Sunday, May 13, 2012

Unwrapping The Present

When I was sixteen I had a dream. I dreamt that I was reading the most beautiful poem I had ever seen. It was several pages long and I knew as I was reading it that it was a miraculous poem….the best poem anyone had ever written. When I woke up I tried to remember the dream and remember as much of the poem as I could but every line of the poem evaporated from my memory as soon as I awoke. Everything was left behind in the dream.

I was so excited. I had found what God wanted me to do. He gave me a sign and I was going to spend the rest of my life being a writer. I knew that because I had dreamt this “perfect” poem…somewhere inside of my brain was the “perfect” poem and I was meant to share that with the rest of the world.

So I started writing anything I could: sonnets, free verse, prose, scripts….anything and everything. I was consumed with writing and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my new “calling”. I never did figure it out.

I tried majoring in English in college but didn’t really find it interesting. I wrote lots of great poetry that I only let a few people read because I was insecure. I wrote a novel when I was 29 because I had always said I wanted to write a novel before I was 30 but never bothered to have it published. I lived most of my life believing that I had been duped by my dream….my “calling”. Obviously, it was just a dream.

I have spent the last ten years running an art gallery with Brennis. One of the most rewarding parts about the gallery is being able to help people make their dreams come true. An artist works for hours, weeks, months on a canvas and the dream of being able to see it hanging in a gallery for others to see is a huge dream for any artist. I get to play a small part in that process and I always find it a powerful and rewarding feeling. So I had resigned myself to the idea that maybe that was what I get in this life: I get to do that for people….which is great, really but why did I feel so empty and, quite honestly, so guilty?

I find I ordinarily write when there is something that my brain cannot process with rational thought and I have to try to piece it together in poetry or prose until it starts to make sense to me. It happend on September 11th and it happened while Brennis was in the hospital. I didn’t understand what was happening, why it was happening, what it meant, what I was suppossed to learn from it. All I could do was write about it for myself as though I was translating my own life into a language I could understand. So I started during those dark nights in the hospital with Brennis to write these thoughts in my head, making a promise to myself that if I was able when it was all over I would put them down on paper.

The truth of the matter is that I love to write. I love being able to say things like nobody else can and I love the process of making sense out of the world using this thing called language. It’s pretty incredible to be able to do that. I always marvel at those who do it well and sometimes I get close to that mark and anyway…I like to try.

I have begun to realize that not writing and not sharing my writing with others was an act of selfishness. I had been given a gift and I wasn’t using it. Even worse than that I resented having the gift. I hated the expectations of it. THAT is selfishness.

For me now it’s not important whether people like my writing or not. I understand now that that’s not the important part. The important part is that I use this gift and use it with care. I don’t know why I have it and I don’t really know what to do with it but I know it’s what I’m supposed to do.

I had a dream the other night that I lived in a room that was four stories tall and on the walls of that room were shelves of books stacked from floor to ceiling. Each book represented something that I was thankful for and I was reading each book and feeling the gratitude of each passage all over again. It was really a wonderful feeling to be able to conjure those feelings from simple words on paper. Being able to do that myself is something I’ll always be grateful for…..that, and the ability to dream.

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