In my dream I was talking on one of my favorite subjects to a classroom full of students. The subject was antiques and collectibles. Spread out near the door of the classroom were old swords, medals, firearms, antique carpenter’s tools, dishes, photographs and an antique chest. As I started speaking, one of the students in the back of the classroom yelled out, “Speak up we can’t hear you in the back.”
Straining to raise my voice and continue with my talk, I suddenly realized I was losing my power of speech. My voice was getting weaker and slower and I began fighting to get each word out. Believing in the importance of my message, I struggled on, much to the consternation of the students in the room.
With my hands on the top of an old 18th century Quebec pine trunk I struggled to say, “Like us, antiques have a body, a soul and hold precious memories. Unlike us they do not have the power of speech or the power to record those memories. The items I have brought to you today have lived through the Indian wars, civil wars, wars of independence and two major world wars. They have witnessed the industrial revolution, the roaring twenties, the great depression, the sexual revolution of the sixties and the coming of the Beatles and the death of Elvis Presley”.
My voice weakened and fighting this weakness I began to walk around the classroom and noticed looks of concern on the faces of the students, many I now recognized as old friends. Michael’s ever cheerful smile was fading, Frank’s usual bon-vivant expression was wilting, and Martin looked like he was ready to bolt from the room and call 911.
Still struggling, but determined to defeat whatever it was that was attacking my body, I told the room, “You have all been given a precious gift and that gift is the ability to record and preserve history. You should never take that gift lightly. Keeping a diary, writing small pieces for your local papers, using the social media (carefully), capturing moments with new and improved digitalized cameras and keeping accurate records helps preserve the history of your family, your friendships and your community.”
As I struggled to get out the next word, tears rolled down my cheeks. I apologized to the class for my inappropriate behavior and informed them that I would unfortunately have to cut short my talk. I left the room realizing I was suffering from a stroke and would need immediate medical assistance. The crazy thing was that knowing I could be dead at any moment, my main concern was how I would get all my antique samples back into my truck and transport them safely back to the store.
After awaking from this disturbing dream I came to a number of realizations, the first of which was the fact that material possessions take on way too much importance in this delicate life we live. The second was how one small quirk of fate can lead to major changes in our lives, our lifestyles, how we relate to others and how others relate to us. No one is immune to these quirks of fate, not the poor, nor the middle class, not the rich nor the pretentious. All our bodies and all our possessions will eventually end up as dust, ash or land fill. Our precious souls, however, will live on and each and every act of kindness will live on in the hearts of those we loved, knew, or simply bumped into when they were hurting, vulnerable or in need of help, a kind word or a smile.
I came to the realization that my dream was, in fact, a call to reality…a call to perhaps reevaluate my lifestyle, my priorities, and myself. Am I one of the antiques whose history I was so desperately trying to preserve?