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(Please, don’t let my) Dreams Come True!

Edward Burne

 “Sleeping Beauty” by Edward Burne-Jones1871

Blog Post #49

I have cuckoo dreams. My nighttime line-up makes Monty Python look like the archetype of sanity and normalcy.

I write down many of my nighttime dreams for two reasons:

  1. I have been told there is hidden meaning in the symbolic nature of my dreams
  2. Such silliness is good for a laugh

My son-in-law, Erik, is my “Dream Interpreter Extraordinaire.” He is quite expert at recognizing and deciphering what he says are obvious metaphorical representations of my psyche. I often approach him with some of my dreams over Sunday dinner, and am always surprised at the accuracy of his interpretations, because they really do ring true with the things I have been feeling—the stresses and issues I have been dealing with. And perhaps that is the point of my dreams, but that doesn’t make them any less weird.

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In my youthful days, the dreams I most remember were recurring dreams associated with illness. When a headache or fever came on, so did one of the recurring nightmarish dreams.

But my dreams took a marked turn for the comedic worse after I married and began to have children. My first memorable episode involved a transparent stomach with bicycle handles sticking out of it. (And the dreams only got worse.)

Here are summaries of a few others:

In my dreams….

… I was alone on a beach, arms outstretched, with an alligator clamped down on the fingers of each of my hands, their bodies dangling down to my sides.

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… I was swinging by my heels from the rigging on the mast of a yacht (and enjoying it).

… I was Elspeth, the fairy Godmother of all.

Elspeth

… I was standing in the middle of a box-shaped room that had no windows or doors, but that was full of floating peas. I didn’t dare move or the peas would go up my sleeves, or in my shoes, or into my nose, or in my mouth….

Dreams2

… I was playing a small role as a maid in a play in which I, first, picked up a pile of stapled receipts that Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet were motioning for me to take offstage, next I flew with flair down a zip cord glider, then, (as inconspicuously as possible), I picked up bushels of tiny lemons that had rolled onto the stage.

… I was riding a brake-less bicycle down a steep hill in San Francisco, and was shocked to see—independently hanging in the center of a hole in the sky—the roots and part of the trunk of a gargantuan tree (the top of which rose through the clouds out of view).

Tree in the Sky dream

A sketch made in the middle of the night to remember the bizarre dream of a tree emerging through a hole in the sky

… I was trying to get off a modern, streamlined, ship, fatefully named “The Titanic.”

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One of my dreams even had a commercial break!  The commercial was of a cartoonish female skunk paddling the leaf/nut boat she was sitting in. The skunk’s name, I knew, was “Sally Rushkin.” I was certain she was a character from 1950s TV, and I was delighted to see her appear on the TV screen of my dream. I awoke from the dream during the middle of the night, and got up to draw a picture of Sally Rushkin, so I could look her up in the morning. I was completely surprised to discover there was no such character as Sally Rushkin in existence!

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Sally Rushkin  —  middle-of-the-night sketch 

These are just a few of the volumes of dreams I remember having dreamed over my lifetime. I often wonder about those I’ve forgotten. I suspect that, in this case, forgetting was a good thing.

It’s interesting that we live in an era when the stuff “dreams” are made of—princesses, superheroes, pirates, magical creatures, aliens, futuristic space, shires, ball-parks in corn fields, and make-believe worlds that children and adults alike get lost in are present in all but every waking hour of our lives. Images from these kinds of dreams are worn on costumes, T-shirts, tennis shoes, and backpacks, and appear in a wide variety of merchandise. You can’t escape this stuff—from cereal boxes to phone cases, from nightgowns to music lyrics, at theme parks, in films, and on the pages of storybooks—people, places and things attributed to the fantastic world of dreams are everywhere.

The phrase “dreams come true” has become commonplace, characterized as a happy idea, filled with immeasurable promise of fairy dust, adventure, and the Force.

Capture

But when I look at MY dreams, I am struck by the contradiction. I don’t want my dreams to come true. Honestly, I don’t! It’s enough to experience such surreal, terrifying, silly, nonsensical, weird, abstract foolishness while sleeping at night! So often, it’s a blessing and a relief to wake up before the dream (or sometimes, nightmare) ends. If, in fact, my dreams are a metaphorical representation of some truth about my life that my subconscious mind is trying to let go of, to solve, or to find some resolution for, then I certainly don’t want to face those kinds of issues in such bizarre ways during my waking hours, too!

