Dreaming. Often, forward-looking phenomenological experiences such as anticipation, longing, and dreaming get classed as second-rate, devalued for their presumed lack of presence, or, perhaps more accurately, for their seeming lack of satisfaction with the present moment. As feelings go, anticipation is not very “Zen,” but it is not necessarily the antithesis to, or even in conflict with, a peacefully present mind. Without getting too philosophically technical or becoming too assertive about what reality is or what a life well lived looks like, we can still establish that the experience of anticipation is as real as the tea we are drinking. Unless we completely dismiss the internal world, and only value what our hands and feet are doing, some of our most sublime experiences take place within the realm of the mind. Rather than dismissing dreaming, and laugh at its questionable rationality, scold its presumptions, and send it dogfaced to the closet, maybe there is a way to enjoy it without losing touch with the world around us.
The tingling day before Christmas…planning your summer vacation in January…fantasizing of tomorrow’s sleep-in-morning… finding the music for your wedding…dreaming of the first kiss…all moments of anticipation whose enjoyment, excitement, and pleasure can rarely be beat by the actual day, thing, or experience. The common fact that “reality” rarely trumps our dreams thereof (though there are exceptions when the opposite is true, too), could make us feel embarrassed and defeated, but if we take full responsibility for our dreams and learn to love the experience of anticipation for what it is, then we can suck all the sweetness out of longing without it sucking the same out of our future. In our dreams we are creative gods, playing with potentials, and just maybe something may come of it. The trick is not to confuse the excitement of expectation with the very uncertain joy of getting whatever it is you are expecting. All the joy you can count on is the joy of expectation itself. The experience of dreaming, longing, planning, hoping, anticipating—is what is now, what is real. It does not necessarily relate to future events at all, but that does not have to make it less enjoyable.
For the past week, we’ve been snowed-in in town. It doesn’t take much to be snowed-in in Georgia, two inches and some ice is enough for the schools to close and the roads to be deserted. Not that we complain, we revel in these rare days off, take long, snowy walks with our bouncy dogs, drink hot chocolate while wrapped in blankets, and chomp away at the piles of books we both have at our bedsides. We dream of our tiny house.
To design and build your own house is one of the most fertile grounds for dreaming and planning. Apparently also for hairsplitting and divorces, we’ve heard, but that is far from our experience. This is the fun part! Sure, we do look forward to (…) a day when we no longer have to use every spare penny for screws, and when we actually get to live in our little house in the woods, but we are both well aware that this might be the best part. How many nights haven’t we curled up on the sofa with a pot of tea, a pile of Swedish design and decorating magazines, the IKEA catalog, tiny house books, and the computer for the Internet research, and had as much fun as two best friends and wives can have?! This is how we play.
Once we live in the house, we’ll start our new projects (Maria will write her book, and Seb will hopefully start a PhD program), though we are sure to enjoy the lived result of our dreams manifested. It’s not much different from when you were a kid and built a tree house…does anyone remember actually playing in the house once it was done? It was the idea born among friends and the adventure of building that was fun: to collect scrap wood, the precarious climb up, your father’s too heavy hammer, nails that all wanted to bend, the laughing and sweating, and the smell of sap under your fingernails. Once it was done, we sat with legs dangling among the tree tops, and dreamed of our next adventure.