I am learning about dreams. Dreams that come during sleep. My desires, fears, and challenges confronting me. And to identify what a “Big Dream” looks like – living out a desire that defines who I am.
I am in a dream study group that allows me to share my dreams. Dreams are sometimes lost to us when we wake, to our conscious lives. I am learning ways to capture them by writing them down before I leave my bed. I will ask my dream what it is trying to tell me. And I will help others see what their dreams may be revealing.
When I was a little girl I had day dreams. Of living in a two story house. That my name might be changed to something more beautiful than Debbie. Dreams of what I would become. A ballerina? An archaeologist? A librarian?
As a young woman I dreamed of finding my place in the world. Was it to study primates in a lab? Travel to Malta? Find a soul mate? Stay close to the familiar?
Now I know what I am. Many of my dreams have come true. I am Daughter. Wife. Mother. Grandmother. And from that central identity I claim more names for myself. Reader. Writer. Naturalist. Historian. Researcher. Still I wonder how much of something must I be to claim it?
Now I dream of turning my words in to stories that I will share with others. I learned this from a big dream. I dreamed of being at an estate sale full of precious objects, velvet covered furnishings and artwork. Out of all the lovely treasures, I choose an elaborate gold frame, holding no image at all. I brought my dream to share with the others in my group, gain insight into its meaning. But I already knew it was about my writing.
Frames symbolize limitations. Boundaries. Vanity. But an empty one suggests that there is nothing to show for all the effort you have dedicated to a project.
Yes, that is it, exactly. Nothing to show for collections of words written on pages inside closed volumes, in files and folders inside my computer. They chronicle my life as I have traveled through these identities. Child. Youth. Adult. Daughter. My words reflect one view of the wider world. Trips taken. An infant’s growth. A family’s history.
No one else can see their message as they are, quiet and dormant. Writers I admire swear that they write only for themselves. Never mind many of them have enjoyed great publishing success. Ann Patchett, one of my favorite writers, speaks to me like a best friend. I laugh at her imagery, follow the way she constructs a sentence, nod at her sensory details. I love the voice inside her work. She says she doesn’t think about us when she writes. She writes to please herself.
I want to believe that. And I want to think that is true for me too. I write to record my thoughts and feelings about the world and my experience of it, and now I have a complete personal history. But my big dream is telling me something else. It’s time to share it. I don’t want to keep these words to myself any longer.