In fact, I love, yes, LOVE, the stable, predictable, routine of my life. I love the absolute assurance that zombies will not arise in apocalyptic rebellion, that I won’t awake to find spacecraft the size of Rhode Island hovering in the sky over my house, that flying dragons aren’t going to torch our neighborhood, that the stairs I climb aren’t going to, suddenly, move or change direction of their own accord, and that there aren’t ogres, orcs or other horrible demons lurking in our National Parks, or skirting the freeways we frequently travel! Surely, in real life, mankind has already assumed the roles, or created the equal, to most of these nightmares. I don’t wish for my cuckoo dreams to come true, and add to the craziness, and for that matter, I don’t wish for anyone else’s dreams (or nightmares) either!

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I have loved the dream of a dream as much as anyone! I have wished on stars, and at wishing wells. I have hoped for fairy tale endings, and for magical moments in my life. I will always have a tender spot in my heart for the idea of magic and fairy tales. But I prefer they remain in the “dream world” of storybooks and imagination, and not become part of my reality.

We should take great care in what we wish for, because sometimes what we wish for we get.

As I was contemplating my kooky dreams this morning, I felt immense gratitude for true “magic,” which is not nearly as enchantingly magical in imagination as it is in real life.

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My newest granddaughter. A sweet miracle.

My tiny, new granddaughter is a miracle of creation. Wondering about the sphere she left behind to come to earth, the intricate beauty of her tiny little fingers and toes, her beating heart, downy soft skin, the scent of newness in the small of her neck, her spirit awakening to earth life and the immediate and unconditional love of family—are these not magical?

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My granddaughter and her newborn son. Heaven on earth.

Walking a shady wooded area with my eldest daughter, the sunshine beating down from high in the heavens, warming our hearts and our shoulders from the chill in the air, birds dipping and soaring overhead, the bright blue blossoms off the side of the path that had sprung into existence, bringing us joy—are these not wonders and mysteries?

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Walking a peaceful trail at Oak Glen with my daughter, Thalia

The laughter of children, the hugs and greatness of their love, the joy beaming from their faces, the potential brimming in their souls—are these not dreams that have come true, or are worthy of coming true?

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Our son, Jesse, and his twin daughters.  Unbounded Joy!

Even though I love Disney movies, when I think about the lyrics from Disney’s original animated movie “Cinderella”…

“A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep…”

…I hope with all my heart that those words will never be true of the vast majority of my nighttime dreams!

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“Dreamers” by Albert Joseph Moore

The hopes, dreams, and aspirations of my waking, daylight hours are much more charming, enduring, worthwhile, real, and hopeful than anything I’ve experienced in my sleep. Born of beauty, knowledge, joy, and a clear vision of life, and brightened by the promise of Eternal Truths and Saving Grace, my “dreams” for the future and beyond subdue and trample those less worthily conjured by a reckless imagination at night.

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Baby Blue Eyes – the delightful  blossoms we spied just off our path

I choose to place my hope and dreams in promises such as this:

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

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End Piece

©April 7, 2017

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear friends, for reading.

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"Pretending"

Blog Post #22
Harry Potter in his Invisibility Cloak


Have you ever tried to pretend you’re not there?  I have.  It’s a ridiculous thing to do. (Although would-be “flies on the wall,” like me, understand why people do this.)

 

If you aren’t sure of my meaning, perhaps one of the following scenarios illustrating how people sometimes pretend invisibility will trigger understanding:

  • You’re in a classroom setting, and the teacher is staring down students, asking for an answer. You lower your eyes, avoiding eye contact, thereby achieving invisibility. 

  • You’re visiting the home of an acquaintance when a bickering match erupts between the person you are visiting and another family member. You slink toward the door attempting to excuse yourself, but the elephant in the room is blocking your path. You pretend you are part of the wall—not there—until you can make your escape.

 

  • You’re not feeling very sociable while walking down the street. Dog walkers and joggers pass by, but you keep your head down. No eye contact makes you invisible.
Henry Holiday “Dante and Beatrice” 

(notice how Beatrice carefully averts her eyes)

  • You spot a solicitor sitting at a table outside Wal-mart. Rather than walk the direct route to the entrance, you make a huge circuit through the parking lot entering the store behind the solicitor’s table. When you exit, you wait until someone else is exiting and walk behind them so they effectively block you from the view of the solicitor, or, if a blocker is unavailable, you focus your gaze in the distance, planting an expression of intense distraction and extreme urgency on you face, making you, essentially, invisible.

