Monday, 21 September 2009

castle in the sky

I went to a children's birthday party the other day. At this house. Suffice to say, it's not mine. (I could say: "in my dreams"...)

People talk about dreams in the abstract, far away in the distance of another reality- or unreality. But this house was - is - the embodiment of someone's dream. The couple who built it, had also built another one - and at some point, prior to finishing it, came upon major financial problems, and ground to a halt. A big halt. It was all documented on "Grand Designs", a popular TV reality show we have here in the UK which - yes! - documents the architecture of dreams. Literally. People who build their dream properties from scratch. Who watch, day after day, as the fabric of imagination takes shape in bricks and mortar (or vast expanses of glass, metal, cement, wood). Very addictive.

Well, this couple (in Clapham, London) had built their house around a protected tree: an innovative solution to wanting more space but being unable to chop it down and extend into the garden. All very interesting. But, what is more interesting to me is that once obviously wasn't enough, problems and all. Sometime later, they built a second ground-breaking house (the one I was honoured enough to visit. They're not there, by the way. It's rented out.) It had become a habit, dreaming. And then making dreams reality.

Now, I hear you - "this is a different planet!", you scream, "not my little life, of mortgage payments, credit crunch misery!", etc. "These people could afford it! This is the world of people who have serious cash!" But: listen up! We can all dream, can't we? 'Cos only by dreaming do we give ourselves the first lift up the ladder to making imagintion reality - one day, somewhere, somehow. If you believe all is possible, I'm not saying you'll make it possible - but you'll certainly lay the groundwork to bring it nearer. Hard work, self-confidence, and a mad, mad belief in turning straw into gold, then have to be added to the pot. Stir, keep on working hard, don't lose sight of your goals, and sometimes - just sometimes - you'll achieve what you thought was impossible.

Dreaming and persisting are all we have, those of us with ambition (and if you don't, I envy you - truly! - you're at peace, are you not?). To dream is easy enough. To persist is harder. Even when your purse-strings are long, to undertake major innovative projects still requires balls. So there you go. It's just all about the varying degrees involved. But the two key ingredients, the dreaming and the persistence? - the substance of those doesn't change, whatever your starting line.

Myself, I persist in dreaming, in laughing, in seeing the silver lining. Even when, at home, my once-perfect marriage flounders into dull silences and shoulders turned as we pass in darkened corridors, wordless. Live on mumbled acknowledgements or falsely upbeat matter-of-fact discussions involving kids, logistics, dates. Disinterest numbs the air. Two parallel but diverging lives, bound by the glue of two little children who love their parents equally. Yet I persist in believing it's all for the best, persist in finding light where there's shadow. I can't allow myself to give up. Things will get better. And so I walk round smiling, outside and inside. Because I know there are plenty of dreams left to make me smile.

And, I persist in stirring up those bubbles of social enthusiasm, even when friends slowly return to work (the kids are at that age now) and the school run gradually becomes vacant of familiar faces. And when long-lost souls from recent reunions seep back into their lives over the ether, reminding me the past is the past and the present's entirely separate. Again, when my chosen vocation accessorizes one silver laptop and a cup of green tea as companions over hours of the day. But I won't be reduced to feeling lonely! Oh no, siree!! It's all temporary. I'm working towards my dream...the parties will return, summer will swing back round, there'll be fun and laughter and new faces to discover. Believe. I do.

Life isn't instant. It's blocks upon blocks upon blocks, and sometimes you lose sight of the shape you're creating for the piles of rubble (emotional, psychological, you name it) you're surrounded with. True both when you construct a real house, and true too when you're building castles in the air. Often, you cannot see the stars for the clouds. But you still know they're there.

You just have to keep building and keep believing. The journey's no fun, sometimes. There'll be obstacles and tears and late nights and despair.

Welcome, my friend. Keep on dreaming. Keep on believing.


  1. I don't believe that believing will get you to the end of your chosen journey. But I do believe in the power of dreams. They give direction to your life. You don't always get your dreams, but you can enjoy each step of the journey.

  2. Thanks, Robert, too true. It's like one of those Venn diagrams we used to do at school: dreaming does not necessarily equal success... but success is difficult without the power of a dream to direct it, indeed. And success is more likely, I do think, when you are enjoying the journey and not just focussing on the destination! Helen

  3. I admire you for having dreams. I accept my horizons are limited now. Like you, I feel my partnership is akin to running a business - aligning schedules, ticking off chores, delegating... One of the hardest things for me post-kids is accepting it's not about me now. I'm glad I did a few things I wanted to when I was younger (living abroad, bit of a career, a few love affairs). What I still find a shock is how unprepared we are for the reality of parenthood.

  4. Gosh,

    Having started a blog fairly recently, I am discovering a world of other blogs. Have written some posts on dreaming, if it wasn't for dreaming, I am sure sheer madness would have set in by now!! Dreams aren't about reaching a final destination for me (because it's often not what you think when you get there anyway!!), but about having purpose and something to aim for over and above filling out school letters, hospital appointments, washing, cooking blah blah blah - completely related to your post.

    Will continue to read : )