Friday, February 10, 2006


The Dream

(From Voxtropolis)

The morning is calm, cool, sunny. It's time to do something physical. I have no strong desire to get out there among the growing crowds of beachside joggers and such, but I need to move.

That used to be enough motivation. Simple pleasure in movement. Get on the mountain bike and go, under the sun, up the hills, move and see what's out there. Nowadays it's harder to get out there. Being around people is a strain, but if you want to be able to ride you have to ride. So, I go to the garage, get the bike and ride.

It is fairly crowded. Sunday morning is a lousy time to be on the bike path. Coming home will be worse. Once I get off the path and start riding up the canyon things get better: cars at least stay in their lanes.

When I turn onto the driveway from Sunset it's even better. Quiet. The tall eucalyptus trees seem to absorb the road noise and my jangled nerves settle. The going is slow; I'm not in very good shape right now and pushing will only lead to problems.

I stop at the drinking fountain and tank up for the long climb ahead. It's cool but I still sweat. These Fatburner Special rides go the lightest, simplest way. No water bottle, no pack, run what you brung and if it breaks walk home. At the top of the paved driveway I turn left, into the sunshine on the hillsides rather than the tree-shaded road that wraps around to the right.

The land is becoming greener. Winter sycamores are losing their leaves while the new early-spring flowers are coming out. The rainy season started well but has since turned stingy, but these plants are well experienced with promises that don't pan out. They're survivors.

The park is quiet. Not as many people walking around as I expected. I climb the constant grade, looking for progress in the magenta poppies but no buds have formed yet. The gooseberry has its neat shiny green leaves but no flowers. Farther up is a surprise, a lavender flower I'm not familiar with. Eventually I run out of mountain and take a break on top of a picnic table, looking north into the mountains.

What is a dream? People talk about having dreams to guide their lives, but whatever dream I might have once had is now pretty well shredded. I live day to day. A cold breeze from the south chills my sweaty back but that's offset partially by the sun. When the talk turns to dreams I tend to be quiet because everyone else builds these big shiny wonderstruck castles, and I'm content to live in a rented cabin. Mention survival to those who are planning to change the world and the results aren't attractive. A friend of mine pointed out a different way of looking at this: I actually have a pretty good life.

I've tended to credit God with that more than me. As I sit on the table, though, a clearer look comes to mind in one of those odd silent dialogues I have. Some parts of survival I've handled pretty well: physical structure, job, art. The simple things. Interpersonal aspects of human life I've left alone. My assumption is that God wants this to change, because he is himself relational and made me in his image. I tend to resist the idea, though, and today, finally, some ideas as to why come to mind. The Holy Spirit is a marvellous teacher.

What I want is to be myself. This sounds selfish, but I know that no person exists alone. I have a systems approach to the idea. My attempts to find out who I am, beyond the basic functional aspects of life, have failed to the point where I quit trying. Now things are moving around inside and perhaps I'm not such a lousy dreamer after all.

God made me. He knows me. I don't know much about myself, and there are good reasons for that. I attack whatever I find that doesn't fit with the invisible survival requirement. To live in society is to be subject to many conflicting opinions as to who I should be, and I've learned to resolutely defend myself. Invisibly, but still effectively, to the extent that I know. And that extent is pretty shallow. Only God knows the deeper parts, and only he can bring them to my attention and then keep me from destroying myself in an oft-repeated pattern of relentless attack. I already know that God cares. He wouldn't have sacrificed Jesus otherwise. What's surprising is how hard it is to change from an assumption that no one cares, which is a very good self-defense tactic, to an assumption that God cares, and that he cares far beyond reprogramming the machinery.

If you want a dream to grow you have to have the right kind of soil. God knows all about dirt.

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