I guess this is the end
Last night I had a dream that fits into a particular genre.
I was in one location, spending time with people I did not know well (despite one of them being my mother). I was informed that there was going to be an event that I was supposed to attend the next day. Since it would occur during working hours, I would have to arrange getting time off with my boss. That’s when the trouble started. Because suddenly the event was actually happening today! In an hour! But my lunch break was almost over. If I call Boss, first I have to locate their phone number–I can’t find it! Okay, then email. Using someone else’s computer, though, with an unfamiliar interface–can’t figure out how it works! Oh no, now it’s 3 p.m., the party has started, I’m needed upstairs. (But if I don’t clear things with my boss ahead of time, will I have a job to go back to? And That Would Be Terrible.)
Other variations of this dream involve unexpected travel. I’m suddenly informed I will be leaving for a trip to Europe of indefinite duration this evening. What do I pack? Or, I’m in a train station, about to head home from work (or at school, about to board a bus home), and somehow I find myself on a train (or bus) going somewhere else. I’m often aware that I don’t have identification, money, or a cell phone with me. How do I prepare for whatever’s coming?
The train dreams are actually my favorite. Since I’m already on the train when it becomes clear that my destination has changed, I can just relax and go with it. Yeah, I fret somewhat over my inability to advise whoever’s waiting for me at home that I won’t be seeing them any time soon, but other than that, I’m usually interested to find out what’s going to happen.
The dreams about Europe, and now, this party dream, are different. Instead of sensibly getting into a mindset of curiosity and ‘openness to experience’, I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, ever more desperate to fit still more clothes into an already-bulging suitcase. Or the usual lines of communication are unavailable (phone, email), which is distressing, but my real concern is, once I get a hold of the person I’m trying to reach, how on earth am I going to explain this? I can just hear them now: “Wait, so your mother is throwing a huge party that you’re required to attend, right now, and you just heard about it 5 minutes ago? How stupid do you think I am?” (In my actual family of origin, that scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Not because my mother would’ve pulled together a big party on no notice; she would have been planning it for quite a while. It’s just that no one would have thought telling me about it was important. You know, in case I already had plans.)
Still another type of dream I’ve had seems to also fit into this genre. In it, I’m spending time with an attractive person, and we are really hitting it off. In the moment, it seems a great idea to have sex, so we do. It’s only after it’s over that I suddenly recall that I’m married. And now I’m going to have to explain myself to Spouse, and possibly face the prospect of divorce, or I’ll have to conceal what I’ve done. I tend to be overcome with remorse, wondering how I didn’t stop things before they went too far. With those dreams, I often wake up in a panic.
(I figured out long ago that, for me, ‘sex in a dream’ = ‘creativity’ or ‘the drive to create art’. Not actual physical sex.)
Again, with the sex dream, all of my emotional energy drains away from the present, so that I can obsessively worry about explanations that won’t be believed anyway. Or preparations that will be inadequate.
So in a dream, when I find myself in (certain kinds of) unfamiliar circumstances, these specific authority-figure dream characters either (1) in real time, prevent me from responding appropriately to my environment; or (2) after I have responded appropriately, they shame me for it, and threaten me with the specter of abandonment. In no case do I find myself able to respond appropriately and feel good about my decisions.
As I began writing this blog post 6 hours ago, I thought I would be exploring recurring setbacks to my creative process, like those depicted in this genre of dreams. But the more I’ve written, and rewritten, thrown some stuff out, revised still more things, it’s become clear there is something more complicated going on. The recurring setbacks to my creative process, therefore, are symptoms of something else entirely.
My old life has ended. Many treasured relationships no longer fit. And one of them is this blog.
I have learned an amazing amount about myself, about the world, about what’s possible, from writing this blog. It’s been a wonderful, enriching journey. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
But I need to be someone different. I don’t know who. But I do know that I can’t be that person here. So it’s time to go.