Friday, March 23, 2012

A Message in a Dream

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” – Calvin & Hobbes

Night before last I dreamed about Maggie. It has been a long, long time since I’ve seen her – in person or otherwise. Even in my dream, rich emotions were quickly whipped up. Let me set the stage.

In my dream, we were traveling with a group of friends. The one and only scene in which she played a role involved her sitting at a table or couch, surrounded by friends while she animatedly told a story. (Such a scene wasn’t unusual; she always had LOTS to say and was almost always the center of everyone’s attention. And she was ALWAYS animated!) In this one and only scene, she never even looked at me or acknowledged my presence. In the dream, this wasn’t odd. (Dreams are very odd ducks.)

When I saw her in my dream, a deep feeling overwhelmed me that I now struggle to describe. The feeling definitely wasn’t sadness but, instead, euphoria but way more basal or primal than that specific word implies. The only way I can possibly describe the feeling was as if my heart had long been locked tightly in a cramp. Then, very suddenly upon seeing her – the way she moved, the way she spoke, the way she just… was – my heart instantly and completely relaxed. It was like the day we first met when my soul said, “Ah, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” This time, my soul added, “God, I’ve missed you.”

Euphoric or not, I knew instinctively that she was upset with me because I was obsessing over the pictures that I was taking while we were traveling. I had spent hours pouring over this or that photo worried that it didn’t capture the scene like I thought it should. Some photos were too dark. Some photos were off center. One specific photo I remember all too well was very washed out and didn’t capture clearly her face like I wanted it to. In addition to pouring over failed photos, I was trying to stage and re-take more. Yup, I was obsessing. And she was unhappy with me. She wanted me to put down the photos and just be a part of the trip with everyone else.

(It’s funny how without a single word could tell exactly why my lovely wife was upset with me!) (And, just for the record, she was rarely upset with me.) (And just for another record, God, I wish she had said anything… ANYTHING to me!)

I’ve pondered that silly dream for many hours now but my interpretation hasn’t changed since the second I woke up. The message is simple and clear: a life spent focused on trying to keep memories alive is a life spent living in the past. Living in the past tends to keep us from appreciating what’s going on right here, right now. And it’s really hard to see and smell roses when you walk down the path of life facing backwards.

I hear you, Maggie. I’ll keep pushing forward. It’s time to breath new life into the Business of Change.

(P.S. And, uh, Maggie, if you appear in my dreams again, could you please at least say hi or even have a conversation with me?  It'd be real nice.  And can we, uh, have some, you know… *cough* “adult” time?)


  1. Thanks, Chris.
    I've had dreams about my husband and I have the same type of feeling that you describe so well as "primal euphoria". I experience a sense of wholeness, peace and relaxation. When I see him my entire body relaxes and I exhale, as if I've been holding my breath for 5 months(as of today.)

  2. Loved this post Matt. Especially the visceral feeling you have upon seeing her. When I have dreamt of Jim that is the feeling _ that intense relief and love. Where I feel suddenly I can breathe in a way that i don't anymore.

    I had to laugh at the "adult" time. I had a dream my husband and I were um. . . together but in the dream we kept getting interrupted! It was the most frustrating dream. Sad to wake up and remember how good it used to be. But like you said.
    It is time to push forward and keep going.
    Thanks for posting Calvin and Hobbes. My favourite.

  3. I haven't had any dreams (that I remember) of Dave for quite a few months now. (I absolutely LOVE it when I do.) The last dream is starting to fade but it was exactly as you say. I wasn't sad - just a sense of overwhelming relief that swept over me. I remember when our eyes met in the dream and the the look he gave me was like, "I'm so sorry." He just looked at me like he knew I had been so worried for him, but he was totally OK.

    Haha! And your last line made me laugh out loud! That's not just a guy thing! Trust me!

    It's amazing how death can bring us all together. Right here. And despite all of our differences, (socially, economically, culturally, distance, male/female) we all have so many similarities. Death is definitely the ultimate equalizer.

  4. I just had a dream the other night that my Chris's illness was longer than it actually was and that I got to say goodbye. It really felt like closure since I didn't get to do this in real life. Interesting that dreams can give us some of what we need.

    And this line is perfect: "it’s really hard to see and smell roses when you walk down the path of life facing backwards."

  5. I long for more dreams, not because it takes me away from my reality of life without him, but because of that euphoric feeling when I awake and realize he was with me again, if only in a dream. It gives me a sense of peacefulness, I know he is ok, but feel he is checking on my state. I rarely see him in the dream, but I know he's there beside me, I can just feel his presence. Same way when I am in a place where we spent a lot of time together, usually hiking or sailing, especially snorkeling.

    I guess we all need to turn around on that path of life, as much as we want to have that past life back, it ain't gonna happen. I can't quite appreciate the present yet, but I'm working on it. Thanks, Chris, hope you have some adult time soon in your dreams (or better yet, in real time!).

  6. God how I wish I could dream....or remember them at least :( I miss Gordon so much.