Recurrent dreams kind of scare me.
It’s bizarre enough to dream– for your brain to fully flesh out this alternate reality that seems just as real and as intense as your waking life. When your brain breaks the conventions of physics and time, you’re even willing to let it slide a little bit. Why not? You’re dreaming and your mind is selling the story to you as it spins it. So time seems pretty flexible– probably no more flexible than the last time you drove home from work or the store and found that you totally could not remember the last ten minutes of driving.
My brain is pretty good at telling itself stories. I could tell you it’s because of my dreadful childhood where I was locked into the closet with nothing to amuse me but smelly shoes and the trailing ends of coats, but I’d be lying. My childhood had its traumas, but I usually hid in the closet on my own initiative, just to be alone with my daydreams and resentments. Now, I’m terrified of small tight spaces. Weird, huh?
Going down slides is kind of out for me these days– those small spaces remind me of MRI tubes and I get panicky. The kids love it. The five year old, in the photo, was loving the slide at the zoo, especially since the treehouse that emerges from has a hole in the base of the “tree” that makes a perfect little hidey-hole. I think he spent most of his time either on the slide or in the hiding spot. In that way, at least, he’s a lot like me. (In everything else, the kid is a clone of his dad.)
Over and over again, you climb up the ladder and slide down the slide. Repetition is fun. So why isn’t it fun to dream the same dream again? Why are the ludicrous details and shifts in reality so jarring, if you’ve already dreamed them before?
Last night, I was younger than I really am, thinner than I really am, and I had a handicapped older brother who took us on a gravity-defying RV trip through an alternate version of Louisiana. The setting was exactly the same as a dream I’ve had before, complete with horses, bonzai classes, and bubbly Oriental pop music blaring out of speakers. The RV was slightly different– it had been a truck and travel trailer in the first dream, and the brother was different, but the trip was the same. I walked along the same paths, admired the same horses, felt just as awkward when I walked out into a public concert, and I was trespassing on the same businessman’s property. But this time, I didn’t really buy it. I’d been here before– I knew it wasn’t real. I knew the ending before it happened– knew we’d be rolling down the side of the mountain and emerging into a desert that was pulled straight out of Arizona. I knew there would be snakes.
Worse, I knew that it would end. We’d get away from the snakes and my brother would stop being such a jerk and we’d drive on, and I’d wake up. Poof.
That’s something I try not to think about in my everyday life–the inevitable ending to this adventure. I’m glad that I don’t know when it’s ending. If I did, I’d be obsessed with it. Every day would be lived in reference to that last day. I wouldn’t be able to delay dealing with problems, wouldn’t be able to pretend that I’m immortal, and wouldn’t be able to ignore the fact that every day IS numbered, already.
When you ask people “if they’d do it all over again” . . . the usual answer is that they either wouldn’t choose to change anything (and wouldn’t choose to do it all over again) or that they WOULD do it over, change some things, and change the outcome. But, if you could live it all over again . . . WITHOUT changing the outcome . . . would you choose to live through your life again, knowing just how it ends?
I think it would be impossible. After living through your life once, you’d have too much insight to NOT fiddle with things. You’d forgive people easier, you’d see the fruitlessness of some of your struggles and avoid them. You’d try to fix the mistakes you’d made in dealing with people, especially your spouse and your kids. You would know that “I only have X number of days left.” And each day would seem more precious, wouldn’t it?
Maybe I’m making a mistake in NOT living that way.
I think I am.
But how does one get away from that selfish, self-absorbed, and blindfolded You? How do you strip the blinders off and appreciate each day as a precious gift? Each sunrise and sunset? Every hug and smile?
How does one do that without making it a schmaltzy celebration of ones’ self?
I’ll tell you if I ever figure it out. But I think . . . just maybe . . . it starts with being grateful for each day. If you value it, appreciate it, and are thankful you have it . . . it’s got to be better.