Hours ago, I had a dream in which a family of vacationers assumed my house was the VRBO they’d rented. In the middle of a sunny school day, they started hauling in bags and cases of orange juice concentrate and asking where the beach was (not anywhere near this house). And they were annoying as hell.
If this was an anxiety dream–I’m not an anxious person–at least it was rather benign. My OB/GYN wife recently dreamed that, during a delivery, the baby’s head popped off. She had to put it back on–quickly–with the medical equivalent of duct tape.
My dreams used to take me to very dark places. Munched by big sharks (numerous times), thrown off a cliff, shot (for a bewildering number of reasons, one of them logical), munched by giant spiders (before I read “It” or “The Two Towers”), set on fire, blown up, crushed, minced or sometimes just left in a setting with Darkness from Ridley Scott’s “Legend” film. Fear of the dark? For years, I was terrified of falling asleep. My brain was not my friend.
The one consistency through all these dreams (and as many as I can remember) is the issue of powerlessness. It’s a theme that pervades my books: Heroes (or other characters) are thrust into situations they have little ability to control. That’s a fun, safe trajectory for story-telling. Greed tales would lean toward parables, and veins of apathy or bigotry would be exceptionally difficult for a man who can’t truly understand either. (For capturing the GOP in novel form, I wouldn’t be the right guy.)
In my dreams, I’ve realized, I’m often not me. There’s usually a moral component–I feel bad, or I want to act in an ethical way–but I don’t act. I watch. As if my inner self is really just a giant chicken. ‘Hey, look at that. That’s kind of awful. No, don’t come my way!’
Or maybe my dreams are a kind of reminder, a guide to what what I should or shouldn’t do. My job is to act, to defy that inner pathetic weakling.
My wife is, of course, an extremely careful and thoughtful provider. I still don’t go too deep in the ocean (guilty) and I wouldn’t enter a nightmare-worthy cabin in the woods. If others are in peril (especially kids) I’d know to get them to safety, first.
And I’m sure, if a bunch of mistaken vacationers tried to waltz in here with their attendant crap and attitudes, I’d raise my voice pretty damned loud.
As the kids remind me, my inner ogre is always standing by.