The father looks at his son with a grave disappointment, his face contorted with an anger he couldn’t keep in but couldn’t let out.
“Son, you’re living in a dream world.”
The son hears these words, not hurt by the words in and of themselves but by the feeling behind them, ravaging like a dull knife. So many tiny twisted edges of unprocessed experience, trapped secrets, insecurity, perhaps even jealousy?
And then, as if to fill the silence that has too often come between them, the son’s mind is flooded with another dream (why now?), a recurring dream he’s had for years, of the purification of the earth and the harmony of people and happy brown babies and the singing of angels who are our ancestors.
“If you don’t have children soon, you’ll just miss out on the opportunity, and that is the primary purpose of our lives, to raise a family and have children! And then how are you going to take care of those children? You need to face reality and get a job.”
The son looks deep into the sad-angry eyes of his father, silently acknowledging the elements of wisdom from this lecture. Still, the weight of the frustrated tone and mountains of disappointment tip the scale out of balance. Truth will always be lighter than principle. He suddenly sees flashbacks from his childhood, moments when his parents were praising leading entrepreneurs, business people who had risked it all for their vision and ended up rich, or influential. The American Dream! Now, he wondered, was it the greatness of the vision and purpose that mattered, or the acquired security and influence? Did they think that their son could be so privileged to achieve greatness without first struggling through the perceived poverty of enlightened risk? Didn’t they see how the world is changing, that wealth is no longer a matter of having a number in your bank account?
The son does not voice these questions and concerns. They remain buried, like a box of priceless baseball cards in the backyard. Everything is interconnected. A reality is a dream, and a dream is…
“Do you ever listen to your father?!?!?! How will you know who you are if you don’t sacrifice for your own family?”
The son is pierced by this question. He knows there is truth here. He looks at his father again in the eyes, and then away, staring longer and deeper into the pale white wall which becomes a blank canvas. The wall is nicer to look at than his father’s eyes, at least in this moment. The wall becomes a portal into the dream world of his father, a dream world mostly denied in the name of principles like “reality” and “sacrifice”. He sees a very real image of his father, not as the president of a company, but as a scuba dive instructor on a boat with a lot of smiling people.
Another dream surfaces in the son’s wide awake imagining . . . he sees himself at his own wedding celebration with his wife, in a time not so far off, and their young boy is running around looking like the happiest being alive, sitting one by one in everybody’s lap, delighting in being loved, and their friends of many colours and textures of hair are playing the most beautiful music in the world with all kinds of strings, drums, angelic voices . . .
“Father.” The son finally remembers what he must say, and thankfully, it’s not his own words. “A dream is really just an extension of what you’re living. What you hope for and all that, it’s not really separate from your life, it grows right up out of it. If you want sweet dreams, you’ve got to live a sweet life.”
His father is crying now, and the son stands up to embrace him, collapsing not just the few feet of physical space between them but a whole decade of miscommunication and unnecessary suffering. They are the same height, so their chins rest comfortably on each others’ shoulders as they hug long and tight. And the son, with his mouth near his father’s ear, begins to sing . . .
A seed Yah wise planteth
Down by the riverside
Fed by living waters
Of river’s tide
Bear fruit in Yah plenty
With roots deep and branches high
Til time come to perish
And leave behind . . . A seed
Download the song with the album Grow Within And You Shall Not Go Without by Joel Karabo Elliott of Roots Grown Deep