Friday, August 12, 2016

Perseverance and Joy

Last night I had a vivid dream of meeting a young man whose legs had been amputated due to deformities from birth.  We were in my fictitious dream-land basement, myself, Jaiman, this young man and his brother.  They lived across the street.  The young man was essentially wrapped in a blanket, completely covering his body including his head and face.  He was situated on my sofa like a lump.  

When I sat down next to him, he started kicking my back incessantly.  His brother assured me he was trying to hurt me, he was trying to sit up straight.  I couldn't fathom why his head and face were covered - he had deformities in his legs, so maybe his face is so grotesquely deformed that he keeps it covered up.  But his brother didn't mention anything about his face, just the legs.  It was a puzzle, and I wanted to see his face, but he kept kicking me.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and I stood up and faced the sofa.  

Jaiman offered to help the young man, and his brother suggested we put on his "stilts" as he called them, the artificial limbs designed to help the young man walk.  I encouraged Jaiman to sit next to the young man, and we freed one leg in order to attach the artificial limb, and then the other.  All the while, he was kicking, wiggling, moving his legs in a desperate effort to sit up, get up, or run away completely.  It made me sad, but more so, it struck me as almost inhuman, and primitive, the way he kept at it even when there was nobody there to push off against, even when it seemed hopeless.  

The dream skipped what happened next, or I forgot it, but I never did see him walk or see his face.  But later that day, I was peering out my window, and I saw the young man and his mother, playing in their basement, a view only visible to my unique perspective.  The young man's face was no longer covered.  I've heard that the brain is incapable of inventing new human faces in our dreams, so this is why we usually don't see distinct faces, or the brain uses faces we've encountered recently or in the distant past, when we dream.  While I have seen many faces troubled with all sorts of deformities, the young man in my dream took on the face of an autistic child I had known growing up - a child who had been severely picked on in school, but was so incredibly brilliant, he went on to do amazing things in his life.  Dreams are funny things - because they are inventions of your mind so you have a sense of knowing things even when they aren't apparent, and I think sometimes you can even steer them.  In my dream, when I saw his face, the face of the child I once knew (and still keep in touch with), it was as I expected.  Not ugly or terribly deformed, not beautiful either, but troubled, a little wild with thoughts and aspirations, and kind.  

What excited me more, though, in my dream, is not that his face was fine, but what he was doing with his mom.  He was dancing!  It was awkward, and untrained, as you would expect, but he and his mom danced with such fervor, it filled me with happiness and peace just sitting there watching them, a view reserved only for me.  He wasn't dancing like nobody was watching, as the saying goes.  He was dancing like people who loved him were watching.  He had the confidence, knowing that if he started to fall, he would be caught.  He trusted that it didn't matter how silly he looked, he was loved.  And he was exuding joy.  

As dreams often do, it got weird.  I looked to his mom, a heavy-set woman in bright colors and typical mom clothes.  I looked back at him, and he had morphed into a middle-aged woman, like a girlfriend of his mom's, as if they were out at a bar dancing, reliving their 20's.  Then I saw Jaiman was there, and he was dancing too, dancing ridiculously, and he also morphed into a middle-aged woman.  And the three girlfriends danced like it was the last night they could.  They morphed in and out of these forms as I watched, not quite sure what to make of it.  But no matter what form they were in, they exuded joy.  

I thought back to the boy, huddled under covers on my sofa, kicking, and wiggling and trying to get up, and realized that he wasn't trying to sit up, or even to walk.  He wanted to dance.  His perseverance had seemed incomprehensible to me; I had thought of it as primitive.  

My dreams come in all shapes and forms.  I often dream about mundane tasks at work, especially when I'm feeling overwhelmed about how much there is to do.  I wake up from those nights feeling like I've already worked for 8 hours, because in my head, I have.  I have recurring mild nightmares reliving my high school days, being late to band practice, forgetting my shoes, not knowing where my trumpet is, missing the bus that is heading for a competition; those are just strange to me because I was a responsible band member, a section leader 3 of the 4 years, so I really don't know where they come from. Some dreams are just strange concoctions of things I'm involved with (Pokemon being the lasted leisurely activity looped into my dreams) and some dreams I'm a criminal, evading the law.  Some dreams I can only chalk up to being premonitions, their keen, spot-on analysis somehow predicting my immediate future.  

This dream was different from all of those, and not like what I usually dream about.  When I awoke, I drew immediate inspiration from it, believing that this boy came to me in my dreams to show me how lazy I've been, how I need to do better, how I need to keep kicking and fighting.  Life is not just about standing or walking.  It's about joy and love, and finding joy in doing what you love.  It's about dancing, whatever that means to each of us.  I needed to kick up my perseverance to an inhuman level to fight for what I want.  I cannot be dissuaded by the illusion of hopelessness.  Only then can I experience abundant joy like what I saw in the boy's dancing.  

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