Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Can We Capture a Dream?

The following is a guest post by editor and writer, Elizabeth Simons.
Can we ever capture a dream?
Whether it’s a daydream or a night dream, it is ephemeral. It’s a place with an other-worldly quality to it, filled simultaneously with hope and despair. Hope that the best of what we see will come to life and despair that our own inadequacies will always stand in the way and prevent its coming to birth.
When I was a child the dreams were so sweet because they took place in a realm that never existed in my everyday life. In my early years I was a fairy tale princess with a pure white horse, living in a castle where suffering was not allowed. Later, I was just a girl who was cherished.
Funny how things change.
Or they don’t change at all. My situation didn’t change, no matter how much I wished it would. The loftiness of my dreams expanded while my life spun out in a carnival ride of hopelessness.
There had to be a better world, and when I was 18 I left home to find it. I was young enough to believe that things could change, but too foolish to realize that fantasies could not transform people and situations. I could not wish a world into existence, no matter how tightly I closed my eyes and longed for it.
So I turned to writing about it. I scribbled furiously in my journal every night, analyzing my dreams from every conceivable viewpoint. I was eloquent in my despair but incoherent about hope. Why were things this way and not that way? Why did I feel chained to circumstances I could not control? When did the dreams become the reality while the real world retreated? Why was I unable to control them? More to the point: Why did I believe that, in the end, my world had always been and would always be an irredeemable still life?
I was tired. This kind of writing was not a way out but a retrenchment, a fast track to egocentrism. It was eternally repetitious and embarrassingly boring. And it was too easy.
I had to change the dream. I had to step inside it and transform it. As long as I allowed it to shapeshift into unfulfilled expectations I could never hope to see it clearly, not only for what it was but for what it could become.
Again, I turned to writing. I had to look at the dream as a stepping-stone, a paradoxical path to becoming more awake. I could not deny its sweetness nor decry the reality I wanted it to replace. I had to embrace the whole picture of my life as bent but not broken, dream-filled but not oblivious, and hopeful without being in denial. This kind of writing was anything but easy.
I am not master of the dream, but I am master of myself. I love that the dream is born outside time but comes to life within it. As I write, its gossamer qualities bloom on the page. I try to bring dream and reality together. Anything is possible.

In the end I did not capture the dream. I set it free.

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