“Reality is never as bad as a nightmare, as the mental tortures we inflict on ourselves.” -Sammy Davis, Jr.
I keep having the same dream.
Nay. The same three dreams.
- I get into a fist fight with someone, someone I should easily be able to beat up. Someone who deserves to be beat up. But the problem is, my body is stuck in super slowmotion, whereas my opponent is fighting me in realtime. So, even when I make clean contact with him (or her; don’t want to be sexist) they can barely feel it. And I lose.
- I come into town, and the local hockey team approaches me, and says, “Sam, we’ve got a big game tonight, and we really need you to play for us. You’re the best player in the world, and we could really use your goalscoring prowess. Can you help?” And I say, “Sure. I’ll see you there.” And then I show up to the game, only to discover that I had the start-time wrong and the game is already underway. But it’s okay, I just missed the first period. I’ll get dressed quickly, and I’ll be out there in a jiffy. I start tying my skates, and the laces break. I try to find another pair of laces, but it takes me 20 minutes or so. Guys from my team are poking their head into the dressing room, “Sam. We need you. We’re losing by a goal. Get out here.” My skates are too dull. I need to find someone who can sharpen them. Another 20 minutes goes past. I can hear the crowd chanting my name, beckoning me to deliver victory to their city. It’s the third period now, and I’m fully dressed, but I can’t find my hockey stick. I brought it, didn’t I? It’s okay, I’ll just use someone else’s. But everyone on my team is left-handed. It’s okay, I’ll just blowtorch one of the lefty sticks, and bend it into a righty. It’s the last minute of play in the third period, and my team has a powerplay. Where did I put my helmet? They won’t let me play without a helmet! The buzzer sounds. The game is over. I let everyone down.
- You’ve probably heard your server friends talk about “service anxiety dreams” or “server nightmares”. Y’know, when you’re waiting tables, and the section is too big, everyone’s unhappy, and the floor-plan of the restaurant is something of a labyrinth? And you’ve also probably heard your theatre friends talk about what we call “performance anxiety dreams” or “the actor’s nightmare”. Y’know, when you’re asked to reprise a role you played in highschool, you don’t remember any of your lines and the audience hates you? Well, folks, put your hands together because my subconscious has combined everyone’s two favourite genres: I’m waiting tables at a dinner theatre in which I am the feature act. I’m giving everyone poor service, dropping drinks, forgetting to greet tables, whilst trying to entertain them with my one-man show. The stage is raked, and my shoes are so slippery that I keep sliding off the apron into people in the front row, knocking over all their food that I didn’t even have time to quality check. People can’t decide what’s more disappointing, my awful show, or my awful service.
My jaw is starting to hurt from all the nighttime clenching.
What the hell is going on? I feel really calm and grounded in my waking life. But whenever I descend into my REM sleep, it’s nightmare time.
The root is unclear.
My life seems relatively simple right now. I work in a restaurant that I genuinely enjoy working in. I make good money, I get along famously with all my co-workers and employers, and the clientele is composed almost entirely of lovely people. Whenever I’m not waiting, I’m working on projects I care a great deal for. I’m in a loving relationship. I enjoy writing and performing. I exercise. I’ve curbed my drinking. I just don’t know where this is coming from.
I feel like my dreams are trying to tell me something, but dreams are like poetry: the teachings and messages and wisdoms are never as ‘on the nose’ as we might like.
I was never really a poetry guy.