Like you, I daydream. Mostly mine are about running or riding. In them, nothing hurts. Nothing is hard, or it’s hard but I’m in love with it being hard. Everything works. I’m flowing through space. It’s glorious, and the dream fades and I want it. I want to get out the door and get it.
But the daydream is not at all like my actual experience of being out there on the trail.
I won’t describe what that’s actually like, because you know. You’re out there. You know how fleeting those magic moments are.
When I was in college I went through a film phase (doesn’t everyone?), and it was very much the time of Blue Velvet. I think of the opening scene, the idyllic neighborhood, the white picket fence, the too bright music, roses in full bloom, then things turns sinister, a man has a heart attack watering his yard, the camera panning down to a seething mass of insects just beneath the surface, the rot right there, just barely out of view.
So much of what we say about being outdoors is idealized, the hard parts and pain conveniently excised, all of it polished and perfect.
In Blue Velvet, Roy Orbison sang:
A candy-colored clown they call the sandman
Tiptoes to my room every night
Just to sprinkle stardust and to whisper
“Go to sleep. Everything is all right.
The paradox is that, even though we will suffer the indignities of our bodies out on the trail, everything really is alright. Oh, our ankles will give way. We’ll cramp. We’ll sit by the side of the trail, soaked in sweat, wondering how we’ll hobble home. Maybe we piss our pants, or vomit. Maybe we cry.
We didn’t set out to break our own hearts. We wanted that dream run, that flowy ride, that left us feeling whole, not torn apart.
But just before the dawn, I awake and find you gone
I can’t help it, I can’t help it, if I cry
I remember that you said goodbye
That’s right. That’s reality intruding, the rot beneath the surface, our bodies unable to sustain the beautiful daydream.
But it’s alright, and it’s all right. Everything is just as it should be, the perfection of the daydream and the pain of reality. What’s remarkable is that sometimes, occasionally, the dream permeates the daylight, and mercifully, reality seldom ruins the dream.