Thursday, 14 November 2013

Dream State...

Hello Friends.

They say we’re supposed to sleep eight hours in a 24 hour day. I always find that statistic startling, not only because I hardly ever achieve eight full hours of sleep, but it means I spend sixteen hours a day doing stuff. That can’t be right, sixteen? I feel like I wake up, drink coffee, go to work, eat something, look up Dianne Weist on the internet and go to bed again. But anyway, here is what’s interesting:

I have, so far, never heard of a movement or a school of thought or a religious sect or any kind of group that contends that our sleeping life is more important or significant than our waking life. Nobody says, “When we are asleep, that’s when we are truly alive! Your waking life is dull and predictable, sleep presents an existence of heightened circumstance, emotion, and opportunity! Forgot about your conscious mind, your subconscious is where it’s at!” Think what relief that could potentially provide to someone. People living in prisons, for instance, might see their captivity as an inconvenience to be sure, but they could see their dream life as one of limitless potential! Maybe it’s cruel to think these things, but I hope labourers in factories have vivid, thrilling, exciting dreams every night. It’s only fair that their subconscious minds compensate them for a lousy day-to-day, y’know?

Of course, there is a much darker side to such a notion. If you devote yourself to your dream state and don’t care for your waking life, nothing can keep you from behaving amorally. If you think, “Doesn’t matter what I do every day, it’s every night that truly counts!” what’s to stop you from stealing and murdering? You might welcome a prison term, even solitary confinement (more time to sleep!).

This preamble is all to say that I haven’t been especially productive or fulfilled in my working life lately. A few writing opportunities have dried up, a couple of contracts have expired, and there is little traction in anything I have recently applied for. Plus, my day job is becoming necessarily more task-oriented as the holidays draw closer and there are more shoppers, requiring a faster, more impersonal approach to the increasing busyness. I had a great visit with my folks last weekend, and have been in touch with friends and everything, I don’t mean to paint a picture of depression or unhappiness, just a lack of creative thought lately. Consequently, though, my dreams have been amazing.

Dream: Glean wisdom and insight from my dreamlife to aid my waking life.

Goal: Achievable. I’ve heard of novelists dreaming of a plot or a character before writing it down, or painters dreaming of an image and then creating great art as they attempt to paint it. Surely attempting to record my dreams will open a well of creativity I can waste on tweets or whatever.

Plan: Write an account of recent dreams exactly as I remember them.

First Dream: I am at an unfamiliar airport but I know that it’s an airport. I’m just wandering around, though, apparently not coming off of a plane or trying to board one. Then I see an old friend we’ll call Sandy, who works for an airline IRL (in real life, which is a necessary acronym to learn, here) and appears to be working at this airport. I try to avoid her in the dream because IRL (see?), Sandy and I don’t keep in touch. Our friendship ended kind of abruptly, as I recall. We had been coworkers and gotten together socially, but she began to break off plans for future get-togethers, then quit the job, then never returned phone calls or email messages from me. I never knew if she put up distance because of something I said or did, or if she associated me with the former job and therefore didn’t want to maintain any connections, or if I simply valued a relationship that didn’t really exist. Maybe we didn’t connect the way that I thought we had and maybe what I saw as a friendship was what she saw as a way to waste time during the workday. So that’s why, in the dream, I turn away and try to leave. She spots me, though, comes over, and we talk. I wish I knew what we talked about, but it was just like it used to be. She realizes her flight is boarding. Before she leaves, she acknowledges that we haven’t been in touch and that she feels really bad about that and hopes we can be friends again, then she hugs and kisses me and goes back to work and that’s all I remember of the dream.

Significance: Well, pretty obvious, I guess. I’m still mystified by the end of my friendship with Sandy (which, by the way, was YEARS ago) and this dream closure is the closest I’ll ever come to resolving it as I wouldn’t know how to contact Sandy even if I wanted to. I think we have this tendency to assume all friendship is loose and malleable. That we don’t necessarily have to keep in touch to stay friends, but I don’t think that’s always true. I have closer friends I don’t speak to as much as I’d like, but we’re still friends and always will be. That’s not the case with everybody. But seeing Dream Sandy in the Dream Airport made me really happy. The fondness with which I recall this dream and my experience with Sandy belies my “all’s well that ends well” attitude.

