Will we inspire someone long after we’re gone?
In a previous blog I wrote about a turn of the twentieth century man named John “Jack” Cameron whose ashes were laid to rest on his farm site on Ricker Mountain in Waterbury, Vermont. John moved there from the Canadian West. People who hear his story find it odd he would come East to buy a farm in a fading Vermont mountain community. Their next question usually is, why was he buried on the mountain? He had only been on the farm for seven to eight months before his illness forced him to a hospital in Boston where he died. Why not ask his soon-to-be widow to send his ashes back to his mother in Rainy River, Ontario?
I can’t say with total certainty, but here is what my intuition tells me. John Cameron chose to be laid to rest on his land precisely because it was his. After spending his life laboring on other people’s farms and logging throughout British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, he saved enough to buy a piece of land that was his own to work. Not even death would take that from him.
A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. –Colin Powell
For John, he had finally found his home, a place that belonged to him. On this piece of Ricker Mountain, he was his own man working for himself. This is why he risked his life felling giant trees, why he traveled hundreds of miles a year between jobs, why he spent hours laboring in the fields and on the farms of other men. It was with one goal—to have a farm and land of his own. In his mid-40s, the time had come, the decision hastened by the emergence of a stomach ulcer. I imagine for a man who shared the crowded spaces of the loggers’ shanty villages, it must have been heaven to have a house of his own.
Reminders of Ricker Mt’s Past
He had a dream, a vision for himself, and that fueled him. He never lost sight of his goal. John let nothing stand his way, even when his health began to deteriorate. When he saw the small Vermont farm advertised through a nationwide farm agency, he must have sensed this was the opportunity for which he had been saving. It was time for him to act on realizing his dream.
Though it’s true he was on Ricker Mountain a short time, I can understand and sympathize with the feeling of finding the place that is in tune with your soul. A place where you belong, a place you’ve always yearned for and gives you a sense of finally coming home. I spent less time on Skye than John spent on his mountain farm, but the island resonated with my soul offering me a sense of peace unlike anywhere else. When it’s time, I want my ashes spread on the Sleat Peninsula of Skye.
I don’t believe it’s the time we spend in a place that determines a sense of our belonging to it, but rather the synching of its energy with our spirit. It’s something that transcends the physical state.
We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. –Jesse Owens
John let no one take his dream away. He didn’t listen to the naysayers who may have asked him with eyebrows raised, “Why go back East to farm?” He continued on his course, made his way to Vermont, looked over the property, and decided this was where he wanted to be, where his dreams would take root and bear the fruit he had waited so long to see.
I am saddened that he never had the opportunity to farm the land before TB claimed him, but I am glad he came to Ricker Mountain to spend the last few months of his life, and I am thankful to his widow for returning his ashes to the mountain and taking care to mark them with a cairn. Otherwise I would never have found him nor would I have had the chance to discover his true story. I find inspiration in his perseverance at realizing his dream. He kept his eyes on the prize, and just as important, he didn’t settle for anything but what he wanted—a farm of his own.
Like John Cameron, I have a dream of my own. I have a vision of myself as a writer. It’s one that keeps re-emerging in my life and has become more insistent at being nurtured and realized. Now is the time. As I’ve pursued writing, I’ve also rediscovered my sense of adventure and love of travel. New possibilities have opened for me as I learn another language. And through this long and continuing metamorphosis, I’m awed to see myself growing in self-confidence as I learn to believe in my abilities, nurture my independence, and listen to my intuition.
John’s story reminds me our dreams rarely come true overnight. For most of us, it takes the mindset of a marathon runner to achieve them, often crossing the finish line only after years of hard work and overcoming setbacks.
Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. –Khalil Gibran
I think it would surprise, but please, John Cameron to know over one hundred years later his story is an inspiration to someone. Proof that after we die, we never know who will follow the breadcrumbs we leave as we pursue our dreams. Someone may find the motivation they need in the journey we made to the place—physical or spiritual—that resonated with our souls.
(Just a reminder–This article originally appeared on Medium.com: