Wednesday, 25 September 2013

My Crazy Life of Dreams

There are some words that you never think you'd find yourself saying.  Some years ago, in Brussels airport, I remarked to a colleague that I couldn't wait to get back home to Budapest.  Those words came straight out with out a second thought, without a moment's hesitation, and it was to mark a significant shift in the way that I saw my life.  Now, some years later, living a very different life, I found myself sitting here in Costa Rica, casually telling a friend that I was heading up to Nicaragua, to renew my tourist visa the next morning.  My life, my crazy life and everything in between.

I always had dreams.  I don't know when they began or how they began, but that really is not important.  All that is important, is that they did begin.  They were not grand dreams, there was no master plan, there was no specific journey that I wished to make, there was nothing that I wished to accomplish.  I was just a boy who gazed out of the car window, who saw mountains, hills, valleys, water cascading down the side of the mountains after a rainfall, forming itself into babbling streams, and I knew that I wanted to be out there, I wished to walk amongst the nature, to be out of doors, a wanderer perhaps, but something more, something much more, an adventurer.

In one of those quirks of fate, I found myself as a ten year old boy, in the classroom of Mr Noon, my year six teacher.  Had my parents not decided to move to the south of England, I would have been sitting in a different chair, a different room, a different teacher.  On the side wall of the classroom, stacked in random order on some shelves, were some tattered, well read, old paperbacks.  Each week, we were allotted reading times and were required to select one of the books and to sit quietly and read to ourselves.  I began with Biggles adventures, following the exploits of the daring World War I fighter ace.  Perhaps I read something after, I do not recall now, and then I picked up one of the books that would change my life.  I pulled it at random and as it slid out from the bookcase, its back cover was facing me.  I turned it over to see a picture of mountains and its title: The Hobbit.

I had no idea what this story was about, but I began to read nonetheless and as I did, I found myself utterly transported into another world, a world that, even though I never knew of its existence before that time, I wanted desperately to find.  Bilbo Baggins is a reluctant hero who seeks out the comforts of home, who revels in them in fact.  When the chance of adventure comes literally knocking on his door, he is afraid of change, he is risk adverse, preferring to stay in the confines of his own world, the one that he knows, that he understands, and that is safe.  Here was something that instinctively I found myself saying, "I would go!", "Oh, for the chance!"  I longed for Gandalf to come knocking on my door.  It was impossible of course.  As I read of the adventures of Bilbo and his companions, I longed for the mountains, for the passes, to see valleys and great forests, to become lost, to fight for a greater cause.  My fires were ignited, yet they would slumber for many more years before I would begin to realise my own dreams and for adventure to come knocking on my door.

JRR Tolkien awoke something inside of me.  His writing, his stories, they created in me the adventurous spirit. But wait a minute.  Did he really, or did that already exist?  Hadn't my mother already been a key factor in that, taking my brother and I off on crazy late night car journeys, spontaneously jumping up to give chase to the sirens of an fire engine, so that we could investigate the goings on, taking me for walks in the woods with the dogs, across the fields, filling my head and my heart with the beauty of the out doors?  In my mother I had a kindred spirit that also sought out excitement and adventure.  Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Tolkien fanned the embers of a fire that was already there, it was already in my heart and in the blood that I inherited.  Those embers smouldered away just waiting for the right moment to leap up and burn bright.  A fire that was born in the very fibre of my being, and a fire that would eventually consume my heart, and become my life.

Dreams do not need to be big, nor do they need to be significant.  In fact, a dream can be anything that you choose it to be.  Let me rephrase that because this is important: you do not choose your dreams, they choose you.  A dream is anything that fires your heart with passion and desire, one that fuels the imagination and lets it run wild and free.  You know it, because when you think of it, you erupt in a spontaneous smile and a joy that flows from your inner being.  One of my own dreams was nothing more than a desire for adventure.  I didn't know where I was going to go, I didn't know when, nor did I know how I was ever going to achieve it.  I held that dream as a young boy, gazing out of the car window as we drove through the mountains of Scotland.  I yearned to lose myself amongst the mountains, to climb their lofty peaks, to travel the passes between them, and to be out in the wild. 

I think this is also a very important point to make.  A dream does not need to be a complete story, whereby you can see all the way through to the end.  A dream can begin with the first step and nothing more.  I decided to go travelling.  That was all I had.  What happened after was beyond my wildest imaginings and in no way, could I ever have imagined it.  However foolish your own dream may seem, it is not.  It is your dream and as such, it is your true calling.  To not begin it, is to deny yourself the purest form of happiness and the ultimate gift that you can ever bestow upon yourself - the love of self.

I am still in my dream and I never wish to see it end.  My dream is my life, my life is my dream.  They are one and the same thing.  I could never have foreseen this.  I do not know what will come next, I do not know where life is going to take me.  I try not to plan too far in advance, since I wish to live as much as possible in the present moment.  Life will take care of me, as long as I follow my heart.  That is what I have learned on my own particular journey.  Your heart knows what is best for you, it will never lead you astray, it will never betray you.  I know that if I have the opportunity for a new adventure, then I will take it, I will seek to suck out the marrow of life, to take the road less travelled, and to continue to live as deliberately as possible.  The words carpe diem are tattooed on my left arm for a reason.  I live by them.

It's a funny thing this thinking business.  I just had to stop and let a thought run its course, a thought that produced a big smile on my face, and that originated in my heart.  I realised that my quest for adventure will never end.  What will cease is my quest for travel and for the constant change that I continually put myself through.  At some point, I will have had my fill of that type of adventure and I will seek out a different one.  You see, one of my other dreams is the dream of fatherhood, which is perhaps the biggest adventure of them all.  And that is the one adventure I never want to miss.  The one adventure I must not miss.  The one adventure I will not miss.

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