I've been thinking a lot about dreams these days. Or should I say, I've been dreaming a lot? I recently went through my dream journal. Though I dream often, I only write in it whenever a dream really sticks to my ribs upon waking. Which, even when I have wonderful dreams, is seldom the case. And looking through, it was hard not to see the same handful of stories crop up. Six, in fact.
1. The ability or inability to run quickly (sometimes rollerblade, sometimes fly)
2. Sex and Love
3. Serving (usually in a restaurant the size of a concert hall)
4. My dad
5. Shopping for things that don't exist (exotic, colorful, impossible plants)
6. Getting in a car accident or my teeth falling out
Rather than be one overly interested in the meaning behind dreams, in general, I revel in the creation of the things. I love how intangible they are. That people swap identities, that rooms shift when you turn your back on them, even your own abilities (one minute you can fly, the next you walk as if underwater). The theatre of dreams is an exquisite (and very affordable!) place where the scenes are tailored for you. Where anything is possible and intrigue is without question.
But to look at this list, I can't help but think that these are also the driving factors of my waking life. The ability to run quickly (1) having to do with my fear of being trapped, whether in a job that I don't want or in a relationship that isn't one of mature love. Which leads nicely into the desire of my bass drum beating heart to join a band (2). Or at least try some gigging.
Serving (3), well, that's a simple reality of my day to day life. The thing I process more than anything, just as most people spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about work. And when I'm not running cheeseburgers around, I'm thinking about what will be next for me. How to make more money now, without sacrificing Shipwreck and my autonomy. Thinking about projects, about kids books I could write, about the million things I'd like to make and do. But after my horrendous week last week, it's clear that all this work can't fill all the gaps I feel inside. I don't think of my father nearly as often as I did before he died, but there is no way to deny how much the experience of his death has changed me (4), both in really beautiful ways and in ways I am still having trouble processing.
Shopping represents my love of collection (5), and my desire for creation both. It provides a money-free place where I can collect the resources that I can use to take stock of things. Things that can go up in flames or cause problems, and fill me with worry (6). The worry my mother handed over to me genetically.
For the first time since I've started Shipwreck, my little baby princess sweetie pie of a business, a phrase popped in my head. It's my voice whenever I am comforting someone, and I am saying sweetly, "you don't have to." It pushed all the air out of my lungs to hear it. There has been nothing on my mental ticker tape regarding Shipwreck except "let's light this damn candle!" since day one (and maybe a fair amount of, "when is this candle gonna be lit already?").
It makes sense that it popped up. I've had such a long period of inactivity. Being home for a year brought so many things into my life. A sense of the importance of rituals (this blog hardly existed until I needed it as a creative release from relentless bad news and sadness), a chance to put all my preaching about communication into action with my father, a reconnection with family in general and an opportunity to look at life from a different position. And though life doesn't have a pause button, I felt like I had a break from it. Of course I was still working in my own way, and paying rent in my own way, and maintaining friendships and professional connections in my own way. But mentally I was removed. I was waiting.
I returned to my life in New York with such confidence and verve that having moved from one job to another, having re-inhabited the apartment and so many of my habits again, I saw this as an opportunity to clean my living space, to re-configure my money situation, I was excited to adjust and address all the things that had put me off in varying degrees in my last stay here. I was determined to do it better this time. To adjust my situation and expectations both. To not let the joy slip away so easily this time. And now that I'm rounding the corner with my bird fact party favors, my room is significantly more organized, I've gotten a budget going that is more appropriate for my life, I'm looking out at my future and am very unsure what I'm seeing. Because I "don't have to."
My father's death has softened the importance of so many things. What gave me such lust for life on my first weeks back here are the same things that rob me of my joy now. I am just so lucky to be alive. To have what I have. The friends, the apartment, the opportunity, the talent, the access to hot water, all of it. But how do you come to terms with all you have when the things themselves don't give you the feelings they used to, even a few weeks ago? It is precisely the language I used the last time I saw a therapist, and the thing that anti-depressants helped me with in the past.
The thing about waiting is, you are not quite present. This is what I am struggling with the most. It is easier to be in the moment when the scary things are far in the future and the past props you up and rallies you on. But when your immediate past is a hurricane and your immediate future a strong fog, things aren't so simple. Just as I discovered last time I had a head-on with the idea of my mental health, it's hard to do the work when things are going well. I couldn't really take on all this reflection and processing in Austin, where so much fun and so much luck hit me simultaneously.
What I must remember now, is that the future will come no matter what, and there's no way it won't be worth living. I don't need to constantly worry about it. I need to re-focus on my present and not let myself wait anymore for things to happen. Not that I necessarily have to make big moves (though a new job isn't a bad start), but just that I need to stop counting the hours until I have to go to work. I have serving jobs specifically because I am good at them and they don't cause me stress. And yet I have been saddled with anxiety during this transition from one job to the next.
So, as positive as it was for me to state my intentions last week. I must also remember to inhabit this current day. To try and get what I can from it without thinking about what other shape the day could have taken. To breathe this breath before I take the next.
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