Tag Archives: Reading

Dreams: Part Two

The English language is a funny thing. There are so many words in our language with dual meaning. My last post was titled “Dreams.” I spoke of “dreams” in terms of long-term, tangible goals. Today, I want to write about actual dreams — as in those bizarre events that happen when you’re asleep.

Or is that just me?

I need to give some background on this post and why it matters to me to write about this subject. I have always had an active imagination. As a child, I was day-dreamy. Blissfully unaware of the world and much of what was happening around me, I constructed a world all my own, and I resided in that world. It’s probably just another sign of my poor coping skills, but until I still exist in a world that is  half-in, half-out.

Part of the reason for my ongoing delusion that everything is not what it seems, is because of my very vivid, very lucid dreams. My dreams are generally pleasant; though often filled with unknown places and unknown people. However, I am usually quite content, even happy. There are many dreams I awake from that I wish I could return to. Sometimes my brain is generous and allows me to revisit places I’ve been before. Mostly, it insists I see new places and encounter new people. I suppose it’s not a bad thing — I crave the sensation of new experiences. I love the challenge of something unknown. I guess my dream brain knows me better than my waking brain. Or at the very least — my dream brain understands what my waking brain doesn’t.

I, rarely, have what are classified as “nightmares,” but when I do, they are terrifying. I think this is because very little scares me (Really. Even with all my anxiety and weirdness I’m rarely fearful). Many things in my dreams awaken my senses. Many things put me on high alert. Very little truly frightens me. When they happen, my nightmares and intense and overwhelming. I wake in a panic and it takes me hours to calm down enough to go back to sleep. My brain is a strange place. While I’m not afraid of much, it knows just what buttons to push to get a reaction. Many of my nightmares involved being trapped in some way — a deep part of me is ferociously independent, and my soul is free. I hate feeling caged. I hate feeling bound. I long for space to stretch my body and my mind.

Lately, though, my strange little brain has upped the ante. After almost 30 years of life as it is in our world, I have accepted that many things about me are peculiar. I have accepted that I am not like and do not think like most people. I still live in pseudo-delusional state between this world and the world of my dreams; which is truly a culmination of many things. Real experiences, books I’ve read, characters I’ve grown to love, movies I’ve seen, friends and faces from many years past. It’s strange what my dreams generate — and often hard to walk away from.

What sparked me to write about this topic is the curious sensation I’ve been experiencing as of late; my dreams now connect with one another. It’s like living an alternative life while I’m asleep. I’m still me — I still look like me, sound like me, am odd like me — yet I exist in a place that seems familiar, yet unknown. While I almost always lucid dream (and no, I don’t try. It just happens — another sign of my peculiarity, I suppose), I can’t say I’ve ever had a conscious experience when I realized my dreams were connected.

That changed last week. I had a nightmare — a creepy one, too, I was on a field trip with my class (I dream of my students often) when a student of mine stumbled on a strange old book. Being the child he is, he opened it. Inside were photographs that I can only describe as — unexplainable. Think of every weird  photo you’ve ever seen, related to paranormal activity or otherwise. Perhaps a trick of the light; perhaps a glitch in the camera; perhaps something beyond our realm of existence. Then, the book started to speak. Not English. Not any language I recognize. It was like when you play a record backward. It sounded demonic. It sounded macabre. It filled my whole head with a deep, deafening roar. I slammed the book shut. I pulled the child away. He said to me, “The book — it said to keep flipping. It told me to keep turning.”

I woke up. I didn’t go back to sleep that night. The next night, I had another dream. Not a nightmare this time. It was pleasant. I was with my husband and some old friends. We were purusing what I can only describe as thrift store. Full of old abandoned odds and ends, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for, so I just took in my surroundings. My husband had something in his hand, and he approached the counter. I walked up behind him. The clerk said to me: “I have a book on hold for you.” I accepted that this was probably the case (even though dream me couldn’t remember putting a book on hold) but I agreed, and out of the case the clerk pulls the same book from my nightmare the night before.

I woke up, and it clicked. The book had been lingering in my dreams for weeks. I hadn’t gotten a good look at it before the nightmare. I remember my dreams and I remember them well. They are hard to forget. Suddenly memories of other dreams flooded my thoughts — I had seen it on a table in a previous adventure, in the backpack of a traveler when I dreamed I was hiking, on a shelf in the library of an old house I once visited. I couldn’t shake it. I still can’t shake it.

