I was talking with my aunt about difficulties sleeping, and I told her the honest truth: I didn’t know what was keeping me awake.
Then I told her about being scared about applying for grad school, and feeling irresponsible and adrift for quitting my job; I told her about the people I left behind, and about my chemistry teacher who lost her daughter and how we’d talked about my grandpa dying; I talked about finding out one of my former classmates had died, and how I felt like I had no control and was always behind and never caught up; I talked about my laptop dying, and not know how I would pay for school, and just plain old needing help with schoolwork; I don’t even know what all I talked about, but when I was done, she gave me a look and said,
“I can think of 10 different reasons why you can’t sleep, just from what you said.”
It would seem to me that if I’m not in any immediate danger, and all my basic needs of food and shelter are being met, and I am exhausted, then I should be able to sleep. I’m not preservating on any one thing; I am, as my aunt noted, “all over the place.” That, apparently, is part of the problem.
But there is a lot I didn’t tell her, too.
I didn’t tell her about how badly I’d like to start a family of my own.
I didn’t tell her about how my imagination is always caught by the idea of traveling the nation in a pop-up camper like a modern day gypsy.
I didn’t tell her about how I know that there will always be need, but what I want is to go where the need is greatest.
I didn’t tell her about how I didn’t want a just-so life, neat and square.
I didn’t tell her about wanting to be a published author–not for the fame of it, but just to know that what I wrote resonated across human souls.
I didn’t tell her my dreams, and I didn’t tell her how hard it can sometimes feel to hold a world full of wonder inside of you while you dutifully plod along. One foot in front of the other, one assignment after the next. Insisting to yourself that you are going somewhere, but doing it so slowly you’re not quite sure if you really are moving at all, or will ever arrive anywhere.
I keep waiting for permission to just have fun.
I don’t mean, “have fun “drunk-on-somebody’s couch” have fun. I mean, “letting-the-dreams-come-out-of-you” have fun. It’s still work; but it’s so much more full of life–not a reflection of duty, but a reflection of the self you were created to be.
Am I supposed to settle for less than that? Accept that dreams are dreams for a reason–they don’t find their way to waking hours? And if I’m not supposed to settle for less than that visions imbedded in my mind, how do I exchange one for the other? A person still needs to eat, and eating needs money, and money needs a job, and once you’re in a job, how do you dream? And what do you do with the fear and the mourning that your dreams may never be more than dreams?