Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dreams, Take One



The roads are all closed because of snow, but apparently what’s snow to the locals is no big deal to me. I am at a crossroads and not sure which way to turn. I am looking for the highway. I stop and ask a dream guide. To the left is a clear shot, bright and paved, easy driving. To the right, a steep incline, dark, and confusing. She suggests I turn right, take the road less traveled. Robert Frost, why the need to dominate my dream? Why the need to dominate NOW? I’m like you’re kidding, right? No way am I going to make that. She insists. I do, in fact, make it. I make it so much that I slightly miss my turn. I backtrack a bit and take the tiny road she spoke of that is more a path than a road. Perhaps it is a driveway, perhaps an alley. I am not really certain. Whatever it is, Dream Guide knows her stuff. From here, I have a straight shot to the highway. I have a full tank of gas, the wind at my back, and nothing but beautiful skies and great tunes to see me through.

I am big on dreams. I know there is meaning behind this nighttime madness of mine. This is not simply a rehashing of the day’s events. The rehashing dream came prior. I recognized it from the cast of characters, the student from that morning’s lecture, the waitress who earlier served my falafel, the extra large man in the red velour sweat suit who was exiting the bookstore at the same point that I was entering. It was exciting, this rehashing dream, but uneventful with very bad acting and too little plot. No, the highway dream was of some significant meaning in my life, a lesson. I knew this. And I was determined to pay attention in hopes of scoring high on this particular life exam.

I was determined because I have been struggling awhile now with a situation that I cannot share. I have been struggling and am in need of direction.

When one spends her life breaking a cycle, overcoming obstacles, and blazing a trail, which I have, one does not do that by simply sitting back and waiting for life to happen. She wakes every day with determination on her face, MAKES opportunity while everyone around her is waiting for it, and crafts her life story much as the writer pens a bestseller. She grabs life by the balls and says, “Listen here, buddy. We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. But we definitely are, by God, going to do it.” This approach to life makes a girl strong, sees her through things others would find unbearable, gives her an awareness of what she is capable, and blesses her with an appreciation of all that she has. The problem with this approach, however, is that it makes her feel as if she is God.

It is a seductive feeling, this writing one’s own story. I forget sometimes that I am not the one in charge, that there is a greater force at work, a greater force who is preparing my path, overseeing the script. I am not, as I have imagined, the author of this piece, but rather the one who was chosen to play the starring role. To this point, might I say, I have played that role well. Lately, however, I have turned into the needy, attention begging leading lady that everyone loves to hate. I am spending my time ordering the Universe, telling God what God will do, putting my needs above those of others, and doing all of this with a dramatic flare worthy of an award winning performance.

Relax. Let’s just see how the script plays out. A friend suggested this the other day during one of my sniveling fits. Are you kidding me? Just sit back? Just sit back and let LIFE come to ME?! I have to admit, though, it’s an appealing thought. It definitely would be easier than the approach I’ve taken to now. And Dream Guide seems more than willing to show me the way. I may just have to go for this. It will definitely be a challenge. I may just concede and see what happens. Excuse me, Universe. Could you fetch me some popcorn? I have a drama to watch.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Life as a Novel.........or, When I Die



I am a big fan of flipping to the back of the book after reading those first few paragraphs just to see how the story ends. Let me do that for you now. It ends. This is what we never believe about life. We live as if the book goes on forever. As readers, though, we all know there is that one day when we close the pages, take a heavy look around, and mourn the loss of a really good story.

This is what I want you to know about MY story.

As the protagonist of this tale, I have enjoyed my share of triumphs, trials, and tears. One never knows in that first chapter which direction the pages will take. In the beginning, there is a good degree of possibility and potential for plot. Yet, there is a formula inherent to the writing that any good author must follow. There must be good guys and bad guys. There must be struggle, something which to overcome. There must be a climax, a point at which the reader feels she can hardly stand any more, feels she wants to reach inside that book and relieve her favorite characters of their distress, when she wants to make it all turn out the way SHE wants it to turn out. And yet, the story must continue in the way that it does. It must. And it will.

As for settings, I have seen many great lands. I have seen mountains and beaches and wide open spaces. I have watched the sun set over vast waters and watched it rise over others. I have watched the stars. Many times I have watched the stars. I have seen wealth enough to satisfy my needs and to help me satisfy the needs of others. I have also felt the burning sting of a cold home, an empty cupboard, a degrading stare. I have known cities and country and classic suburban sprawl. But you should know that I am not here to discuss setting. Neither am I here to discuss plot. I am here to discuss you. I am here to discuss your part in this story of mine, the part that you have played either knowingly or not.

Some of you have played major roles. Some just stepped in for a scene or two. Know that I am thankful for whatever part you played. To those of you who have served as mentors, have served to grow me in some way or another, to build me up, to educate, guide, or inform, thank you. Imagining this story without you is unbearable, an ending I never wish to entertain. You have strengthened me in ways you cannot imagine, reinforced my soul in ways I may have never shared. To those of you who served as peers in that process of growth, know that you have been as much a teacher as the instructors themselves. I have learned from you what I could not get alone. I have enjoyed the company and hope that, in turn, I have contributed in part to your own happy ending, to your own character development and strength of plot. To those of you who served as the antagonists of this story, those against whom I had to contend, thank you also. Thank you for building my courage, my grit, my determination. Thank you for not making this road an easy one, because we all know that easy never makes for a very good read. You have added color and depth to this story that otherwise would have been lacking. You have shown me what I am capable of, taught me critical lessons I would not have chosen to learn on my own. You were the bad guys on page, yes, but bad guys I grew to like for the good that you brought into my life. To those who broke my heart in one way or another, I cannot thank you deeply enough. Although that heart at times felt ripped in two, the pain more than I felt I could ever bear, I would never want to imagine my story without you in it. I am glad for the time we shared. I am glad for the smiles, for the love, for the chapter that is yours. Sometimes the deepest sorrows come from the greatest joys. Just know that I would never edit you out of this story. I would never rewrite your page. To those of you who filled my heart, you have no idea how glad I am that you decided to join me on this journey. It’s funny how physically small the heart really is and, yet, how very much it holds. Because of you, this heart of mine held more than you can ever know. You built me up, picked me up, encouraged, supported, and guided. You made me smile. You made me laugh. My heart was full. YOU did that. YOU did it. Thank you for that. To each of you who joined me in this story, you each have played your part and, if I might, I would just like to say that you have done a damn good job of it.

I know that now this story must end. It is time. So let us together close the pages, collectively take that heavy look around, and, as one, mourn the loss of one hell of a great read.