We are our dream

We need to take life seriously. We’re all on a one-way ticket that can expire at any moment. We came with nothing, we should leave with nothing. We need to be serious about life. We need to dare to be ourselves.

The thoughts behind those words are not new. Pick up any book on visualisation, actualisation, or realisation and you’ll find the same sentiment couched in self-help rhetoric. But when they wrap up a fascinating account of how two young people finally ran out of excuses and set out in January 2000 to fulfil their dream, they take on new meaning.

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Their dream was to drive from Argentina to Alaska in six months. It would take them nearly four years. On a budget of $20 a day, they started out in a vintage car and headed north. Just 55 km into their journey, they ran into trouble. One of their vintage wheels needed specialist attention. As luck would have it, the next town had a blacksmith who knew what was needed. As he did the work, they got to chatting. Herman and Cande Zapp told him about their dream to drive to Alaska. When it came time to pay, he wouldn’t take their money, saying simply that he wanted to be part of their dream.

In a compelling couple of hours last Sunday at Lumen Café, as the Zapps told us their story, we also became part of their dream, a dream that continued beyond Alaska. Before they had set out, friends and family had warned them of the evils that lay ahead. They could be robbed, hurt, even killed. But no one told them that people would help them, take them in, listen to them, teach them, share their worlds with them, and want to share their dream.

A man printed 7000 calendars using their photos for them to sell one Christmas. Another shipped their car from Central to North America. Some others clubbed together to buy them much-needed new tyres for their car. In North Carolina, expecting their first child, they were inundated with strollers and car seats. In Costa Rica, they glued the covers on their hastily printed book at a table at an international book fair as they autographed and sold copies to pay for petrol. No one asked for money. No one asked for anything more than to be part of their dream. The stories, all told with humble appreciation for the good in the world, mounted up.

And while at face value, it might seem as if the Zapps are the ones to be grateful for all the kindnesses others have shown them, I think the reverse is true.

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Just 16 years into this new millennium, our world is a pessimistic one. We are wary of each other, distrustful, constantly on our guard. We expect the worst to happen and so inevitably it does. We are too proud to ask for help and too often deny others the opportunity to do us good, to show us kindness. We are so mired in a subsistence reality of our own making that we have forgotten how to dream.

Some might wonder at the sanity of staying on the road with four children. Some might question what those children are missing in terms of formal education and stability. Some might look askance at the idea of asking for help for what to a cynic might seem to essentially be to fund a whim. But the short time I spent in their company convinced me that the world needs people like the Zapps to restore our faith in human nature, to remind us of the innate goodness of people, and to spark the dreams inside us that have lain dormant for far too long. We are our dream.

Buy their book. Be inspired. Spark your dream.

First published in the Budapest Times 13 May 2016

 

7 replies
  1. ola66
    ola66 says:

    ‘Just 16 years into this new millennium, our world is a pessimistic one. We are wary of each other, distrustful, constantly on our guard. We expect the worst to happen and so inevitably it does. We are too proud to ask for help and too often deny others the opportunity to do us good, to show us kindness. We are so mired in a subsistence reality of our own making that we have forgotten how to dream.’ ……..we should all repeat this every day until we realise where our lives are at………we need to dream and then pursue our dreams not allow the life you have described to grind us down. Inspiring piece…….thank you.

    Reply
  2. stcoemgen
    stcoemgen says:

    This is an example of what I call the “Chive Effect”.

    This basically means, that while the dream of millions around the world is simply to not be hungry tomorrow, those with exposure, media attention and press get all the support. The empathy of the modern person seems only to be far too limited: only tied to a person, a face or a individual.

    For example, while the hundreds of poor parents needing a child seat in the same area get none, those with the media exposure (or peddling a book) are “inundated” with child seats.

    Ask to help one person with cancer: tens of thousands of dollars pour in from donors.

    Ask to help with the generic fight against cancer: and we only hear fiscal crickets.

    Over all I am not “restored” in my faith in human nature by such, essentially, ego-centric and simplistic stories.

    Reply
    • Jeremy Wheeler
      Jeremy Wheeler says:

      This comment is what I call the “Iris Effect”. Someone who sells inedible plants for a living criticising someone else who merely wishes to highlight some good in the world.

      Yes, of course it would be nice if everyone cared about world poverty more, but it is a bit much to take the moral high ground when you yourself are dealing in alcoholic drinks and flowers.

      Reply
      • stcoemgen
        stcoemgen says:

        Rule #1 of Internet debate:

        “1. Thou shall not attack a person’s character but the argument itself. (“Ad hominem”)”

        You failed. 🙂

        And, buy the way, all grapes are edible. 🙂 I just choose to make some into a beverage. A free will decision. And I did not say free will, itself, was wrong? No. Rather I commented on my opinion how “individual publicity” is redirecting needed resources away from more common goods.

        Oh, and by the way, I also grow edible apples, pears, tomatoes, cherries, almonds, walnuts, chestnuts, et al, as well as many wild edible plants. 🙂

        Anyone can, and has the rights, to have a generic opinion. But before one makes personal attacks one really should know all the facts, else one may look ridiculous. 🙂

        Reply
    • Is that what you really mean?
      Is that what you really mean? says:

      Ah, yes, the ad hominem argument. Such examples as “And you are thinking too much like a tourist.” or “You may find some hanging signs a new and exciting photo op, but to the locals they are no more interesting, or noteworthy, than you walking by your kitchen sink” or “you really do kind of live in an expat bubble” spring to mind. Seems you like to give other people beans, Kevin, but are less comfortable when a serving of that vegetable comes your way.

      Reply
      • stcoemgen
        stcoemgen says:

        P.S. Jeremy seemed a bit upset. The emoji “:-)” after most of my comments to Jeremy were to show humor, and so not to take the sentences before the 🙂 too seriously. Maybe you shouldn’t either. 😉

        Besides, he got his main personal critique of me really muddled: I do not sell inedible plants for a “living” (the Irises are a hobby — my wife’s by the way). And I do not even sell wine at all, yet, and the sinful nature of wine (and maybe women and song), he seemed to bring as an argument would be best perhaps discussed at my blog — since it deals with, well at least wine. 🙂

        Reply

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