Big Dreams vs. Little Dreams

It’s funny the dreams we have. Some we carry from childhood and then we develop new ones along the way. We have big dreams and we have little ones. I’ve had a number of dreams come true recently and it’s got me thinking about the grandeur of dreams and how I categorize them for myself.

What do I classify as a big dream and why?

Going to Europe is classified in my mind as a big dream.  Why? Because I have been dreaming it for most of my life? Because it is far away? Because it requires much planning? Because it provides greater joy than small dreams?

Selling my store was a big dream that was recently fulfilled. I classified it as a big dream maybe because the fulfilment of it consumed all my thought. Selling the store meant release from an entire lifestyle in which I was not happy. Selling the store brought great joy but did it bring greater joy than the fulfilment of smaller dreams? And if not, then why did I classify them as ‘smaller’?

 I’ve also had a few small dreams come true in the past while.

When I was 11 years old I watched a television show about an animal conservationist. This person cared for sick and injured wild animals and once they were better, released them back into the wild. I was enthralled and I wanted to be one of these people…until I learned at 17 that the job was strictly volunteer and I could not make a living doing it. I then turned my interests towards acting….I know, not any better really ;-)

 As a child I absolutely loved squirrels. I would spend hours with my friend Melody feeding them; trying to tame them. My friend Melody actually accomplished this task and it always delighted me.

So, last year when the kids at my store brought me a baby squirrel I was absolutely gleeful. Here was my chance!! I raised not one but two squirrels (the second, I acquired a week later from another patron at my store) from a very young age and accomplished the little dream of being ‘friend to wild animals’. I can go into my back yard at anytime and whistle and have two wild squirrels come running from various directions. I feed them, they lay and rest on my arm, they clean me, we play, then they go off to enjoy the rest of their day in the wild. It brings me unexplainable levels of joy.

 Yet while all this was happening I was unaware that a dream of mine had come true. It wasn’t until much later when I marvelled at the joy that these animals brought me that I realized it had been something I had silently wished for my whole life. Then I marvelled even more that God would grant me such a silly little wish. :-)

Another small dream of mine was realized yesterday.

Ten years ago Paul introduced me to a documentary series by Michael Apted called the ‘Up series’. This series started in England in 1974. The documentary maker chose a group of 7-year-old children form various classes of British culture and interviewed them about their thoughts on various subjects. Every seven years the documentary maker returns to interview the children again to see how their lives have developed. It’s sounds rather dull but I can assure you it’s riveting!  When I began watching these movies the children had just turned 42 and that instalment of the series had just been released on DVD. I watched the entire series from 7 to 42 in one day! 

One character in particular grabbed my heart strings from the first moment. A delightful little boy; full of life, sparkling eyes and limitless imagination! I just wanted to squeeze him and take him home. Over the episodes his life took a number of very sad turns and he ended up very lonely and homeless. During all his interviews he was remarkably eloquent and open about the situations he found himself in and each episode left me aching to give him a hug.

Paul and I are known for our crazy ideas so before we left for Europe we found his email address and contacted him. We told him we had heard he was doing some writing and asked if he would meet with us to see if we could possibly work together on a project. He enthusiastically accepted our request.

So yesterday, we met Neil Hughes for lunch.This man who although he is 21 years older than me…I watched grow up from the age of seven. It was a surreal moment to shake his hand, indeed!

The meeting did not disappoint. I felt a kindred bond early on, which seemed to be returned as he asked to meet with us again in the evening after dinner.

The sun was shining with the beauty of magic-hour so we took the opportunity to stroll though the fields in the town where he lives. I soaked in the awesome beauty that surrounded me on all sides. Vibrant green hills spotted with sheep and line with dry-stone walls. Fields of yellow wild-flowers, a babbling brook… it felt as if this town had been unscathed by modern society. Peace blew by on the breeze. As we walked, (pausing here and there for me to snap a photograph) we shared stories from our past,commented on the scenery, made each other laugh and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

As I took this photo Neil commented that the sheep was kind enough to pose for me....showing his best side.

We talked long into the evening and it was clear to me that in addition to the working relationship we had come to peruse, a personal friendship was beginning to emerge.

When we finally said goodbye Neil leaned in to kiss my cheek. I instinctively wrapped my arms around him and hugged him….and the dream was realized. Just like that. A dream that although I had spoken it, I hadn’t really realized it was a dream because it was so absurd; so far fetched that there was no point dreaming it.

As I laid in bed going over the events of the day I marvelled at what stuck out for me the most. It was my first full day in Scotland. Paul an I spent the majority of it wandering around the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen, and yet, my mind kept coming back to Neil…to little pieces of conversation, shared laughter, momentary twinkles in his sad eyes.

That was the most rewarding part of the day. Why?

It was the little dream. It should have been dwarfed by the big dream but the complete opposite occurred.

I have been wresting with this all day. What happened? I’m still not entirely sure but I do have these thoughts to put towards the question:

1. Perhaps there is something special about relationship. Being in beautiful nature is amazing and one of my favourite things in the world but it is an action of observation more than an action of interaction. Maybe it’s the interaction, the communication; the give-and-take that makes it special. I have experienced this also with my squirrels and there is something very rewarding in those moments.

2. Maybe the reason I classify some dreams as small dreams, is not because they were any less dear to my heart, but rather, that I barely knew I had dreamt them.  

3. Maybe what seemed to be the smaller dream was actually the larger one because it was  too large to realize fully. (hmmm…that hurts my head)

4. Perhaps, there is really no such thing as big or small dreams. Dreams are Dreams and they are always thrilling to see realized.

Maybe I will stop categorizing them and maybe, even more importantly, I will listen to my heart when it tells me of my dreams and I will realize that even the most seemingly impossible ones can come true.

Neil's town lies in the county of Eden and I can't think of a more appropriate name for the area.