I, Too, Have a Dream

By: Mike July 14, 2014

A number of years ago I was talking to our veterinarian. As a side note it's worth mentioning that, if you have a horse you'll get to know your vet. If you have several horses you'll soon be on a first-name basis. And if you're addled enough to have a horse farm you'll know your vet better than you know your own family. Anyway, we were talking to our vet the way an alcoholic talks to the bartender, and I mentioned how busy I was.

Our vet just looked me up and down and said, "By your age, if you're busy it's probably because you want to be."

I started to sputter an outraged defense about how none of it was my fault, but after a moment's consideration I had to concede the point. We're busy because we choose to be. Since then, I've sort of made my peace with the idea that if you're a dreamer, and married to a dreamer, you're going to be busy. Dreams are sort of funny things, they seem all hazy and insubstantial, an ephemeral glimpse of something not really there. But the minute you say, "I could actually do that!" they start to become real. The catch, of course, is that dreams don't become real by themselves. No, they push and prod and itch in your brain until you finally make them real.

Dreams are not the sweet-tempered companions described by the poets, they're demanding task-masters that conspire to consume your time and resources. Think about it, consider a small, innocuous dream. . . maybe you have a front yard that's all brown and weedy and, seeing your neighbor's profusion of blooms and greenery, you start daydreaming that your yard could look like that . . .

There it is! That cute, fuzzy, innocent-looking dream of a lush yard. Yeah, Skippy, I'm looking at you! Shoo! Get outta' here! I don't need no stinkin' dreams. Yeah, you just keep movin' I like my yard yellow. It crackles when the bad guys step on it, so it's a good thing, ya' understand me? Now beat it!

OK, now that that silly dream is gone, let's talk about what would have happened if I hadn't sent it packing. Yes, it was a cute little dream, and it looked lonely. Now pay attention! If I'd left that dream loitering around here, it would have followed you home. It would have snuggled up to you like a long-haired rabbit and cuddled into your brain. You'd have visions of green grass and flowered borders, and fall asleep with a smile on your face dreaming of shade trees and cobbled paths through shaded nooks. It sounds blissful doesn't it?

That's how they get you. They come in all innocent and fuzzy, and they anesthetize your brain while they insinuate themselves into your thoughts like a parasite. While you're euphoric and distracted it's growing, gestating, heck it's probably pupating while you're oblivious — and then the nagging starts.

One night, as you drift off to sleep, you'll be envisioning the front yard of your dreams and a little voice—and since it's not your voice, whose is it?— will say, "So, when are you going to do something about it?" And just like that, your innocent little dream starts bossing you around.

It will nag you, quietly but constantly, until one day you give in and,just to appease your curiosity, you'll drive by a home and garden store. You'll walk by racks of shovels, rakes, and grass seed. You'll see shelves piled high with plumbing, hoses, sprinklers and arcane hardware. There will be bins filled with seed, and flowering plants spilling off of the tables, and a little voice will whisper, "Buy it. Buy it all. Buy it now!".

And, that first trip, you'll probably resist the urge to buy. You're in control of your life, master of your destiny, and you've spent years developing financial discipline. But the next night when you lay down, the familiar dream of your perfect garden won't materialize. You'll see that discount grass seed and those gardening gloves with the green canvas fingertips, and you'll be stuck trying to remember the name of that really beautiful flower you liked. In the back of your mind, that familiar nagging voice will suddenly say, "You're too stupid to make this dream come true. You have much to learn. There are several hours remaining before you have to get up and go to work, why don't you rectify your ignorance and become a bit less pathetic?"

Okay, in all fairness, the snark and insults are probably just my dreams. Give 'em long enough and they'll figure out what motivates you and use it against you. Trust me, dreams are tricky and absolutely ruthless.

Sooner or later, they'll catch you when your guard is down. It helps that now you're spending four or five hours a night reading gardening articles on the internet, and your sleep-deprived brain isn't working quite right. You'll be doing your grocery shopping, and somehow a couple of flower bulbs or little gardening trowel finds it way into your cart without you even remembering how it happened. It's only a couple of dollars, so what's the harm? In the words of the immortal Mr. T "I pity the fool!"

The game is afoot. The dream's got your number, and they're relentless. It will push and prod and tickle and scratch at your thoughts. Pretty soon you'll be buying grass seed and sprinklers in the hope that, if you're exhausted enough, you might get a little sleep. You'll be surprised to find that you know the names of every flower in the garden shop, and your credit card is maxed out. Your friends will complain that they never see you anymore. Suddenly, you never seem to have time for movies or a trip to the beach, there's a yellow patch in the lawn and it's either that nasty neighborhood dog, or you need more selenium in your fertilizer . . .

And as you go about your busy day, reduced to a mere automaton endlessly toiling over your lush, green lawn, completely subservient to that sweet little dream you once adopted, you'll see a neighbor cast an admiring glance at your immaculate lawn. In that moment, to your horror, the dream that has become your master will cackle without mirth, and a small, furry piece of your dream will split off and bound over to the new admirer, begging with big eyes to be picked up and taken home.