Dreams of a community

I don’t remember my dreams when I wake up. I know I must have them, the science is pretty clear on that, but apart from a very occasional glimpse of a seemingly meaningless moment, I remember nothing.

But I do remember my waking dreams. In quiet moments I return almost always to the same one. This is a dream that has grown with me — maybe it is a dream that we all have — at its heart it is a dream about a community, a community to which I belong. There are fragments of place in my dream, mountains and water, but those are the smaller parts, I mention them first only because they are easier to express.

When I was a child, an unhappy child, I thought I wanted to be alone, always. I didn’t know how to cope with anything else because I had no one to show me how to love, and without love the world is intolerable. I don’t mean to say that there was no love around me, only that everyone around me seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand.

So if a dream is like a flame then this one spent ten years in a vacuum. I don’t think it caught light again until I started cycling Australia, and when it did I didn’t recognise it. Hope is terrifying to the uninitiated, it washed over me so quickly I felt like I was drowning. At first I tried to fight it, to stay my nascent enthusiasm with pessimism and doubt. I still didn’t trust people, perhaps because I didn’t trust myself. I wasn’t an honest person so I couldn’t believe that anyone was. I wasn’t kind by nature so I took advantage of people who were.

Perhaps that doesn’t sound like the start of a dream that has taught me to love and to trust, to be kind, open, and honest. And perhaps it doesn’t sound like it has much to do with community. I can only say that it has and it does.

My dream has been a dream about people, something that unhappy child could never have imagined. The people I have met have made me the person I am, and it has been better than a dream. But the dream has not been idle in these years, it grows bolder as we show each other what is possible. The dream is far bigger now than it was when it found me, bigger than it was when it scared me, it doesn’t scare me now though. I want what the dream has shown me. That people can depend on me and I can depend on them, and there we find community.

I am still a child, but a happy child now, because I have my dream, and I begin to know what it means.