March 09, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Dream Journeys

I rarely remember my dreams.

But this week's prompt has got me thinking about a dream that was so powerful it stayed with me past the point of waking. The dream took place in some indeterminate point in the future, when I had sadly learned that I had an illness that was going to kill me.

I had made my peace with this reality, but was finding it tiring to deal with everyone else's grief and stress around it.

Then I had an epiphany that I didn't need to do that work, that it was theirs to do, and this in turn meant that I could turn my waning energy to reading and writing.

In the dream, I was elated by this realization. My illness became my ally. My life's journey was conspiring to offer me this incredible opportunity to push away any and all distractions and focus on only the essential. There was a room, bright with sun, and a comfortable chair, and my favorite pen, and the kind of yellow narrow-lined paper I love, and walls and walls of books... it felt like heaven, and I wasn't even dead yet.

And then I woke up.

I think I will never forget the confusing and conflicting swirl of emotions that washed through me in those first few waking moments. I'm not going to die. Well, I am going to die. But I'm not sick. And I don't need to push my loved ones away. But that room, with its light and peace, was a dream.

The other dream journey I'm thinking of is one I'm in the midst of, the one that everyone talks about but no one can quite prepare you for, that of being a parent.

When D was tiny, I remember feeling that my "job" consisted largely of interpreting. I was so attuned to him, and he was so small and powerless; until he could speak for himself, the work of figuring out what he needed and then translating that to action fell to me.

Now that he talks (sometimes enough for all of us!), my interpreting has shifted in the other direction. Instead of explaining him to the world, I'm explaining the world to him. The catch is that I feel perpetually unprepared and underqualified. Why are your privates private? Why do some people leave their sweeties and other people stay? Why is peace so much harder than war? How does a squirrel get killed by just a bonk on the head? Why do great teachers like Jesus and Martin Luther King Jr. get killed? How did the guy who thought of plate tectonics think of it? Why do most people want to fly to Australia instead of taking a boat?

When I was in college, one of my roommates (hi, S!), who had grown up in New York City, arrived having never learned to swim. She took advantage of the campus pool and learned. It was sweet to watch her progression; she had this childlike wonder, just barely filtered by her near-adult experience. "I floated on my back today!"

That's one of the great gifts of parenting, for me. Childhood wonder, every day, filtered by your own adult perspective. Life's journey, hand-in-hand... a dream coming true.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspirations.)


Regina Clare Jane said...

What an interesting dream! A dream like that would stay with me, too!
And I can't even imagine a more difficult journey than being a parent! But with the journey and all its hardships, you learn something new every day! We forget what it was like to be little once, and parents certainly have the opportunity to re-live that child-like wonder all over again with their own little ones! It sounds- and looks like you are doing a wonderful job! Cute picture!

rubyslippers said...

such an insightful post! Your dream reminds me of Carolyn Myss who wrote the Anatomy of Spirit--she writes of making allies with all parts of ourselves (disease and sickness included). And wow, your little D sounds like a wise soul. I can see how being a parent can be a humbling experiece.

Stacy said...

This was a lovely post and I certainly share your sense that life through the eyes of a child is a richer experience, humbling and thrilling all at once.

megnificent! said...

I loved your vivid descriptions of your dream! Sunlight, walls of books and the yellow lined writing paper; the kind you like...

Parenting gives us a second look at life. We've forgotten how wonderful things look, taste, smell (or how bad!), etc. and we are reminded of those things through the eyes of our children.

I remember so many "little things" about spending time with my kids, when they were little, like how Austin loved to romp in the grass, and Sawyer hated the feel of it. How all three of them would allow me to read aloud to them outside on a blanket, and they would always beg me for "one more chapter!" I tried to think hard about the answers I had to their questions, but I learned early on, I didn't always have an answer, but simply said, "Isn't that curious? or Funny?"

Your picture reminded me of my boys Osh Kosh overall sets and their cool little tenny shoes or boots. My daughter had mostly girl themed outfits, and there were a couple that took my breath away--burgunday velvet overalls with a matching hat; ruby red slippers, shiny red Doc Marten high top boots!
Wonderful things. Thanks for jarring my memory! ANd by the way; very nice picture....

Patty said...

I think the fact that you so often don't remember your dream is why the dream you described is so vivid and memorable. I, too, can't remember my dreams, for the most part, so I'm happy to recall snippets now and then. I dream of having such a dream as yours!

Kimberley McGill said...

Your dream gave me goose bumps - I was a hospice volunteer for a couple of years and there was a woman who, for as long as she was able, wrote story after story. She also radiated calmness that was extraordinary.
Your son is beautiful!

Frances said...

RE: How did the guy who thought of plate tectonics think of it?
Wow! how did you ever answer that one?
Actually I wouldn't mind knowing hwow he thought it up myself.
Your post and amazing picture helped me remember all those fun kid moments. My daughter will be 24 her next birthday, but I swear she was a kid just a minute ago.
Thanks for sharing,

gautami tripathy said...

Journey with kids seems dream like when we look back. They grow up so fast!

Loved your post.

Journey within the mind

Liz C said...

Hi Shelly! It took a while, but I finally got to your blog. Your writing about interpreting the world to D reminded me of something Jane Hulting said to me when I was pregnant with M. She just loved how she rediscovered the world through the eyes of her son. Things we take for granted are marvels for a child witnessing or experiencing them for the first time. It's just one of the many treasures of parenthood, I guess. Hope you are well.