We all need a dream to grasp.
Over thirty years ago while doing an artist residency on the Caribbean island of Barbados, I met a retired German couple who would spend three months of each year on this idyllic isle solely to play a gentle game of non-competitive tennis — with friends — in the morning and another in the late afternoon before gin & tonics were served up at the resort’s beachfront pavilion (where I hung out). I never played tennis with them, but the intrigue of doing so during my “own” future retirement bored itself deep into the back of my mind. And, was forgotten.
Despite kidney stones, severe chronic back injury, prostrate surgery, an arthroscopy on one knee plus worsening osteoarthritis in both knees, the physical shortcomings of my life never diminished the power of this dream to someday re-emerge.
When I turned 65 two years ago, I looked at a small patch of open landscape and felt this crazy urge to mow down the bracken and stake out a tentative beginning to a tennis court. Crazy because it made no “rational” sense on any number of factors; especially, my inability to play given the condition of my knees.
But I had lived long enough with my inner muse to know when she was calling me to action. So I began.
This, despite the fact that I had not played tennis in 20 years. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I had listened to the medical “experts” who had told me not to play unless I wanted to end up in a wheelchair.
What kept me going through some fairly tough times during the construction phase was the constant belief that this facility could be a Roaring Beach “community” tennis court, not just “my” court. Here, I could serve up a few coffees of enjoyment for my neighbours even if playing the fool.
Why did the dream resurface into my consciousness after being buried for twenty years?
No easy answer. But what I can say is this: Whether large or small, it is The Dream we create for ourselves that opens the door to the intensified magic of this world’s reality.
Dreams are the “dark matter” that hold us in a universal moist cocoon of “joie de vivre” whilst all around the banal and viciousness of greed try to drain us dry.
Most of our well-meaning friends will see our dreams as fanciful deceptions not worthy of pursuit. Don Quixote flailing at windmills as we are chase our dream; a dream viewed as slightly batty, a simple wasting time, energy and money.
After two years of determined physical and mental effort — of over 1,200 hours of my own labour and over 700 hours worked by friends — this past weekend I had my first game of tennis in 22 years on the newly finished Windgrove tennis court.
I’m of the opinion that dreams, no matter how seemingly unattainable or dormant, are necessary for the development of and the sanity of our souls.
Our hearts need the vulnerabilities and mistakes and healthy humiliations associated with chasing vapor.
As I journey into my sunset years, I can’t wait for the gatherings of friends either in the Coffee-Pourium club house or on the court. With whites or without.