(Above photo by freelance video producer Anita Harnish)
My father told me a story today about when he tried to open the biggest window in the world. This window, he explained, was 680 miles long and 500 and some miles high. I asked him, “Don’t you mean feet, Dad?” No, he was quite sure that it was miles and spanned a distance from St. Louis to Michigan. And then on to Big Bear Lake, California.
He explained that there were only certain sections that would open and only at very specific times. He kept finding these places of possibility but he was always just a few seconds too late. By the time he got to them, they were locked. He passed by beautiful resorts, mountains, and crossed many states, all while trying desperately to open this epic window. Try as he did, he could not find a way to open it.
Towards the end of his story, I said “Dad, this sounds like a dream.” He agreed that it probably was. But in his telling of it I believe that he believed it had really happened. It had the ring of truth to it, like all good stories do. But the imagery of his dream and his lucid rendition of it have made a mark on my imagination. It was a big, important dream. It had some of the ingredients of a hero’s quest. The pursuit of something pure; the light. The testing and struggle of the protagonist. But this dream did not end with him as Jason securing the golden fleece and bringing it home to the family. The dream ended with him unfulfilled and still striving for that thing just beyond his reach.
I believe dreams hold the power that we wish we were brave enough to take ownership of in our waking time. They tap into primordial symbols that we have forgotten the meaning of, either in this life or the last.
I love how he told me his dream by not telling me it was a dream. I could hear in his voice that he remembered following that window on and on, looking for the way to the light. The air. The open sky. I consider it a hopeful dream. A window is transparent, unlike a door or a wall. He was clearly seeing through to the outside. Or the other side.
Maybe dreams make artists of us all. The simple intensity of a window that big begs to be rendered in line and scale and shades of light. The sheer immensity of a structure that size dwarfs the man who imagined it. But then he did imagine it. So he has that on his side. It’s his window.
I said just yesterday, my dad has spent his life teaching us all to ‘See the big picture’. I will now imagine it to be a big picture window.