“In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds.”
— Robert Green Ingersoll
There are times when a dream becomes real, and reality becomes a dream.
Towards the end our Toastmasters Area contest last night, the contestants were lined up at the front of the room, answering the interviewer’s questions. As we proceeded through the question and answer section, there were some very funny responses, some that provoked a thought, and one answer that put everything in perspective.
A retired woman was asked about her Toastmasters experience. Very pleased thus far with her time in the organization, she spoke briefly. But in those few seconds, she mentioned the passing of her adult son. He had cancer, diagnosed unexpectedly at a relatively young age. While he was being treated, she spent time traveling back and forth to the country in which he was living with family. Until he was taken. It was a touching moment delivered not in a depressing manner, but with a fond smile.
As she was the last interviewee, the group then proceeded back to their chairs and the awards started. As we sat, I tried to put myself in this woman’s shoes for a few imaginary moments. Quickly, the importance of the awards faded. The contest became a dream as her journey along the road of time became real for me, at first hand in hand with her son, now alone. The woman sat stoically, and I could envision her walking that road in the same manner – with strength and courage.
Her story spoke to the frailty of human life, the blessing of the time we have received, and the awesome power we are given – to choose how we spend our time. It also spoke to our time after a loss, and how we can choose to go on, give up, or give more.
After the meeting, a group of us listened as she told stories of her son, including the story of a recent dream. She stood with her son, laughing with him at his aerodynamically correct wings – something she knew he would do. They also laughed together at his missing halo – something he was still working on. In the dream, she laughed aloud with him. That dreamy laughter came from deep inside her, out to us in a joyful expression tinged with sadness. It was a beautiful dream of time. Better times. Happy times.
Reality can fade into dream, and dream can become reality. The trivial, insignificant moments in our lives will fade quickly into the abyss of time and be forgotten, like a dream. The meaningful will stay with us, becoming beautiful dreams of time spent together, recalled often, and cherished for eternity.
We all have been given the gift of time. The gift to choose our path – trivial reality, or beautiful dream.
Yesterday’s gift of time … After the contest, I did the dishes and laundry in spite of my wife’s admonitions that I needed to get to bed. I hope it didn’t bother her too much when I didn’t listen. … Also many thanks to William and Lorri for putting together a well-run evening.