I have vivid dreams. They are the kind that are difficult to wake from and leave me wondering what is real. They are complicated and complete, as if I were living an impossible secret life. Nearly every night I wade in the most vibrant hues, hear the most beautiful sounds, and feel as deeply and completely as when I am awake – more so, sometimes. Often they are an exaggerated and accelerated version of my day. Sometimes they are beautiful and profound; other times, though, they are grotesque and disturbed. The one constant being that they always they seem so very real – and I remember the vast majority of them.
Last night I walked willingly into danger with the knowledge that the steps I took were likely to be my last. I felt the very marrow of my bones resonating a kind of fear that made me feel ironically alive. I knew it was the end and this gave me a strength of purpose, a courage that numbed that part of my brain which might cause me to falter or second guess my motives. I knew I was going to die. It was whispered to me in a red flash of eyes, and repeated in a way that insisted that there was no other way – but I was determined to prevent the deaths of my family, a group of strangers … and well, myself, (if I could), in the process. In the end I was betrayed, but alive – as were most – and trapped, and then it all became very “Kubrick”. Not that the outcome really matters, because in the end, I woke up as I always do. This was one of those dreams, though, that I just couldn’t shake. The kind that affects my understanding of the human experience and the world in general … & gets me thinking.
Tonight, I am thinking of our soldiers past and present. I am thinking about what it must be like walking through each day knowing it will most likely be the last. Marching into Berlin or the beaches in Normandy or Gettysburg or Vietnam or Iraq. My grandfather would talk mostly of the humor from the days of WWII and Korea. He once told me that during WWII his camp was shelled – while he was bathing – (as luck would have it the nearest was a dud), and all he could think was that his wife was going to get a notice that said something like “Your husband served valiantly in the European Theater. Died in the bath.” No life flashing before his eyes, just that thought “I’m in the middle of a war, and going to die in the bath”. An old boss of mine, on the other hand, absolutely refused to talk about his service in Vietnam. At all. It’s very odd the effect mortality has on life…
I have it easy. All I have to do is close my eyes and wake up in the morning. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll dream something profoundly horrible that is so real, it takes awhile to untangle the unconscious from the tangible “real world”. But I will always wake up. I have the luxury of waking from a nightmare to live an absolute dream of a life. Tonight, I give thanks to those who wake from a nightmare to live something much worse…And to those who wake from pleasant dreams to live in danger so that I might dream undisturbed.