.
I had never been an RV person. I have slept in my parents’ and my aunt and uncle’s on a handful of occasions, but I’d never dreamed of owning and camping or living in one. I am a tent camper. That is something wholly apart from what I do now. Now, Knight is my home, and it makes all the sense in the world to live this way to me. Not because I live in an RV, but because I live a life in motion. Was this my dream? Not at all. It was a decision born out of an idea that, in and of itself, was not really a dream either. I do feel like now I am living a dream. Mostly a wonderfully intoxicating dream fueled by my surroundings and the freedom in my days. It is still terrifying sometimes. When I think about it a little too much, or in the wee hours of the morning when the ghosts of our fears tend to rise up in the darkness and take hold of our thoughts. This life itself isn’t terrifying, but, rather, the idea that it could end because of the realities that come crashing down. No matter what, you cannot avoid the real world, and one has to make a living out here in order to make a life out here. There is no one way to do that, but, for me, there are plenty of ways not to do it. At some point, you have to believe in what you are doing. Believe in the power of your dreams to carry you down the path that is right for you. And then put one foot in front of the other, doing what you love, living your passion.
Before I left Champaign, I happened upon a book. It came at the right time, it was the right story, to read as I was ready to take a leap of faith into a great big unknown, with only the vaguest of notions as to how we would turn this idea into a real way of living. Daphne Kapsali took her own leap of faith when she quit her job to go live in a family home on the Greek island of Sifnos to find out if she really was a writer. In 100 days of solitude, she writes of this journey, of her surprise to discover that her own story inspired so many others, or simply made them believe that sometimes people could chase their dreams into reality. I am now reading it a second time, because Gail and I are making choices out here that are scary, and it helps to know we aren’t the only crazy people out here, and that sometimes crazy pays off. I have to believe that, because it is more frightening to believe otherwise.
It is now October. It is past the season of vacationing. Yet, here we sit in an RV park outside of Taos with fellow RVers. Even as the days get cooler (refreshingly so) and the nights get colder, the park swells with newcomers and then drains to nearly empty–except for the long time renters, like us, and more permanent residents who are evidently preparing their RVs for a New Mexico winter—only to swell yet again. I watch these comings and goings, and I wonder how many of these people are living their dreams. There are all kinds of RVs in this park. Big bus-sized ones all the way down to the cutest little trailers. Brand new and flashy or old and worn around the edges. Have some been forced into this life due to circumstances beyond their control? Is their home on wheels not the choice for a dream life, but a necessity for survival? Who are the retirees and who are the work-while-adventuring folks? And who is simply, unglamorously, down on their luck?
The other day, a very large RV moved in across from us. This one is rougher around the edges, and everywhere in between. Duct tape has been put to good and plentiful use in ways that I cannot even fathom to what purpose it is intended. Inside resides an apparent couple and two large dogs. The license plate tells me they are from Colorado. I wonder what their story is. I get the feeling it is not necessarily a happy one. I send out good vibes hoping that, if this is the case, their luck turns on the power that hard times can sometimes hold, when we have no other choice than to rediscover who we are and what we really need to survive and what is truly important to us. Sometimes, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain in finding what really makes you tick.
As I said in the beginning, living in an RV was not my dream. So what was? I’ve had a lot of dreams in my life, and most of them have centered on the freedom to travel and explore. If I was born to anything, it was that. In this way, living in an RV is allowing me to fulfill a dream. But, out here, I find my dream is shifting into a new shape. It is stretching in different directions and filling in with color. It is still evolving, and I find that I don’t yet have the words to name it, but I know it has to do with exactly what I am doing right now. It has to do with nature, with creativity, with the people I meet along the way, and those I simply observe. It has to do with quiet and turning inwards. It has to do with the stories of others and of the places I visit, as well as my own. I can’t name it just yet, but I will enjoy the journey of discovery. In spite of the scary bits.
What are your dreams, and what do they mean to you? If you had the choice to do anything or live any way you want, what would you do? How would you live? Please, feel free to respond in the comment section. These questions are part rhetorical and part tossed out there in the hopes that some of you will answer, because I really want to know.