 

 

Young children are quite adept at pretending they’re invisible. When our oldest child was just a toddler, we liked to play Hide-and-Seek with her. This game revealed how superfluous an appendage the rest of her body was to her head since if her head was covered, she was—in her mind—hidden, or rather, invisible. We’d tiptoe into her hiding place to find her entire body from the neck down sticking out from under the hem of curtains, or from under a desk, or from under the bed. I suppose we fed the misleading notion that she was invisible by standing toe-to-toe with her and calling out, “Where is she?” and “I can’t find her anywhere!”


Just as our young daughter thought she was invisible when her head was hidden, so adults seem to have narrowed the range of their invisibility from their heads down to just their eyes. This is evidenced by the illusion the lack of eye contact creates as illustrated in the four examples previously given.

There are occasions when it is impossible to achieve your own sense of invisibility, no matter what you do. For example, if you’ve ever been in the presence of an incessant talker (whom we’ll call “Chatterbox”), there is no escaping his or her vision. Any attempt you make at invisibility is immediately thwarted by Chatterbox’s complete inability to “see” you as another person, or personality, with thoughts and ideas of your own, thus, in a sense, making you invisible.  This may sound contradictory, but it really isn’t. Your attempts to respectfully release yourself from a prolonged discourse by breaking eye contact, appearing distant, uninterested, or downright bored have no effect. Even if you begin walking away, Chatterbox will follow you, never pausing to catch breath. As you get in your car, and start the engine, Chatterbox is not deterred, but walks into the busy street to—not see you off—but talk you off and on your way. Essentially, Chatterbox is the only “visible” person in the world; everyone else is invisible, existing only as a target toward which Chatterbox effusively flings his or her superfluous arsenal of words. (For the record, I know some Chatterboxes and I really like them–they are my friends. But their speech can be overwhelming at times.)

 

 

There were times when I didn’t need to pretend invisibility because, in certain situations, I was, essentially, already invisible. As a teenager, I became well acquainted with this type of invisibility. In classrooms where only “teacher’s pets” or troublemakers were visible, or in settings in which I was the quiet introvert among a group of popular social butterflies, the invisibility issue was driven home in multiple ways. 


But you must not assume this type of invisibility was necessarily unwelcome–at least to me. Quiet personalities can enjoy a certain measure of invisibility, provided they have close friends and family to whom they are visible in positive and worthwhile ways.

 

Harry Potter sneaking about in his invisibility cloak

 One of the motivations for my own pretended invisibility wasn’t so I could sneak about in a secret cloak like Harry Potter, spying on people. Rather, it was to enjoy conversation and interaction without the strain of interacting, which is often wearying, or difficult for more reserved personalities.

 

The idea of being a fly on the wall is terribly appealing to people like me.  It isn’t so I might listen to idle gossip, or be privy to secrets not meant for my ears (types of interaction I try to avoid). No, it’s not that at all. It’s simply because I am clumsy at conversation. It can be stressful and tiring to interact with large groups—draining, in fact. Still, I’ve practiced conversing for years and years, partly out of necessity, and partly because I really do love people, and enjoy getting to know them. To be a true participant in a conversation is more rewarding if both people are present. The truth is, if you put someone like me one-on-one with someone, I have no trouble making conversation. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy delving headlong into a deep and heartfelt exchange. It’s group interaction that I shy away from. I haven’t completed my study of being a good conversationalist, but even with all my efforts, I still find myself wishing to shrink into invisibility at times.

 


 There are occasions where attempting invisibility is useful in sharing joy with others in an anonymous fashion. Our family often employed the Ding-Dong-Ditch method to drop-off goodies to friends. In this method, the driver sits in the darkened, idling car a short distance away, while runners secretly place goodies on the front door step of the homes of friends and neighbors, ring the doorbell, and run back to the car without detection. We’d done this as a family activity so many times over the years, we were quite expert. However, one particular time didn’t follow the typical pattern of success. I was driving our old 1982 yellow Suburban (which is roughly the size of a school bus). The kids got out of the car to Ding-Dong-Ditch the goodies while I quickly pulled around the corner to hide our car in an inconspicuous spot—behind a small parkway tree. It was like trying to hide the Goodyear Blimp behind a toothpick. By the time the kids ran back to the car, the folks receiving the goodies were out of their house and flagging us down! We tried to pretend we were invisible, but there was no fooling them! Anyone remotely acquainted with us could spot that yellow car from dizzying distances. If you ever want to remain incognito, be sure not to drive a conspicuous yellow Suburban. (Either that, or find an airplane hangar to hide behind.)

