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“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
~ Langston Hughes

January 22, 2003

Dad sold a bunch of cattle this week. The last load had barely left the yard when he came stumbling into the house, exhausted from working with the cattle all day and sore from a fall he’d taken in the midst of them. He collapsed into his favorite chair and, as he dug at the snow that clogged the ice gripper on the bottom of his cane, he began to plan how many calves he’ll have in the spring and where he should buy a new bull.

My dad is in his seventies now, and should be enjoying retirement, not dreaming about building up a herd of cattle. But he’s not interested in retirement—he’s interested in his cattle. 

For as long as I can remember, Mom has wanted a big sewing room. She did eventually take over a larger bedroom for her sewing room, but it’s still not large by any means. She dreams of tearing off the porch and building a weaving room attached to the house so she can weave year-round.

I dream of making my living as a writer. I dreamed of it as a teenager while I wrote endless stories curled up in the window seat in my bedroom or pounding away on my little Olivetti Valentine manual typewriter. I dreamed of it as a young adult while I wrote endless stories in my head as my hands automatically trimmed and packed piece after piece in the plastics factories where I worked. I dreamed of it as a “nontraditional” college student while I soaked up atmosphere in a writers’ group that consisted of mostly faculty and me. Now I dream of it while I scribble silly little essays, seeking the least crumb of approval because I’m afraid my dream will never become reality.

And I wonder if, after all, it would really matter if it ever did become reality. As I listened to my seventy-something dad expound on his plans for the spring, I realized, one really can live on dreams. We’ve been living on dreams all our lives. 

“Next spring…”

“When we get the porch torn off…”

“When I’m settled at a job that I don’t hate so I’m not so stressed out all the time…”

It’s a sad fact of life. We are all still dreaming, still living for the future. It’s an escape from an uncomfortable present that isn’t likely to change. But, you know, dreams really can come true. After all, the porch is almost all torn off now… And the writers’ group really, really liked my story!