I once read a list of the most difficult moments in life, moments we must all endure, moments we risk falling into depression over; this memory has stayed with me through the years. I even remember exactly where I was when I read those impactful words. The first of these difficult moments was 'the realization of a dream'. Imagine! A depression after realizing a dream! Does this mean that we should never try to achieve our dreams? If so, what a sad world to live in. Perhaps it meant that, once we realize a dream, we are back to square one–no new dream on the horizon; I suppose that void can lead to a depression. I believe that we all need to own our dreams and do everything possible to make them a reality. With a dream in our hearts, we open the door to the future with joyful expectation. ( Number two on this list was the loss of a loved one; number three was divorce.)
The journey towards the realization of a dream, like a journey to any destination, holds the potential of unexpected moments, new horizons, new friendships. The journey excites me as much as the arrival.
At the moment, I am painting window frames–lots of them– in a very large house on our property. This is a meditative activity: I watch the brush carefully slide around the window panes, making sure the edge of the brush is aligned with the edge of each frame; accuracy is important. As I dipped the brush into the paint, I turned away from the windowframe for a moment. There I was standing in that enormous window gazing out at miles and miles of fields and forest stretching to the Pyrenée mountains far away. I had forgotten to look at the beauty right in front of my eyes.
So….Here it is, the first draft of 'my dream' on paper. Details are missing, and aspects of construction are in discussion and will become clear as new information arrives. I know that changes are inevitable before construction actually begins. In the past, my need to change my mind over details during a project was criticized by others; however, a friend once mentioned the concept of the 'evolution of an idea'–and this has made all the difference to my creative process. Just four little words! and a universe of ease is opened.
Some of the details of construction are becoming clear: I imagine a round, stained glass window on the back wall. There will also be an awning that folds out from the side of the wagon when making camp. My husband, Mark, suggests an awning over the driver's seat as well. The interior arrangement and decoration is the part I look forward to completing myself. I can close my eyes and imagine it even now. In spite of these details, every piece of the finished wagon will be judged for its value against its weight, for the horses are my first and major consideration; I don't want to ask more of them than they are capable of doing. The day to day contact and relationship I have with them is one of the core reasons I wish to travel in this way. My trust in the builder will be most important too, since he will know the best wheels, brakes and chassis.
Thanks to the internet, I had a brief correspondence with a family who has been living in their 'roulotte' for twelve years. They kindly answered my questions and gave some much needed advice on ways to proceed. The internet has dozens of photos and stories of others who travel in this old world way; these are fun, entertaining, and informative. The Appleby Fair, for example, takes place every year in England; many people arrive in Bowtop wagons pulled by Gypsy Vanner or Cob horses similar to the animals that will be pulling Toti Bleu.
Now that the design is on paper, what to do next? The answer appeared almost immediately. My Polish friend, Adam, mentioned that he knows a man in Poland who builds antique reproduction horse-drawn carriages; he is willing to show the plans to this specialized carpenter and discuss them on my behalf. Adam was ready to leave that same day. As he drove with me to the copy center to make photocopies, we discussed the plans for five minutes before he hopped into his van and drove off. I stood on the pavement watching as the car, with my dream-on-paper, turned the corner and disappeared out of sight, heading for Poland. Now I simply sit and wait, read, and make more notes, and dream.
I just finished the drawing and already it was travelling!