April 1, 2016

How to Love a Dreamer.



Sometimes I feel like a kite. Or a hot air balloon.

Some days, if it were up to me, I’d keep my hand on the lever that fuels the fire that keeps me floating off into the world of possibilities.

I really suck at being in the moment. No matter how many elephant journal articles I read or how much mindfulness I practice, my mind wanders into the great unknown that is my future and its purpose. I go to music festivals and listen to beautiful songs and wonder about my place in the world.

Every day, my restless wandering spirit demands that I have space to dream about my next adventure. That’s the only way I seem to stay grounded in the one I’m currently enjoying.

This means that I can…on occasion…be a hard person to love.

I know this is true when every once in a while I get this idea that I should ask my wife if she’ll upend her life so we can move across the country and start a dive bar on a volcano. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but sometimes my dreaming leads me to a lovely fantasy where laundry and bills don’t exist. It’s not that those things aren’t important to me, it’s just that I can’t see them from way up here.

When that happens, she has a couple of options. She can ridicule me for spending too much time in my fantasy land where things like bread on the table get overlooked. She can pull me down from that dream and force my hot air balloon head to see the bills that need our collective attention, or she can sigh deeply, telling herself that things will never change.

Unfortunately, any one of these choices have a tendency to either keep me ignorant to what matters to her or provoke my powerlessness because I don’t know how to solve the problem.

That’s not her fault. Just like it’s not my fault that my dreaming sometimes makes her afraid. Just like it’s not my fault that when she’s hangry, she sometimes loses patience for the next idea I have that’s going to change the world.

But she’s learned to love me despite that I may be blind to the things that matter right now, in this moment. She’s learned to love my dreaming spirit while still asking me to take part in what she cares about. She did this first by getting up into the balloon with me. She could have resented me for being up there all the time, which has happened before, but for the most part, she tries to stay in my balloon basket, to see the world from this perspective.

This, in turn, helps remind me to be in the moment that requires my attention. Her compassion gives me space to dream and initiative to act when action is needed.

But sometimes I have to go first. If I don’t pay attention to the things that are on the ground, it scares her. And because no one likes to be afraid for very long, that fear can turn into frustration, which can fester into anger. She shouldn’t have to wonder if I’ll be there with her when a real life problem confronts us. So it’s my job to pay attention.

If I don’t invest in her safety, she’ll have a hard time adventuring like I want her to.

She’s also discovered that the view from up here can be kind of fun. It scares her a little bit, and so she grabs my arm, which I love, because it makes me feel like a badass. It also reminds me how much I need her. It reminds me of how navigating the world would be so difficult without her.

She’s learned when to challenge my ideas (less often) and when to listen to the ones that she knows are foolish (more often). I’m not going to open a dive bar on a volcano…probably. But she knows that I need to dream about it. I don’t know how she’s figured this out. I suspect that it’s just time and patience in my world, but she’s discovered that the process of dreaming is more important than the dream itself.

She knows that my restless spirit has to dream, has to wander, has to walkabout. She’s accepted that this is a part of who I am, and rather than resent it, she cultivates it. She feeds it. She sends me recipes for lava flavored cocktails and ideas for foundations that are heat resistant.

She nourishes the dream, and as a result, the dreamer. And when she needs my attention, she tugs gently at the string I’ve tethered to her arm, and I climb down from la la land into the moment until she’s ready to climb up there with me.

Something amazing happened recently. Something that shows just how much she’s learned to love my dreaming heart. A few days ago I was doing the dishes. I was looking for her and I couldn’t find her. I looked all over the house, but she wasn’t there. I noticed a pull on my arm where I discovered a knotted string. I followed the string up to a kite and was pleasantly surprised to see her riding up there in her own world of possibilities.

It turns out that one of the best ways you can love a dreamer is by dreaming yourself. Which means that I have to take care of life back here on earth so that she has space to dream.

Funny how that works.


Author: Mathis Kennington

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Original artwork and image by Caro. Used with permission.

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