What should dreams be?
This post was written after a special day in Huaraz, a small town in the northern Andes of Peru.
My body felt heavy and each exhalation seemed to weigh it down further into the lounge. I had been there so long I wondered at what point I would sink far enough to no longer be seen. Maybe that was the best outcome. Another breath.
The noise from the streets told me life was going on but for me it seemed to stop at this lounge. Get up. My dream was over, smashed into splinters earlier that morning. Why bother?
Get up. That gnawing voice deep inside me was at it again. I reached for the map on the table next to me and scanned it to find a route that would take me away from here. Calle de Mirador, now that held some promise.
Cacophony was the only word to pass through my mind as I stepped back into the streets of Huaraz, the noise snapped at my brain. My chosen route skirted the town centre for a short time and then started to climb. Each step reminded me I was more than 3000m above sea level. Forced to breathe deeply, my body found its natural rhythm.
The dogs of Huaraz were everywhere that afternoon, at least fifty or more – some pets, but most street dogs. I gave them as much notice as they gave me, which was very little. Some were taking in the sun, barking at my presence or hunting around for a scrap or two. Occasionally one would join me on a run or be a trail buddy for a little while and then go on its way. Dogs are expert at getting as much as they need and then wanting for no more.
So, with all this canine activity I still wonder why two particular sleeping dogs stopped me in my tracks.
The two dogs were curled against the wall of a house, warming in its reflected heat. The wall was tanned in dirt from the road and the colour of the dogs blended perfectly with its tones. Scattered next to the house were toys left where they were last played and a bike whose owner had yielded to the lunchtime call from mum.
I was riveted by the deep contentedness of the scene and in the same moment the sharp contrast of my own life caused a sudden pain.
In our modern life we are encouraged to dream big, to chase our dreams and then dream some more. Even in our dreams we are under pressure to perform, to never be still, lest we live a life less than the potential of our dreams or prove incapable of being able to dream at all.
Staring at the dogs, I realised that chasing a dream tears our attention away from something vastly more important; being present to today. Its distraction diminishes the joy we gain from the life that already surrounds us.
What I learned that afternoon is that dreams, while important, should not prevail so strongly in our lives that they overshadow everything else. They should be held lightly in our minds and more lightly in our hearts so that in a moment’s breath they can be released back into the world, giving their space and energy over to the things that matter most – belonging, being comforted by a familiar place, enjoying the company of a good friend.
And going for a run.