As strange a place as my mind can be, I am currently perplexed by this book. My dreams have never tangibly connected in such a manner before. It gives me the strange sensation that I’m living two lives — one here, in the real world — and one there, in my dream world. It’s haunting. Maddening, even. How do I defeat an enemy that isn’t real? How can I begin to decipher what this damn book means? Why does it keep showing up? What does dream me know that waking me needs to see?

I chose to write a post on this topic because in many ways, it helps me process what I’ve seen — asleep or otherwise. But mostly — I wonder if anyone else can relate. Are there others that have interconnected dreams? Others who are at war with themselves?

Once again — I’m left wondering.

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September 11th, Ongoing

I felt compelled to write about September 11th today, being that is the 15th anniversary. Fifteen long years, and I still can’t wrap my brain around this day. Perhaps it’s not meant to be understood, or perhaps I’ve made all the sense of it I can make. Whatever the case, it is, annually, a day for me to reflect on how far humanity has come, or regressed — and how much our world has changed since that day.

Like most others who lived through the horrific event that was September 11th, 2001, I have clear, awful memories of that day. I was in 7th grade band class. As I was traveling from band to my next hour, I remember seeing some of my friends crying in the hallway, saying their brothers, fathers, and uncles would be headed to war — I didn’t understand. What had happened in the last 50 minutes that I missed?

My next hour was math, I sat down and like the rest of my classmates was eager to hear from the adults in our school what was going on. They said they couldn’t tell us. They didn’t know enough. There had been a bombing, they said. The whole country was on high alert — unsure of what would happen next. The rest of the day was business as usual; the adults acted like nothing had happened but word was spreading quick that something big had happened on the East Coast.

I got off the bus and hurried home. My mom was worried, and I could tell she had been crying. She sat me down and told me what happened. I cried. We cried together. We watched the news all night and cried more. Even then, not quite 13, my heart broke for the thousands of victims and their families, friends, and loved ones — whom had just gone to work on another normal September day — never to return home again.

Now, it’s been 15 years and the students I teach weren’t even alive to remember that day. Today, I am grateful — because it’s Sunday, and because I live to see another day filled with the ones I love and cherish. But I’m also grateful that I’m not at school for my students to grill me about the events of today’s past. I know they are simply curious — they’ve heard the story, seen the pictures, and they want to know more. So I always indulge and tell them, even though it breaks my heart every year, and every year I still shed more than a few tears for all the innocent people who lost their lives and lost their loved ones that day. No matter how I explain it, it will never mean to them what it means to me. They will never understand the pain we felt as a nation that day. They will never understand why I cry year after year; they didn’t live it. You can’t understand unless you survived that day.

For me September 11th is a day that will always hold extreme significance in my life. It may sound dramatic to some; and yes, life has continued on and our world has changed tremendously. Much of the change in the United States can be tied back to the events of September 11th, 2001, even fifteen years later. If you’re a big picture thinker like me, perhaps you too, can understand why this day is always heavy on my mind, come it’s somber anniversary. It changed so many things about our nation, our society, and our government. Still, we live on high alert. There isn’t a person today that doesn’t know the word “terrorism.”

Life has gone on, and on; yet annually, September 11th comes and goes, and with it, the healing is ongoing. Fifteen years later, the healing is still ongoing. September 11th, the events, the legacy of this day, will forever be ongoing.

May we never forget.

Dreams

Most people have their biggest dreams as children. When we’re small, faced with the question of what we want to be in life — most answers are ambitious, if unrealistic. Young children have big goals; to be an astronaut, a professional athlete, to be president, or a singer. Yet somewhere along the path between youth and adulthood, we’re faced with the harsh reality that many of us will never achieve those big dreams, for one reason or another. Life gets in the way, so to speak, and we often stop striving toward those things we once so desperately wanted.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted to be happy. And I wanted to do something I enjoyed. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not like most people. As a child, I had realistic dreams — to graduate, go to college, and get a good job, doing something that paid the bills, that would give me a decent quality of life. I never strayed far from that goal. As I got older and neared the end of high school, I was forced to consider why I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to accomplish. Still, I wanted something I could enjoy doing, make a decent living, and be happy. After changing my mind again and again, I decided to become a teacher.

