Richard is another man who carries a message of peace; in his being and in his speech.
A Californian by birth and Ba’hai by choice, Richard Hastings had signed up with the air force many years ago, before deciding that it was not his calling to live a life in the fields of battle. Instead, he now spends his time on the sports field – teaching students at an International School in Malaysia. The route from airfield to football field was a circuitous one; a couple of teaching degrees, followed by various postings (with his wife Debby, also a teacher, and two daughters in tow) around the world; including a Cree reserve in Alberta, Vancouver Island, Brazil and, for the past few years, KL.
I’d met Richard a couple of times after returning with Debby from yoga or a swim at their pool. But it’s only after hearing Debby’s stories about her husband’s other interests and gifts; and only after I’ve read his book, called Dreams of Peace, that I awaken to the possibility of confiding my dreams to Richard’s interpretations – if only I could remember them.
And so one early morning, after a rather sleepless night, I am struck by how easily I can recall even the minutiae of a long, winding and starkly surreal dream. Almost immediately, I flip open my laptop and type out every bit of memory I conjure up from my seemingly illogical dream. I’m stumped, even though (thanks to Richard’s book) I recognize a few elements for what they represent in my life.
One evening, many days later, I read my dream aloud to Richard, expectantly searching his face for tell-tale signs of puzzlement. To the contrary, he is deep in thought.
And then, like a lamplighter straight out of a Dickens novel, Richard touches a wick to oil, cautiously lifting a lid on my mystery. Resuscitating a timid candle out of blackness, first to a flicker, then to a flame. When strange images have taken hold of the night; when those images linger long after the break of dawn before slowly beginning to dissipate, Richard skillfully breathes light, clarity and simplicity into the void.
An interpreter of dreams, Richard is, a dream-deconstructer. Peeling off layers of darkness and confusion, stringing together disparate parts of my dream’s journey – a home, injured bodies on a roof, wellies, a hike up a mountain, a high school friend, a dog, a horizontal chairlift and money – into a beaded whole. Somehow, incredibly, he unburies meaning from the hovering remnants of sleep.
Long after we’ve wrapped up, Richard’s words – about memory, distraction, progress and persistence – are etched in my mind, one phrase in particular resonating like a mantra I might have known all along: How you got there before is how you’re going to get there again…