I look at the photographs on the walls of my house – sunshine over High Force, swirling waters of Gordale Scar, and the orange light of an autumn evening as it settles over Brimham Rocks. I sweep my eyes by Malham Cove, fresh, in a winter morning, and along the edges of the Dover Cliffs… My gaze comes to rest on smiling people, their arms thrown around one another in joy, and I know, beyond doubt: I am lucky. Everything is about today now, and tomorrow, and all the wonder that I have and seek. There is no longer room for the things I have never had, or for those I have lost. It will soon be October. There is an important anniversary coming…one of freedom. Some would say of loss, or horror…I say, of freedom. A whole year since all those smiling people, should have strapped on their wings and flown. But I guess, it takes time to adapt, to 'impossible' becoming a reality.
I have never made a ‘life plan’. Some people do, I hear, but not me. No plans; I’ve had only dreams. That way, there is joy when your dreams come true, and there is sadness when they do not. You feel everything, but you do not fail – because true failure, is only ever in failing to try. And I try hard - I dream big.
The most important dream I ever had, was the one that saved me. Not in any grand, dramatic way…it just kept me, me. It was one I constructed with a friend; an escapist’s dream; when we both had equal need of it. A cottage on the cliffs by the sea, with a covered deck outside, an open fire inside…simple really. There’d be wine and cheese…and we’d watch the storm clouds roll in, and listen to the thunder. We’d just get in the car and drive there one day…no one would find us…and we were never coming home.
The dream manifested at a point in our lives, when, for very different reasons, we were both more trapped than we had ever known. And you can’t plan for much when that’s your reality; only dream your impossible dreams. Because today, and tomorrow, and the next day, will be just like yesterday, and just like every day in the future, as far as your eyes can see – until that thing, that trapping, binding thing, beyond anything you can change or control, is by fate removed. And you say, every day: ‘when this is over’, but you never really believe that day is coming; nor can you wish for it, without a myriad of bone-crushing guilt… And so, instead, you dream. For no matter what bonds hold your body in limbo – your mind can still be free.
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Long after liberation from unexpected chains, your old dreams give birth to the ghost of a plan. I know now, as I look at all the photographs on my walls, some day I want to show my children the world - whilst they are young enough to be awed by everything they see, and just old enough, to remember it forever.
I dream we might take a year to do it...live like nomads and move every week, learning more each day than a classroom could possibly teach. And when we’re done, we’ll come home, to open fields out the back and a farmhouse kitchen with a rough-hewn table, and the simple warmth of happiness, in the middle.
That’s the dream.
And the ghost of a plan? That my family will know what it is to be loved beyond measure, guided without judgement, and cherished without condition; to be reckless and foolish, proud and responsible…and above all, to be free.
Perhaps there will only be money enough to show them the wonders of Yorkshire…but who says this wood is not a rainforest, this beck not a distant river? The world each day, is what you make it – and I will teach them how to dream. No matter the burden or bond, a dreamer is always free.