(Blog by T. J. Prough)
The greatest escape is the daydream. You are conscious. You are lucid. And yet your subconscious mind pulls up in the form of a train and offers to take you on an excursion for some abstract amount of time. I often daydream. And on some occasions, I travel incredible distances to unreal places; along with my life’s future ambitions and past experiences. They tend to manifest into a visual drama that plays out before me. I am a spectator and I am also a participant. It’s hard to describe how one can be a witness and a subject of a dream at the same time, but this is what the vision usually demands of me. So I relent.
I receive in the mail a letter from UNICEF. They ask me
to donate to their organization to help the children of Darfur who are still struggling for survival. UNICEF is the last organization tolerated by the Sudanese government to provide aid to its citizens. It’s quite difficult to imagine the realities of living in such a place where survival is priority over all else. Where is the food coming from? What medicines are available? Will there be more? The questions float about like vultures with a crooked eye toward the origin of these inquiries. How many children will make it through the night? Do they have time for daydreams; that alternate dimension where story and imagery take shape in forms of allegory or symbolism? The numbers of hungry questions grow into a chaotic venue. A ragged croak begins a chorus of throaty responses. I start to run. It’s maddening. It’s hot. So I relent.
There is a whisper, light and haunting, off to some direction of whatever temporary reality this is now. I am simply seduced to follow it along it’s weaving waves of beauty. The air is cooler and the chorus of clamoring noises fades away to reveal that the whisper is a river. Beautiful and wide, the waters open to me. A horse drinks from its edge. “There is something for you on the other side,” he whinnies. Something for me, I ponder? What could be for me in such a desolate and unyielding place? So many questions. No more. The questions will threaten to return and swoop down on me if I ask any more. “Climb up and I will take you,” he snorts, “I will take you to her.” I move through the water and climb upon the horse’s back. The wind is fierce. Such speed. I am blessed, I think to myself. “You have no idea,” he whinnies back to me. He is right. I have no idea. So I relent.
With the hungry questions long gone and the whispering river far behind us, the horse slows to a trot and then to a stop. I look ahead and see wire and dust. There is a rudimentary gate that hangs partially open. A woman approaches and greets us. “Welcome,” she says. The horse replies, “I’ve brought you someone. Someone who can help.” I look around and realize the steed is referring to me. How can I help, I muse. Inside my head a voice answers my question. It is the woman. “I am glad you asked. So few do ask us the question ‘How can I help?’. It is such a simple question.” I didn’t mean it that way, I thought. Who is this woman? “I am the Queen,” she replied. Such a dusty and lowly garb she is wearing.
But her demure, her posture – so elegant and so unassuming – command my attention and humble my doubt. She is royalty, I thought. She wears a crown of compassion upon her head.
Observing past her, I notice the rustling people beyond the fence have been watching us. They have an innocent curiosity. They have a truth in their eyes. And it is in their eyes that I find the answer to the last question. How can I help? I can help because they have enabled me to
find them. The Queen and the horse walk with me for while. We are silent, yet we understand everything now. This place. This train ride of a dream. We return to the circling cackle of questions, the nagging vultures who fix their eyes upon us once more. The Queen turns to them and sighs. With one wave of her hand, she shoos them away and turns to me. “I am glad you have found us,” she smiles. “You will find us again for we are everywhere.” I didn’t ask another question. I turned and drifted away from all I have witnessed – the Queen, the dust, the wire, the river and the questions. Just before the everything was becoming clear, I hear the faint whinny of the horse. “See you again.”
Out of a haze and out of the daydream, I find myself returning to the letter I had received in the mail. The children of Darfur need a pledge. They need an amount. They need support.
And so I relent.
The above art pieces that inspired this daydream entry (quite literally) are from the Sudan Artists Gallery. You can see more work by Sudanese artists in the “Collection” and “Artists” sections on their website. They are all former children of Darfur, and they make wonderful creations that are shown around the world. They make wonderful daydreams. And they create a way for you to find them.