Recently, my work pace has picked up, my coffee intake has increased, my weight has gone down, and my dreams have slammed on the brakes.
I don’t mean dreams like the perfect house or hanging out with Adele or having Johnny Depp beg me for a date. I mean literal dreaming.
When I am living my story, I have psychedelic dreams that should be illustrated by Peter Max:
Here’s one dream I had during a time of intense writing:
I’m in a dark dinner theater preparing to go on stage as the narrator (this is weird, since I can’t stand dinner theaters – if I’m going somewhere to eat, I don’t want the pressure of having to watch a badly acted Tennessee Williams play).
I realize at the last minute that I can’t find my black stiletto heels (which is also weird since my definition of heels are my Nike Shocks). Suddenly, Theresa Caputo of Long Island Medium fame shows up and says she has the very shoes I need, so we get in her SAAB and drive out to horse country. We are yucking it up and having a good time together. As we approach the house Larry (her husband) greets us at the front door, waving the black stilettos with vigor.
Teresa then starts adjusting her make-up, which I realize is making us late for the play, so I try to call in sick.
I didn’t try to analyze the dream, since that could take me down a rabbit hole from which I might never again emerge. But I do find it fascinating that when I’m writing, my dreams skip down the yellow brick road with me. But when I’m busy with tasks that mean little to me, my dreams enter the poppy field and fall asleep.
Remember when story time was an expectation?
In first grade I couldn’t wait for my teacher, Mrs. Little, to ask us to leave our desks and gather around her on the floor. She would sit in a wooden chair and pull out an awesome book like “Stuart Little,” which made me wonder if she was related to the mouse. My imagination allowed that thought. My busy adult would tell me that I wasn’t the brightest bulb on the first grade Christmas tree.
As Mrs. Little read, I would get lost in the story. For a few moments, I could leave my first grade hassles behind me. Hassles like Sandy, the girl who cheated at foursquare. Or the fact that everyone in class could smell my lunch since my dad, substituting for mom, had made it that morning and just dumped tuna on bread without draining the oil.
At the age of six, I could believe in a mouse who rolled a dime to the bus and slept in a matchbox. Which meant I could believe in things unseen. Which meant I could actually envision things outside of that matchbox.
As my work schedule has filled and my pace has increased. . .
My creativity has become a lazy teenager who refuses to get off the couch. My quiet times in front of my computer have been replaced by meetings and chaotic, last minute requests for information.
Every time my mind wanders away to dream a little dream, my cell phone rings, or a buzzer announces another project to be completed.
And I do like being busy. But now, in my fifties, I’ve realized that busy-ness can hold the imagination hostage. I can just see a project planner holding a gun to my imagination saying, “Make these meetings or your imagination gets it.” So I attend all the meetings, and take care of the tasks, and my imagination gets it anyway.
I had another dream. . .
I was at a conference room table, being asked about a report which I had forgotten to bring with me. The guy heading up the meeting sat there quietly. He was tall with curly hair, and looked like Vince Vaughan’s younger brother. He looked at me and said, “Donna, what do you want?”
I stumbled around, telling him about the needs of my team. “No, Donna,” he replied. “I want to know about YOU. What do you want?”
I couldn’t answer him, because I couldn’t think beyond my project plan. I didn’t know what I wanted. I had too many things to do.
I’m still busy. And, when I’m not busy, I’m worried about it. But I’m trying to take time to read more creative novels, to believe in things felt but not seen, and to Peter Max-out my creativity.
Because imagination isn’t some nebulous state of non-being; instead, it reminds us of who we were before we got so darned busy.
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