Upon Waking



I didn’t realize that I was having a bad dream until I woke up and started crying. This woke up the Curmudgeonly Lion, in alarm, who wanted to know what was wrong. At the time, I could remember the dream: I was giving a presentation in a class- it was some kind of report on something that I’d read or seen outside of class and I’d done the work, but I couldn’t seem to order my thoughts or put them into words. I was the first one to go. The harder I tried to focus the more I floundered and stuttered and got tongue tied- my voice got tight and tense which made me sound more nervous than I felt and the more I tried to steady it the worse it got; sounding stupider and stupider until I just had to stop.

The professor was sympathetic and made some polite excuses on my behalf, which somehow made things worse: I stood there in the class, silently, and felt tears roll down my face, but I didn’t say anything. Then, of course, I woke up and started crying for real.

How do you explain something like that? I dreamed about getting mush-mouthed and everybody was really nice about it  and it made me wake up crying? Clearly it tapped into something somewhat deeper than my rational mind could- no pun intended- put into words.

I tried to reason through my feelings while I waited for my head to clear so that I could go back to sleep. Perhaps the dream represented a fear of being misunderstood. Perhaps the dream represented a fear of not being prepared and rehearsed. Perhaps this is where stage fright comes from.

Whatever the deeper meaning, it made me realize why I spend so much time worrying and preparing and contingency planning: I like to think that I can adapt well in the moment, but it might only be because I’ve already worked through a lot of the possibilities. It was interesting that I wasn’t naked or drawing a blank: it wasn’t the classic dream of showing up for an exam and not having taken the class- it was very clear that I knew what I needed to talk about and I just failed to communicate it. The fear of every storyteller.

Maybe the dream makes sense after all.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 13, 2016.

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