A number of years ago I was using my forklift to move something around my yard when I accidentally backed over a good-sized sculpture entitled “Invention for Dreaming”
Looking down from my forklift I could see what I thought was a look of shock, surprise, and anguish in its eyes. The sculpture seemed to want to say something, sat up a bit, and then relaxed in a heap as it gave up the ghost.
Then, from my lofty perch I surveyed the damage. I sat for a good long while, contemplating the uncertainty of life, the permanence of death, and other weighty matters, and I gradually came to the conclusion that “ Invention for Dreaming” was pretty well squashed.
“Perhaps it can be resurrected”, I thought, “and it will become ‘Inventor of Squashed Dreams’.”
Yet I knew in my heart that there was little if any hope for this sculpture’s future.
Many times in the past I have thrown the word “dream” into a title of a work of art, especially if I had no idea what else to call it.
To refer to “dreams” is a cue for people to accept the possibility that a deeper meaning is lurking under the exterior of whatever it is they are looking at.
Hopefully though, it will never occur to them that the possibility also exists that a deeper meaning might not be there.
In associating dreams and art I leaned heavily on Carl Jung.
“Carl?” I would say, “Don’t ya think this would be a good time to call this thing some kind of dream?”
It was to become the literary equivalent of getting away with murder.
But “Invention for Dreaming” was the real thing.
Born in a time of high aspirations, it had sprung from a deep well of unquestioned optimism.
Flattening this sculpture was a bitter end to a happier time.
“Invention for Dreaming” had been a milestone, which had marked a stage in my life filled with the hope of noble pursuits.
Yes, I have faced the wreckage of my dreams before, and I’m well acquainted with the hazards and the vicissitudes of life (both foreign and domestic).
This, however, was different, and I knew it.
I pushed the twisted pieces of steel aside, sighed deeply, and went on about my business.
However, the unintended squashing of “Invention for Dreaming” coincided with the unintended meltdown of the economy.
And because of some financial missteps of my own, it also coincided with a personal reversal of fortune.
In fact for a number of years it seemed as if all of my dreams were headed for the scrap heap, with scrap prices plummeting by the hour.
And though I have managed to pull myself from the depths of my despair, I have concluded that a life without at least 3 “plan B”s on file is a life fraught with danger.
Years went by and “Invention for Dreaming” lay quietly moldering (if steel can molder) close to where it fell.
Then, my internal anguish having subsided a bit, I began once again to put some sculptures together. And as often happens, the work took off in a direction all its own.
Before I knew it, I was dealing with an ever-evolving sculpture, which was to become “Reinvention of Broken Dreams”.
Tangled in the bosom of this piece were many of the crushed elements of “Invention for Dreaming”.
Yet, the parts of the earlier sculpture somehow transcended themselves and were now a part of a more cohesive whole.
Yes, Virginia, rebirth can come to anyone, at any time.
During the time of “Reinvention’s” gestation I was keenly aware of my own mortality, and the limitations of all of our aspirations and ambitions. Yet dreams, even broken dreams, do not soon die. They linger, bide their time, and wait out the heavy hours of the night. Perhaps they are the last of the party-guests to go.
And though, aware of the passing of all, I can still feel the throb and counterweight of life pulsing on, completing the machine and pulling me closer to the source.
“The Reinvention of Broken Dreams” holds within its heart the twin polarities of life and death.
For a time, it smells of age and dusty relics. Like forgotten elders it creaks, and crawls, and groans, crying out, beneath the weight of yesterdays. It contains within itself a vestige of all that went before and it yields neither hope nor faith in the future.
I think I hear its death rattle coming, a final, ponderous shutter forever and not so far away.
But then the device slogs on and life surges forth, clanking noiselessly away. Even until it is beyond the night, it clanks and invents and reinvents its dreams. Pushing one and pulling another, till broken and not, they are all joined together, one to the other, all one and the same. Twisting them into a confection both bitter and sweet, night and day, awake and in sleep, the machine endures.
Its movements having frozen in time, are visible only with inner eyes fixed slightly beyond the horizon, to the place where dreams subsist.
My own dreams with their nights in tow spill over into days to come.
And there are others that I think will show: dreams that once gathered in a distant field at play, an awkward dream which pitches forward, slips, falls, and shatters windward of its shadow self, and still others, once seeking to encounter their promise along the garden path, now passing silently in the night.
All will congregate in that chosen hour
And when the ghost wind blows the candles out, there I too will be, my dreams and others strewn about haphazardly, chasing their eternal assignation.
I am there, (my towering machine there with me)...tinkering away, tugging on a broken gear, looking for a bolt to twist, a lever to pull, looking into the heart of the device and straining to keep it ever on its boundless course.