1982 Yellow Suburban like the one we had. 

The desire to be invisible, in this instance, was a worthy one. Doing good—to “let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” (Matthew 6:3)—is a positive occupation. There are, however, attempts at invisibility that are not as admirable.

For example, there was the time my daughter and I had spent a long day working in the heat, and ended the day sweaty, grimy, stinky, and hungry. Normally, I wouldn’t have ventured into a public place on such a day, but we were both famished and fatigued. We stopped at a café to grab a quick bite to eat. Standing in line to order, in a state of exhausted oblivion, I didn’t notice an old acquaintance enter. As we waited to place our order, I casually glanced at the line of people forming behind me and saw the old “friend.” (I put friend in quotation marks because, for all I know, we may possibly no longer be friends. There’s no explaining to someone that you had pretended you weren’t there.) That’s right. I was the invisible woman. The sweaty, stinky, grimy me did not, at that moment, exist. In a sense, it was my version of Hide-and-Seek all over again. If I don’t acknowledge my existence in circumstances such as this, perhaps no one else will. Faulty reasoning, but there you have it. (The fact that the friend, having seen me, did not acknowledge me either made it much easier to rationalize that I was invisible.)

 

You must not assume that because my behavior was beyond ridiculous that I wasn’t aware of just how foolish it was. Nor must you assume that I was Okay with my behavior. I wasn’t. I was, in fact, ashamed of myself. Such behavior was inexcusable. Ludicrous. Pretending invisibility did not make me invisible.  If truth were told, it made me completely transparent. Certainly, anyone in that café could see me plainly. The only one I fooled was myself—thinking I could fake “invisibility” to protect my vanity—without truly protecting it, having obviously been seen. 

I have since repented of this foolish flaw in my nature, and my unfriendly behavior. There is a price to pay for vanity—wanting to be seen as a “put together person” (or at least as a non-stinky person!).  Isn’t it ironic that “wanting to be seen as” (or not to be seen at all), more than likely exposed me as oblivious, unfriendly, vain, and anything but “put together.” So sad, but so true.   

 

My mother used to repeat an old saying, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” (Sir Walter Scott). I don’t think of myself as being a deceptive person. Nor do I intentionally “practice to deceive.”  Deception is contrary to my fundamental beliefs, and is repugnant to me in every way. The day and circumstances just mentioned caught me completely off guard. I strive diligently to be honest. I rejoice in honesty, in light, in truth, and in simplicity. However, —given my beliefs—the irony of the whole charade was not lost on me.  I swallowed a giant café-sized slice of “humble pie” after pondering the true nature of my pretended invisibility.


Dear Readers, now that I have exposed myself to judgment and possibly to ridicule, let me assure you that it has become one of my goals to rid my life of the pretense of invisibility. To rid my life entirely of pretense would be even better. I shudder to think I have been, at any time, guilty of pretending invisibility, but I must admit, I have been guilty.

To pretend is to be fake.  In reflecting on this topic, the word hypocrisy reared its ugly head.

hy·poc·ri·sy
həˈpäkrəsē/
noun: hypocrisy
 
Middle English: from Old French ypocrisie, via ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek hupokrisis ‘acting of a theatrical part,’ from hupokrinesthai ‘play a part, pretend 


Hypocrisy is, essentially, to pretend. What greater hypocrisy is there than to pretend invisibility? To pretend invisibility is to deny existence, which reeks with ingratitude to God, The Giver of Life. As His child–His daughter–there is never a time when pretending invisibility in any uncharitable sense is appropriate or desirable.

I so admire people who are straightforward, respectful, forthright, interesting, interested and real—people who put you at ease and make you want to be visible because you feel trust and security in their presence. I hope to be that way, too—to be plain, honest, interested, respectful, present, and kind in all aspects of life—in other words, to be

visibly real.

 

Being “visibly real,” (according to my definition), has, by its selfless nature, the capacity of making you the best kind of “invisible” you can be as you “lose yourself” in the service of others. 

 

 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

 

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for reading.

© January 24, 2015