Second Dream: I’m cast in a family-friendly musical revue that’s in a theme park or a cruise ship or something, with John Stamos as the lead. It’s a broad, silly show aimed at kids and I’m Stamos’ second banana with lines like, “Any more bright ideas?!” and “That went well!” We rehearse quickly and it’s clear that Stamos is taking this very seriously. He’s giving me constant direction and it’s kind of chapping my ass, but I’m aware that he’s a big star and this is a good opportunity. Suddenly it’s opening night and the auditorium is packed with kids and their parents. I think I’m dressed as a dog, and Stamos is a pirate. We take the stage and everything goes completely wrong. Everyone is dropping lines, I’m forgetting large sections of the play, the other actors are a mess, the children are restless and angry, parents are walking out. Incredibly, Stamos is still committed a million percent. I’m fearful because I think he’s going to scream at everyone, but he’s just out there trying harder and harder. He does the final number by himself and I’m aware that I’m just standing onstage, not doing anything. The curtain falls and I’m petrified that we’ll be eaten alive by this 80’s sitcom mainstay and ageless heartthrob. Instead, he’s surprisingly upbeat. He acknowledges that it didn’t go as well as it could have, but we just have to keep rehearsing. He’s confident we’re going to be a smash. That’s all I remember.

Significance: This one is tougher to analyze. I remember watching Full House as a kid and realizing, maybe for the first time, that these were characters as portrayed by actors. The names in the opening credits were real people and the characters on tv were fake. I remember thinking that if I was an actor, I could be a character on a show and have that dual existence, as a person in the real world and in the tv world. This is not to say that Stamos made me want to become an actor, but maybe he did. It wasn’t Coulier, that’s for goddamn sure. And it’s also true that the few professional acting credits I do have are in children’s theatre. But I’ve never worked with a star, or been in a show that’s completely fallen apart onstage, or met Stamos. But perhaps I miss the youthful naiveté with which I once regarded creative things. How do actors or writers do what they do? How can you be so inspired by something you know nothing about?

Third Dream: The Doc and I are walking back from a beach to a place that I’ve never been before IRL, but I understand is where we are vacationing in the dream. It’s a huge beach house that I approach with a towel around my waist and nothing else, as if to suggest that we were skinny-dipping. I open the door and realize that all of my extended family and friends are there waiting for me. Everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life is in one room or another of this beach house. Aunts and uncles and cousins and high school friends and old and new coworkers, everybody. They’re all sitting down to eat, but each group is in a separate but equally beautiful room. For instance, my father’s side of the family is sitting in one room all together, coworkers from Blockbuster video take up another table in another room.  For some reason, I’m only slightly inconvenienced by the fact that I’m in a towel, and nobody comments on it. I run upstairs, change into clothes, come downstairs and try to decide where to sit. The thing I can’t emphasize enough was how beautiful it all looked. These were gorgeous, airy, light-filled rooms and everyone was fantastically turned-out and well-dressed and happy and healthy. Each room of people sitting down to dinner looked like a Ralph Lauren ad or a Norman Rockwell painting. I feel like I’m supposed to choose a table to sit at, but of course, I can’t decide. I want to see and talk to everyone, but everywhere I turn, there’s someone else who wants me to join them. I don’t know where to sit and consider my options but don’t make a decision and that’s all I remember.

Significance: I’m sure everyone has had a version of this metaphor-fest of a dream. Any psychologist worth their salt would have started the meter when I mentioned I was only wearing a towel and send me a bill at the end of this blog. The thing about the dream and the choice at the end was that it wasn’t agonizing because every prospect was pleasant. I didn’t feel pressure to choose friends over family, old acquaintances over new ones. I just couldn’t decide where to park, but I wasn’t panicked by it. I probably have a sense of that now, being in a newish place that I feel no connection to in terms of people. Sure, I have friends and the Doc here, but feel pulls to several other places where friends and family are. I often think if I had my druthers that I’d be able to travel easily and frequently to visit all the people I’ve been promising visits to for years.

The thing about living to dream, or spending too long in your subconscious, is that everything would cave in on itself. Much like the computer geek who forgoes experience in the real world to create a vivid online one becomes isolated and weird, someone giving too much credence to dreams suffers a pretty bleak reality. I’m sure the balance will right itself for me again soon. I’ll be able to work smarter, not harder, get time and opportunity to travel, pitch my children’s show to Stamos, and reconnect in person with all of you. Until then, I’ll see you in my Dreams.  

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