Saturday, February 13, 2010

Penny Dreams, Quarter Wishes

As 2010 started, Blogville abounded with posts about goals and wishes. Christine over at Monkey Funk posted one on making dreams come true. After I commented on it, she commented back: And what dreams are you going to fuel, April?

Her words reminded me of the lines from a Thomas Beddoes poem, "Dream-Pedlary:"

If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the crier rung the bell,
What would you buy?

I never answered Christine. (Sorry, Christine!) I didn't have an easy answer at the time; I'm not sure I do yet. If the crier rung the bell, I'd be sitting on the bench, watching everyone buy a dream, then shrugging, "I dunno."

About the same time Christine was pressing us on our dreams, Sharon at Musings of a Midlife Mom wrote about breaking her budget into penny increments; she only needed so many pennies to make up the loss of the income from her part-time job.

A penny for my thoughts? I can't begin to price them.

Sharon's post made me smile. Then last week I am the Working Poor wrote about saving change, something I do too.

So many of my dreams are intangible. I am like Whistler in the movie "Sneakers," who, when given the chance to name any sum of money as payment for turning over a decryption chip, says "I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men." That's a good start. Well, maybe that and universal health care coverage in this country. (Of course, the response line in the movie fits with that last request of mine: "We are the United States Government! We don't do that sort of thing.")

So many of my desires come without a price tag. A good book to read. Time in which to write. Hearing Warren's marimba playing float up from the basement in the evening. Seeing smiles on the faces of Legal Clinic clients when they eat my baked goods. Talking about cheese making with Sam. An email from a girlfriend. A letter in the mailbox. Guests at the supper table. Running into friends downtown. Flopping on the couch alongside Warren at the end of a way too long day and knowing I don't have to say a word, quietly grateful for his nearness. Telegraphing that gratitude instantaneously by a touch to his hand.

This is all the stuff of a rich life. It is the stuff of my rich life.

Yet the question posed by Christine was "And what dreams are you going to fuel, April?"

Sometimes I read back over my own blog and wonder whether I even have any dreams beyond the life I am already living. It is already full to overflowing. It is marked by tomatoes and peppers - both their growth and their harvest, by symphony concerts and the Legal Clinic, by books and baking. Almost all of my dreams are already woven into the fabric of my life. If I had one dream more, one maybe-just-slightly-out-of-reach dream for the year, it might be for us to take the train to Montana this summer. Even assuming we put our hands on the pennies with which to do so, there are still all those schedules to juggle, including that of the tomatoes.

Beyond that, though, I can't say. I feel I have enough, more than enough. That's a problem I can afford to have.

I recently wrote about the novels of E. L. Konigsburg and a scene in which runaway children find coins visitors have tossed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art fountain. Jamie speculates that a very rich person must have tossed a quarter into the fountain. His older sister disagrees.

"Someone very poor," Claudia corrected. "Rich people have only penny wishes."

I don't know about Claudia's statement. Penny dreams or quarter wishes, it's still up to us how we spend them. Rich or poor, it's all the same loose change in our hands and hearts at the end of the day.


Sharon said...

I love this post, April, because you described contentment. Contentment with the everyday. It's what fills your days. Dreams are great, but contentment is what I strive for.

Thanks for making me realize that. :)

I am the working poor. said...

Thank you for this post April. I'm so focused on surviving sometimes that I don't take time to think about what I'm greatful for.

Jackie said...

April, this post was beautiful and meaningful. Contentment with what I have in my life is so important and really the main reason I started my blog...thanks for reminding me today.

So glad I found your blog.


Money Funk said...

I know it's not an easy question to answer, hence the reason for asking. :)

I love the way you write your words and prove that so many dreams/desires don't cost a cent. I would love to have time to sit on the porch and read a good book, but I have to work, sit in this cubicle without the sun.

Beautiful post, as usual April. Your dreams are within grasp.

Ellen said...

Reminding me once again to take life as it is and enjoy the moment. Aaahh....