“D.R.EA.M.S.” is an ironic title.
When I left for the Dominican I wanted to find a world where there was no time. Iwanted to fly away from everything awful and mundane in my life – I just wanted a vacation from anxiety. I wanted to finally rest. I wanted to finally sleep. But D.R.EA.M.S. wasn’t an escape from reality; that is, it wasn’t a dream. My life before D.R.EA.M.S. was a dream. I was a little boy sleepwalking through life, too afraid to open his eyes and see the monsters hiding in his bedroom. I was an infant. I had not experienced life as it really was. Travelling to the Dominican Republic I felt like a deaf man finally hearing music. And the music I heard was beautiful. I felt like a blind man being given new sight. And I saw happiness and community. I heard the music of real wisdom and fresh, untarnished naivety. I heard the songs of unbreakable trust. I saw and heard all of these things, but I didn’t hear cynicism or anxiety or stress.
But it was as if I was afraid I would lose all of this.
So like the blind man who is not sure if his newly found vision will last, I tried to absorb every sight I could. And every single thing I saw was beautiful. Every sunrise, every sunset, every mountain, every tree, every gust of wind, every cloud and every time I heard rain fall. Every man, woman, and child I met, every discovery we made, every nail we hammered and every time my shovel hit the sand. I saw tired smiles concealing suffering and heart break and betrayal but somehow never mistrust. I saw absolute selflessness. The cries of “kiki ruchos”, the satisfying crack of a stone hitting the water, and the smells of sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat were all beautiful.
There was beauty in the river, the dogs, and the cats. It was in the lizards, the roosters, and every beetle we terrorized. I had more fun with rocks and half empty water bottles than I ever thought I could; simply because these people opened my eyes and made me see that there is beauty in everything. Pineapple is beautiful. Papaya is beautiful. Dino cookies are BEAUTIFUL. The rough hands and the soft face of Miguelito are beautiful and pure (or so DJ tells me). Everything was so beautiful and simple and so definitely NOT a dream.
So yes, D.R.EA.M.S. is an ironic title, because this trip wasn’t an escape from reality – it was an awakening to it. At home I was becoming an old man, but without the wisdom. I had been sleepwalking for far too long and I had backed myself into a corner. I slept for so long that hopefully I’ll never have to sleep again. I can’t stop now, I have to stay awake and experience all I can.
Because I’m still immature and inexperienced and green and arrogant.
But I’m no longer deaf. That is what I gained. I woke up to the world around me and started listening to its heart. And I heard it beating faintly, almost drowned out by the voices of anxiety and cynicism and soulless pragmatism. But I heard its heart beat and that’s all I needed.
…But who knows, maybe I still only have one eye open and one ear listening. But that doesn’t matter because now my life has a purpose; a direction and meaning.
And thanks to D.R.EA.M.S. I think I’m finally ready to stumble out of bed and live.
Jeff Sauer – March, 2011
The witnesing above was sent to me by my Canadian friend, Don Hall. The writer was a participant in their school’s D.R.E.A.M.S. program in which groups of students go to the mountains of the Dominican Republic to build homes and schools.