There are times in life when I feel dissociated from the reality around me. I have a surreal experience that echoes as 'is this really my life?' It is a question that I always experience as wonder. I know what I am experiencing is accurate, and yet ...
As I write this I am sitting in Miami International Airport mid-way in a long day of travel between my temporary home of Kingston Jamaica and my excursion destination of Bridgetown, Barbados. This is my unrecognizable life.
How did an awkward teenager turned frumpy housewife from northern British Columbia end up here? Was I always destined to be here, or did I make it happen? Is the answer somewhere in between? I know this was long the life I dreamed of - even as a teenager in the hinterland I dreamt of being cosmopolitan, a jet-setter. It's the adventure I always wanted, but the leap from then to now is mind-bending.
As Sidney Poitier says in his autobiography The Measure of a Man,
Daydreams were guaranteed to please. They had it all over facts & reality when it came to getting groundwork done and foundations laid. However, daydreams were burdened with what in years to come would be revealed as their major weakness. Every ounce of the hard grueling work necessary in the conversion from promises made to dreams fulfilled was the sole responsibility of the dreamer.
I can, with neither false vanity not false modesty, say I've done the work. I earned the education. I put in the hours of work at jobs that varied between an expression of myself and just paying the bills. I did without when doing without was necessary, and I did with when it was possible. I went with the flow, and then I swam against it. I am also clear I haven't arrived - maybe there is no arriving. Maybe each summit reveals a new peak ahead. But in this moment, life is surreal and perfect.
It's also unequivocally true that I have had the great privilege not just of being allowed to dream but of being allowed to believe in my dreams. My sisters and I were encouraged to test and develop talents in various fields - sports, school, the arts - and so to learn about ourselves. We were encouraged to learn about and visit other places and people. And, we lived in a culture and society that said in myriad ways 'the white middle-class will inherit the earth' - it was the water we swam in.
I see the street children in Kingston and I know they too dream. But I wonder if it ever occurs to them that they are worthy of their dreams, that they have as much right to do the hard work that has dreams come true as anyone. In an environment of constant lack and need, how do dreams grow?