Plant seeds in the ground and sprinkle dreams in the sky
Be they tangible or abstract, dreams have no boundaries – and we are all the richer for having them.
If you are one of those people who have never wondered what it would be like to dream the same thing when awake, at once among the crowd with car hooters playing loud songs, and in mid-sleep in your bed, with a concerto of mosquito wings in your ear, you have my sympathy. You know not what you want in life.
Planting seeds in the ground and sowing dreams in the sky amount to the same thing, which I invite you to name as you wish. I have chosen to name mine “freedoms” or, if we combine all of them, “freedom in a package”. The freedom to open a door or shut it, depending on what is on that side or this side of it. The freedom to come or go, to live or die.
According to Dylan Thomas, of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night fame, this amounts to “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower”. If you’re not free, you won’t be able to bloom where you’re planted.
There are, however, freedoms we cannot have, such as killing, raping, striking one’s spouse, stealing and others. Your freedom ends where that of the next person begins.
The voice in Alberto Ríos’s poem We Are of a Tribe offers no name to its dream and merely describes it: “Hoping that, someday, the roots of one / Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other.”
Clouds do not have roots, unless their roots are precipitation, but plants have limbs and these can sometimes reach up to great heights, though not high enough to reach the sky or touch its underbelly, the place where precipitation is conceived. Besides, the narrating voice in question does admit that this has not happened yet. So, how do you make a dream real?
Let the voice of a dream be adamant, by refusing to let it give up. Come what may – and a lot of surprises have been known to come – no dream cares and none will back down or look back, for a real dream is fearless and will plough onwards with its head in the handlebars.
Rather like Bram Fischer reaching out for his dream across the colour divide and touching it… a little before illness put him in the arms of death. And then there was Steve Biko, who knew that the whole world, and all of us who live in it, share the sky, too. Where would we be without the sky?
Love… is the tap root of the human experience. Without it we’re toast.
Where would clouds go when they wanted to pretend to be sheep, or the bitter face of an old man? In wanting to play that character, cirrus clouds long ago learnt to be thin strands of white hair, above land that is today in need of age-old wisdom. A dream, even by definition alone, shall be held back by no borderline.
Some dreams are perturbing, like when your brain wakes up before your body does, and you try to move a limb or speak but can’t, and you cannot stop panic setting in. It feels like there’s a malefic intruder in your room. The whole episode lasts a few seconds but the experience from within is long. And why would it not be, when you are made to experience the weight of the devil on your legs?.
Martin Luther King’s dream was an offshoot of that sleep phenomenon we call sleep paralysis. His brain was awake but that of his country, the huge US, whose anthem ends with “In God is our trust / And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”, was not awake. King tried to shake America out of its stupor but was unable to do so, and the devil went on sitting on its legs.
Love, the phenomenon we all know, can grow vertically downward and give off small side-roots in the process. It is the tap root of the human experience. Without it we’re toast. There can be no ad-libbing, imitating or faking when it comes to love.
The entire system must be veritable for anything to function. Too much depends on this for us not to take the chance seriously and weed, hoe around, water and fertilise love with cow dung and home-produced compost, as opposed to using fishy superstore products. Only then will love travel deeper until it can connect with, and bring back to us, the heart of gold at the centre of the Earth.
Because, yes, love did enrich South Africa, love wearing gumboots and overalls and hard hats and speaking Fanagalo. They say that if hope is a blind date, it takes love to make the rendezvous productive.
So, are you still one of those people who have never wondered what it would be like to dream the same thing, asleep and awake?
We know dreams have no boundaries, and this, the voice in Ríos’s poem reminds us, no matter if they’re tangible or abstract dreams, real or imaginary ones, hard versus soft ones – a dream has wings, a dream writes what it likes, a dream reaches beyond fences or barriers, and a dream wears rubber boots. Those who fear it deem it a monstrosity. But it is a surefire way to separate reality from illusion and a potential leader from potential despots.
So, yes, go ahead and plant seeds in the ground and sprinkle dreams in the sky, remembering that, for all of this to work, you’re going to have to be rainwater, soil and manure rolled into one. May your roots continue to feed your shoots, and vice versa.
If you won’t listen to me, then listen to old Walt Whitman when he says that nothing is greater than the quality of robust love, because love leads the rest. Let this be in every hour of your actions, in all your looks, in each of your words. DM
Rethabile Masilo is a Mosotho poet from Lesotho who lives in France.
We Are of a Tribe
By Alberto Ríos
We plant seeds in the ground
And dreams in the sky,
Hoping that, someday, the roots of one
Will meet the upstretched limbs of the other.
It has not happened yet.
We share the sky, all of us, the whole world:
Together, we are a tribe of eyes that look upward,
Even as we stand on uncertain ground.
The earth beneath us moves, quiet and wild,
Its boundaries shifting, its muscles wavering.
The dream of sky is indifferent to all this,
Impervious to borders, fences, reservations.
The sky is our common home, the place we all live.
There we are in the world together.
The dream of sky requires no passport.
Blue will not be fenced. Blue will not be a crime.
Look up. Stay awhile. Let your breathing slow.
Know that you always have a home here.
I Dream’d in a Dream
By Walt Whitman
I dream’d in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the
attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth;
I dream’d that was the new City of Friends;
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust
love – it led the rest;
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of
And in all their looks and words.
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.