Dreams. Those confounding sleep machinations of the mind. Ones that invoke fears and those that bring tears, you know the ones. What do they mean? Why can’t I read in my dreams? Why is my nightmare dream always about running out of food at work? All I can say, that often after having been awoken by my alarm playing Bach’s Cello Suite No 1, I am left wondering what, if anything, it all meant.
Every once in awhile I will have the most vivid of dreams from the night prior. Once I woke with tears in my eyes because an old high school friend had died; this had disturbed me so much that I went on a quest to find him. And in the time before Google and anything remotely internet search like, I found him the old fashioned way and we reconnected a bit over the phone. This led to a mini reunion of sorts with me flying back to Toronto for a get together of high school chums for an afternoon of “Glory Days” reminiscing. Another time, the most vivid of conversations with someone that I was very close to, again back in high school; I searched her out and we had a phone chat that was both pleasant and promising. That the promise fell short is a footnote in my history, I know I tried. You see, I don’t know if dreams are pre-cursors to anything or simply our minds fucking with us, so when something that vivid comes up I tend to act on it in some way.
Which leaves me with a bit of a conundrum from last night. I had two dreams that kind of stand out from the many that I seemed to have had. In one, Lee Majors, of the Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors, was texting me to let me know that he was going to work for my manuscript to be pushed forward to production, because he thought it had potential. I knew, in my dream, that I had sent him some work and I was quite excited at the prospect. Not sure if that means I should drop everything and start working as a writer or that if I should get a gerbil as a pet. Toss up, who really knows what dreams mean.
The second dream was one of those very vivid dreams though. In it I was spending an evening with Richard Schiff, the actor that played Toby Ziegler in The West Wing. Luckily I was playing the part of a fawning fan that didn’t scare the crap out of him and we ended up moving through landscapes that ranged from his ramshackle study, strewn with books and manuscripts, to a dodgy looking bar sipping whiskey at a Formica table with those crappy black and steel cheap chairs we’ve all sat in at least once. So vivid was this dream that I woke wondering when we had actually done this. Of course I never met the man, but I felt the character he played, written by Aaron Sorkin, would be OK with me as a temporary drinking buddy for a little while. So, in the dream at least, despite my over staying my welcome, we had quite the time together.
We replayed and delved into scenes from The West Wing that I thought were worthy of his own ascension into the upper echelons of acting royalty. Knowing full well that the words he spoke were those of Sorkin, we none the less explored his deliverance of them and how he made them his own. Credit to both of them for speaking a truth that is, too often, hard to hear. His character was the moral superiority complex to Jed Bartlett’s better wishes for himself; where Bartlett would look for common ground in the middle, a true politician, while Toby tried to push everyone to his perception of a higher place of moral purity. I loved his character as much as anything on that show, I am unabashedly a West Wing nerd and, in my dream at least, was not afraid to lean right into my nerdiness.
I don’t know what that part of the dream meant anymore then what I knew others parts meant, but it seemed to set the stage for subsequent scenes running through my addled mind during my slumber. We found ourselves driving the streets, through dilapidated commercial areas and rundown housing complexes, passing by the burnt out remains of a once vibrant downtown core and finally into the suburban mundanities, where we found our bar in a non-descript strip mall. Not the rich dark oak lined walls of an Irish pub, but the aforementioned Formica laded version of hell. At least the whiskey was good. And the conversation excellent.
We spoke of lofty goals and the higher ground of what the world owes to itself. At this point I don’t know if he was Toby or simply Richard, but there was such clarity in the sentiment we were expressing that suddenly it all made sense. The world and my path was clear. Unfortunately, that last part slipped away from my memory as I woke up. Damn it!!! So in the end I am left wondering if I am once again gazing upon an abyss of uncertainty in what I am here to do or choosing between the less uglier of the two gerbils.
Who the hell knows what it is all about, but what I do find myself thinking about is writing. Writing this piece. Writing about other things that have been kicking around upstairs for a little while. Also, about reading. I think I may have broken out of my funk around reading. I used to read a lot but over the past number of years I have been sporadic at best when it came to cracking an actual book. It bothered me but I didn’t know what to do about it as the desire simply wasn’t there. I suppose I had other things on my mind, but it feels like my book purgatory is coming to an end. Currently I am reading Barak Obama’s book A Promised Land. I just re-read Mario Puzo’s The Sicilian and before that Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. On deck I have The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, so maybe my readers block is fading. Goody.
So, what is this post about? Reading and writing I suppose. Not my normal new year proclamations around reflection and hope. Not that these have gone away in any way, quite the contrary in fact, as we need even more so a reaffirmation about what matters in our lives and what we should be cherishing. Simply that I had a dream last night and I decided this was the place to explore that thread a little more. To that end I think I will be revisiting a few half written stories I have hidden away to see if I have anything worthy enough to spruce up and enter the CBC writing contest. Maybe it’s time.
Happy New Year to all you beautiful people.