Dreams are Flexible

Yosemite double falls - photo by susan l. davenport

The beauty of nature has always fascinated me. It amazes me how some people can go through their day and not even notice the wonder of God’s creations all around them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a compulsion to try and help others stop a moment and notice how beautiful our world really is. After I graduated from college and started making money on my own, my first large purchase was a good camera.

When I was twenty-seven, I married my husband. He says I was an old maid and he took pity on me, saving me from spinsterhood—he’s always been able to make me laugh. But despite his endearing ways, he frustrated me because he had no hobbies. He would come home at night and just sit in front of the TV, watching mindless shows. That can’t be good for a person’s long-term mental wellbeing. Of course, I have a Type A+ personality. The concept of having no hobbies is alien to me, so I started trying to help my husband find a hobby he would love. Fortunately for both of us, he fell in love with nature photography.

We wandered the American continent, or at least a small part of it, and had a fabulous time taking pictures together. It was so much fun, we planned to become professional nature photographers once we retired from our real jobs (the jobs that paid for all the film).

The beauty of a New England Fall - Photo by Paul Davenport

When my husband was in his mid-fifties, our company decided to downsize. They outsourced my department to a firm about forty-five minutes away. As part of the outsourcing package, they were willing to help me financially if I wanted to move closer to my new job. My husband and I decided to build a home half-way between our offices. The house was about half completed when he had his heart attack, bypass surgery, and then early retirement. Six months later, after we had moved, he had his first stroke, and six months after that he had the stroke that left him blind with short-term memory loss.

He was devastated. He’d had such wonderful plans for retirement, and now they were gone. I worked from home for a month trying to help him get over his loss, but it was a slow process. I took a year of family leave, so I could stay home and take care of him. Before the year was even over, it became clear to me that he was not going to be able to manage on his own, so I quit.

The cameras had been put away because they made him sad. He didn’t want to travel anymore, not even close to home. Years went by. Years of being together, talking through issues and feelings, and eventually the cameras came out again. Just a little at first—a picture of a rose in the back yard or of a dog. I always made sure to tell him about the picture in detail so that he could see it in his mind. He began to take an interest again. When I told him about something intriguing in the back yard, like the little yellow spider, he would say, ‘Get your camera.’

Now he is willing to wander with me again. Not to other countries or even to other states, but that’s okay, there are lots of beautiful examples of nature right here where we live. I had thought my dream of recording the wonder of God’s creations was gone, but I was wrong. It’s still here, in my heart. It’s just a little different. Isn’t it wonderful how flexible dreams are? Sometimes they can’t happen the way we originally conceived them, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on them. There are lots of ways to make a dream come true; you just need to find the one that works for you.

Don’t give up on your dreams. Hold them in your heart, and maybe, someday you’ll find a way to make them happen. Good luck.      

Delicate wonder - Photo by Susan L. Davenport