The job itself is an adventure, and I have watched myself become better because of it. I have made friends and learned valuable lessons because of it. But yet — I’m not as happy as I could be, and that weighs heavy on my mind. You could say I am the opposite of the norm. As I have gotten older, and learned more, the bigger my dreams have gotten.

Now, at almost 30 — truly nothing seems impossible. I finally have the confidence, ability, experience, and grit to go for what I want and achieve it. I always tell my students to set achievable goals. Start small — those small goals add up to larger triumphs. I know that as fifth graders, only so much of what I say and what I teach them will stick with them in the long run. Ultimately, they will have to learn for themselves what they want from life.

But me, I think I finally know what I want. And I lack nothing to get it.

Paradox

Do you ever wonder how often you cross the mind of someone else? Do you ever wonder how other people see you? How many dreams you’ve been in? How many alternative lives you lived?

I wonder all the time.

The gift of empathy, they say.

The gift that keeps on giving.

I can’t even handle my own emotions well. I’m a bit of a spitfire. I don’t have much of a filter. I’m prone to be the one to tell you like it is.

So the universe blessed me with empathy.

The ability to feel what others feel.

So here I am — the ultimate paradox. Unable to process my own feelings, yet burdened with all the energies of everyone around me. I’m what you could call an emotional tourist. Prone to ride the highest highs and the lowest lows — depending on the mood of the party.

That “party” is my life.

Lately, I find myself dreaming more and more of old faces, old states of being.

People who once meant the world to me; people who walked away.

Or I walked away from.

My whole life I have been likely to engage in toxic friendships.

I wanted to “fix” the greediness and selfishness of others.

Because that is simply not my nature.

And I can’t imagine treating another human the way some have treated me.

So I awoke thinking,

How often do I cross the mind of those who no longer know me?

How often do they dream of my face?

Do they stop to think of me?

Do they wonder what became of me after we parted ways?

I suppose part of being human is never truly knowing how another sees you.

When it comes down to it, we are born alone.

And we die alone.

We can never know who we were, or who we are, to someone else.

We can never know how significant or insignificant we are in their game of life.

I wonder all the time.

Misfit Mind

The biggest thing I miss about college is writing. If you’re like me and can often better articulate your thoughts on paper, rather than in conversation, there is something quietly fulfilling about the process. Having your thoughts read — but only the ones you want read. See, I believe reading words has more impact than speaking them. Speaking is temporary. People will always forget what you said. They will not forget what you wrote.

Writing is a beautiful thing because printed words can be revisited time and time again. When you write — a part of you is infinite. You are unforgettable. Your voice lives on, even after your body has stopped. That’s why I don’t understand people who say they don’t like to write. What a wasted talent. Inevitably — a wasted life.

Writing is the purest form of self-expression. It is truly organic. No two authors write exactly the same, nor should they strive to. I try to teach my students that the most important thing about writing isn’t what you say, but how you say it. Your style. Your voice. Each is unique, individual. It gives us beautiful diversity in literature.

That’s why I don’t understand people who don’t like to read. Literature comes in so many forms — poems, plays, stories, songs, novels — and in so many topics; there must be something that appeals to you. What better way to learn, than to read. Through reading we learn about ourselves, and we learn about our world — by escaping to a world that is not our own. I believe this is what makes certain stories timeless.

Literature is the expression of the human experience. Whether it be a tale true to life or a story of magic spells and far-off places – we invariably find characters we relate to, which teaches us about ourselves and the world we are forced to exist in. As a 27-year-old misfit I have a laundry list of fictional friends, and have had dozens of fictional heartbreaks. When you read, those character’s experiences become your own. Their triumphs become your triumphs. Their struggles become your struggles. If you’re like me, reading bombards you with emotions you’re forced to deal with; things you perhaps wouldn’t handle well in your real life. Maybe I’ve just got terrible coping skills, but reading allows me to be a better person in real life. It allows me to understand others with more empathy. It gives me patience and perseverance when life is heavy. Perhaps most importantly — it gives me a safe place to escape.

Someday, I’d love to offer that same reprieve to a strange mind like mine. All I need is a brilliant idea.