Our World Tuesday: Dreams
In his young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Junior contemplates reservation life, wondering how and why Native Americans—nomadic peoples--ever bought into the idea that their destiny meant being tied to some bit of landscape circumscribed by the U.S. government. While Junior understands the pull of place, the significance of home, and the power of stories to keep us coming back, he also reflects that for Native Americans, the pull of place was once a dynamic, limitless experience. Junior makes this observation in this coming of age novel as he begins to make sense of his being an Indian in a white world, which world offers just about everything he wants for himself. The whiteness of the world outside the rez is as much an accident of history as the rez itself, and Junior realizes to be bound by history is to give up on life and, really, to give up on a past worth engaging in new and exciting ways.
I was thinking about Junior over the weekend, while I was visiting Topsail, a place I adopted as my home last year and then left because my daughter couldn’t or wouldn’t imagine life in a new place. In an age-old, reflexive desire to keep tears from flowing and to head off objections to unwanted challenges, I surrendered my dreams—dreams I was so close to bringing to life. I hated myself for surrendering, though I never took the time to consider how much.
Coming back, I realized I didn’t just leave in August. I quit on myself and left my heart here. Being a teacher makes this easy; there are so many other people to take care of and countless others to answer to that there is no time to look back or even notice you’re not even there, no matter how deeply committed you are to what you’re doing.
I have been madly in love with Topsail for a lot of years now. I sorely wanted what I worked hard to achieve last year and then gave up so easily in the name of others’ whims, desires, pleasure, happiness, freedom from challenge. In short, I surrendered to others’ inertia. I loved it, but I didn’t fight for it. What a sin.
I took a long walk on the beach on Sunday. The air was cold and the wind was strong, but the sky could not have been bluer or the sun, brighter. At the end of my walk, I sat down on the steps of our cross-over and watched the waves roll in. With each wave came a rainbow as the wind blew back the foam into the sunlight. I cried like I never took the time to in August. This was worth the fight for what it is and for all those things it suggests. Each wave is a poem, a reminder of how fragile, evanescent, and delightful each life is, whether that life belongs to a turtle, a fox, a child, or an adult.
Back to Junior. I realize giving up on dreams is the same as making an unworthy, unnecessary surrender. It's just plain stupid.
I’ll try again. I won’t fail.