“Wake Up, Gordon.”
I’ve always been a bit of an escapist. I think it’s probably one of the characteristics of my personality that led me to be a writer. Escaping — that’s what writers do, right? Houdini has nothing on us. But the more I write, the more I see that writing isn’t an escape; it’s a tackling of our pain and fear and insecurity head-on, and I haven’t felt strong enough as of late to really tackle much head on. The reasons why are irrelevant to this post; if you know me personally you know them; if you don’t, my telling you will only at best sound maudlin. The point is, I’ve hit a personal wall — a wall of sleep, ha ha — and I’ve needed time to escape it. I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping, more than I should, and I know now it’s time to wake up.
“What if all the world you used to know is an elaborate dream?” – NIN
I had a surprisingly painful series of dreams last night. I won’t begin to try to dissect the cannibal cooking dream — that’s for another blog post, but suffice it to say, Effexor and its generic cousin make for some odd dreaming — but I’d like to talk about the reunion dream.
I dreamt of a reunion of all my old friends from high school — I mean ALL of them, their friends, the people I only knew peripherally, the people I spent every day with, the boys I dated and even the girls I nearly threw down with, and all of us were happy to see each other. All of us were grown, with spouses and kids of our own. These were the people I identified with, I loved like family. And even in the dream, I couldn’t find one person to pal around with longer than a few minutes. Everyone had someone else, and I had no one. I brought no one. I was alone. And in the end, we all went out into the night to walk each other home like we did when we were kids, and I found at the end of it, I stood alone in the dark street.
Those people have all moved on.
So have I.
“Wake Up, Gordon.”
There was someone who once said that things don’t change; people change. Maybe there are fundamental things that people don’t or won’t change, that they can’t change. But people DO change, all the time. That’s the basic quality of life; everything changes. And you can’t stop it. So long as we draw in breaths, we can’t help but be changed by what we experience, and what experiences us. That’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing, I guess. It just is. What you do with it — that’s what’s good or bad. Whether you can accept it — in yourself, in others, for others — that’s something, I think, that determines, to a degree, what kind of friend or loved one you are.
Gordon, you’re asleep….
Sometimes you write and you have a certain plot in mind, and you have these great characters and you stick them into your plot. So far, so good. But see, if you do your job right, you create fully fleshed out characters who you may be able to shepherd through the basic arc of your story, but who may not fit with your strict little narrative. And that’s ok. Good writing is going with the natural flow of both the characters and the situations their fully realized, flesh-n-blood, breathing little selves create whether you like it or not. And learn to like it — trust me, those are some often forgotten hidden gems of writing. That’s because you’ve hit on real life. What a lot of people (lately, a number of people who look daily or weekly to make my life miserable) don’t seem to get is that you can’t control other people’s behavior, no matter how much insecurity or desire may lead you to want to. You can’t pigeonhole people into categories and then be surprised when they work outside your box. You can’t judge them for not following the neat little constructs you want the world to fit. The world is not being held up by your constructs, and so it won’t collapse in the absence of them. You can only try to understand that they are real flesh and blood people with real feelings, with real lives, with personal baggage you can’t begin to understand — or maybe you could, if only you knew, with gifts and goals and dreams and shining, beautiful aspects that blind stubbornness will cause you to miss if you’re not careful. Real people are not archetypes. Real people are not inhuman scapegoat symbols for your hatred or jealousy or pain. Real people just are — good, bad, whatever. And they are always changing, so they may not even be contained in your boxes anymore. And that really is okay.
“Gordon! I need you to wake up, and take a really, *really* good look….”
Along those same lines, I’ve found you can’t hold onto people for who they were or who they could be, if only. You can only accept who they are, and decide whether that is something you want to keep in your life. And how do you decide? I don’t honestly know for sure. I guess you trust your gut. The people holding onto are the ones you can’t let go in your heart. You may not always need/want them to serve the same purpose or fill the same role, but I really believe we are only blessed with so many people worth holding onto no matter what, worth holding onto forever. But you need to see them for who they really, truly are — good, bad, and all.
“You know who I am.”
I’ve been asleep inside myself for a long time. But now I need to wake up. I need to see me for what I am, good, bad, and all, and acknowledge that I’m worth holding onto forever. I am proud of the changes I’ve made this past year, and look forward to continuing to grow intellectually and emotionally in 2012.
We all need to get to that place, I think, or we can never really look at relationships and our place in the world with truly open eyes. There is a part of us that will kill the good in us and when asked why, will answer, “Because she let me, Doc. They always do….” And we can’t let that part be the thing we see when we open our eyes. We can’t let feeling weak and wounded swallow us whole.
“Do it, Gordon.”
I thought many times I had escaped this place. But the place had changed and I hadn’t; I had never left at all.
Not so this time.
I’m standing at the end of a long hallway, far from my beloved lake, far from my beloved stars, but I’m waking up. My Simon doesn’t get to win. I’m leaving this place and its baddarksickcrazy. And I have changed inside my head and inside my heart; I am stronger and tougher.
I may never be who others want me to be, but for the first time, I’m who *I* want to be. And that feels good. Really good.
Better than a dream, in fact.