We cleaned our house on Sunday. I mean cleaned. The two of us (adults) worked steadily for four hours doing those things that even people that clean regularly only get around to once in a while. Dressers were moved, all blankets and sheets (dog beds included) hit the laundry, garbage bags filled. There comes a point where I can’t take the messy house anymore. Oh, and you guessed it, we had company coming over. Small children helped by trampling the piles of dirt that the broom collected, returning toys to the ‘play field’ that we had put away and keeping a close eye that all art of their creation was not thrown in the recycling. Through this process I got to re-visit the great amount of stuff we have in our house.
My brother once had a pack rat living in his trailer. One day when I was there for lunch, my brother searched in his utensil drawer for a can opener, closed the drawer, put on his shoes to head outside, and climbed under the trailer to fetch his can opener and other metal objects that had disappeared. Under the house, the rat (that looks more like a squirrel) had collected a myriad of items to make his shiny nest full of treasures and upgraded it regularly. My brother clearly was learning the routine.
Bowerbirds make a structure out of colourful things called a bower to attract a mate. The Satin Bowerbird makes this display out of mostly blue things that can consist of bits of plastic containers, shells, tarp, glass, bobbles, hair ties, you name it; if it is blue it is worthy. I find it comical to imagine a bird standing at his new creation of blue, as if at a trade show, waiting to see if his potential mate will take what he has on offer.
Humans are no less funny. We ‘nest’ as well. In our world we call it online shopping or local farmers’ market scavenging. We create homes for ourselves to store and prepare our food in, sleep warmly and safely in, raise children, invite friends and family into, display our beautiful things. You gather and arrange things that are important to you in a way that pleases you and your family.
We are prone to storing dreams in our little heads the way we store our things outside of us. Dreams are the stuff that you want your life to have in it. The visions you have in your waking moments about what you want to do when you grow up. They are usually hard to believe and seem impossible to make happen. But all you know when you chase your dreams is that you are “here’ and your dream is “there” and you are going to close the distance no matter what it takes.
I see now why the term ‘dream’ is used to talk about our ambitions. The things we are privy to while we sleep also seem unfathomable most of the time, but there they are happening before us in our minds. The guy you had a crush on in kindergarten that you haven’t seen for 35 years is now picking peas in your garden while Princess Kate descends off of a cruise ship with a basket full of laundry (even though you don’t live near water).
Disney has the whole idea patented. Dreams come true!
I told my husband the other day that I could not find my dreams anymore (the waking kind). I wondered if age was to blame. Was it possible to still have dreams in your 40s? Somewhere in the business and busy-ness of our days I have lost them. When we bought this farm eight years ago, we both had hopes and dreams the size of mountains. And somehow, slowly, one blue, shiny thing at a time we’ve been able to make many of them come true. Yet now I don’t have sight of it anymore. My husband tells me they are still there. Though it feels like the distractions of every day has swept them all away.
There is a Pogues song called Fairytale in New York that I love. The song has two characters hollering at each other while ‘the bells are ringing out on Christmas Day’. There are curses and blaming in this duet of two people fighting inside a life together of trying to fulfill their dreams (calling each other scumbags and maggots, for example). But juxtaposed inside that, as every good song should have, is a sweet spot. It is a tender moment where they show their love for each other. And it brings on tears for me every single time because of the human truth to it.
Her: You took my dreams from me when I first found you!
Him: I kept them with me Babe. I put them with my own. Can’t make it all alone. I built my dreams around you.
It is only now that I realize that the dreams I claim to have lost are now woven into our lives. When we were not looking, the time that makes up our days consumed our dreams and turned them into life. Our dreams left the precarious place that is our head and eventually seeped into more solid ground. What was once an aspiration is now a memory stored inside a trinket somewhere in our house or a structure built somewhere on the land. Or better yet, safely locked inside the heart of someone you care for.
Like thieves in the night, our loved ones steal our dreams.
And put them with their own.
We build dreams around each other the same way the Bowerbird builds its bower. Out of all of the things that we love. And you can blame your age or the demands on your life – but at the end of the day, nobody can take away your dreams. They can only borrow them and give them back better and more real. Time will only do the same.
Cook up the mystery in your head - the shinier the better - and the nest will follow.