I’ve been thinking of life in terms of dreams lately — not the big, ambiguous kind that fuel desires and achievements. An actual dream – a set of many details, capable of being forgotten in a second; in the time it takes to wake up.
I can remember the dreams I had last night — a horrifyingly nerdy tale of forgetting to do a menial task at work, one that I’ve remembered successfully every day.
I remember one from last week about a boy, but that one’s fairly common.
I occasionally remember nightmares from years past, as I assume everyone does — the terrifying kind where bad things happen and I’m just looking in on the whole thing, questioning why I’m still stuck in the dream and why I’m doing nothing to stop any of it. Unsure why my subconscious is doing this tonight.
I even remember the recurring dream I had when I was a kid, that a witch was going to sweep through my bedroom window and steal me. (This happened often enough that 20 years later, it’s still ingrained in my psyche).
But the color of the sky behind the witch is long gone from my memory. I remember that boy’s face, but not the color of the shirt he was wearing. I know the task I forgot last night, but not its importance in regards to my day. These details fade momentarily.
I like writing things down, but often don’t. Because what I have to say is less than exceptional; a thought we’ve all had a million times that won’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. It certainly won’t change the world.
But life is a bit like a dream. I’ve forgotten many of the things I have to say that I didn’t bother to write down. And there’s a longing in the bottom of my heart to say each one of those things, long after I don’t remember any of them.
I didn’t write much down about 2015, because I felt like it didn’t matter much anyway. I said the things that did matter to people around me, and I thought as long as I’ve spoken it into the world, it happened and it will be remembered. That’s not the way it works, though, and I’ve been a bit sad about my decision to do so for most of the year.
I’ve taken many pictures. One for most of the days of last year. But the smiles, the laughs, the tears that happened in the course of the year aren’t remembered.
In 20 years, I may remember the joy I felt driving across Maine at 6 in the morning as the sun came up by looking at a picture I took during that trip, but maybe I won’t. It was the feeling of being alive in the most pure way possible – I spent the night before with my best friend, on a pitch-black coastal road in Maine that ended in a small fishing village. We spent the night with strangers in a beach house, laying across rocks and staring at the most beautiful stars I’ve ever laid eyes on. I talked about God with a guy I just met, who probably would have spent the entire speech contemplating how crazy I was if he had been a little more sober. Three hours later, driving through tiny towns as they woke for the day, I felt love. From God. From the universe. From anything that can possibly send love. It was one giant hug, a reminder that I’m doing okay.
I hope to remember the ocean the day before. Standing in the middle of rocks so intricately carved, I don’t see how anyone can question the existence of God. I felt small, in the way that we all hope to feel small. In the way that reminded me things are bigger than I could ever imagine and any hurt in my heart is even more minuscule than I, so it must certainly disappear much sooner than I’ll cease to exist.
I hope I remember the moment a friend looked at me and said, “It turned out just like you planned, right?” His sarcasm in discussing the way my life is going filled me with nothing but happiness — this is certainly not what I ever envisioned, but I’m thankful to have people along the way who understand me.
There was a fleeting moment or two this year when I proved myself worthy — to myself. Some people don’t struggle with this, but I’ll never know what it’s like to be them. There were a few moments this year when I was fully and completely proud of myself, and that’s progress.
In less time than it takes to forget these things, I’ll have forgotten the bad about 2015 — the growing pains. Life is easier when we romanticize it; so much so that I can’t even bring myself to write any of the specifics down. That was my plan, with writing my favorite moments down. I’d also write down the bad, because that’s where the lessons come from — but I’d really rather I just remember the lessons. That’s what I’ve learned most about getting older — the general idea of the bad thing is a better memory than the details, and that’s the way it was all designed for a reason.
I do hope I remember the lessons I learned from those growing pains, though, because they hurt quite a bit. I’d like to remember to trust my intuition; to stay away from things that aren’t good for me; to take the long road if possible (not because of any virtuous reason, just because I’m stubborn and seem to like figuring out the answers on my own); and I hope I remember to be kind.
I also hope I’ll remember to write down the details more in 2016.