Sometimes I don’t want to wake from my dreams and that scares me, just a little. This morning, I found myself wrestling between my interest in what the day would hold and my interest in what returning to a really good dream might hold. The dreams won, several times. Part of me is grateful to realize that, since my dreams represent my subconscious, and my subconscious appears to be producing happy dreams, then my waking life is probably going pretty well. Still, I spend a lot of time reading fiction, writing fiction, and watching fiction. So when I wake only to find myself trying to return to the fiction of a dream, I wonder: just how much real life am I experiencing, and how much am I turning into some kind of Walter Mitty?
I have a relatively active, involved life: traveling, dancing, hiking, taking Tai Chi, working. But there again: when I dance I often live in a three-minute fantasy of being part of a musical about fictional romance, and when I work I’m often teaching or helping clients to write fictional stories.
Am I living in a fantasy world? Maybe not. Maybe I just wish it weren’t so hard to turn off the TV or put down a book at the end of the night. Maybe I just wish it weren’t so hard to wake up in the morning.
What was I watching last night that was hard to turn off? Chuck. What was I reading last night that was hard to put down? Cloud Atlas…again. And what was I dreaming about this morning that I wanted to return to? Only what I often dream of: being young and falling in love, over and over, sometimes with my husband, sometimes with strangers I’ve never met in real life but who seem important in my dreams, sometimes with movie stars. Huh. Now that I write it down, it all makes sense. Those sorts of dreams are just more stories, more novels and movies and episodic TV.
Do Cormac McCarthy, Annie Proulx, and Jhumpa Lahiri have this problem? The Coen Brothers and Jeff Nichols? Vince Gilligan, Joss Whedon? I like to imagine they do…Oops, there I go again!
Creators of novels, movies, and non-reality TV are creators of worlds that do not exist. Yet if we want to make those unreal worlds meaningful, we must, I believe, retain a strong connection to the real one. It ain’t easy. “Let’s pretend“ is as tempting to me now as it was when I was a child. Part of me insists that this isn’t a problem to worry about, but a gift to be grateful for.
Do you have trouble letting go of your morning dreams? Do you have trouble letting go of good stories?