Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dixie Music, Crazy Dreams and Actual Humans

InterVarsity, the company I've worked for for almost 8 years now, has an interesting way of training you. They send you, in general, to a school with which you are unfamiliar in a town where you know no one to find a church in a short amount of time that you may or may not connect with in the hopes that you'll build relationships that will inevitably end in 9 months or less, all while learning to do a job that takes a tremendous amount of spiritual and emotional energy, not to mention the ability to understand cultural references meant for people much younger than you on a consistent basis.

So, it is not unusual for said intern year to come along with a myriad of issues. For me, I spent my 9 months living alone on $700 a month on one side of a duplex with no central heat and dealing with insomnia which meant that I could not ignore the high decibels of dixie music emanating from the other side of the walls, courtesy of my elderly, grumpy and hearing-impaired neighbor whose favorite pasttime seemed to be to intermittently accuse me of unsavory noctural activities. All this occurred while being engaged long-distance and being continually bombarded with the notion that I was, in fact, a Yankee and was, therefore, not welcome in rural NC. Thank you, Mr. Landlord.

One of the ways that I seem to deal with transitions and stress seems to dream and that year was no different. Perhaps I work out my angst in my subconscious, since up until the point I started blogging I've never been good at actually working it out in healthy and relational ways. So, you can imagine with the perfect storm of dysfunction mentioned in the previous paragraphs that I was dreaming up a storm. My most vivid one related to marriage, as many of my dreams do. Being engaged is one thing. Being engaged long-distance when you always swore you'd never get married at all is quite another, so I was definitely anxious about the whole thing. One night I found myself in the very interesting dream reality of a new mandate from my employer. Apparently, IV National was having trouble recruiting new staff and was making all single staff (including those engaged to non-staff) find a student and marry him or her asap to bring them into the staff family. In my dream, I had to marry one of the current leaders in our chapter - I remember the awkward moment of informing this student of the mandate and proposing to him, the pre-marital counseling, the wedding ceremony and even the party. Thankfully, I woke up before the wedding night, however, this did not prevent me from experiencing waves of embarrassed horror when, the following evening, said student stood up to make an announcement at our weekly meeting and the dream came rushing back in all it's vivid truth.

I am still at a point here, post-sabbatical, where I'm not dreaming much. I seem to be falling asleep with relative ease, sleeping through the night and waking up in what appears to be actual reality, not a dream-induced panic to rediscover actual reality. I'm thankful for that, although I will admit that I think I had developed a kind of relationship with my dreams. There's a certain looking-forward-to-the-morning when you consistently have dreams that involve aliens, ocean-wide rope bridges and Arnold Schwarzeneggar that the smell of coffee cannot induce in me. Don't get me wrong- I'm happy to be working out my angst through writing and, gasp, actual human interaction, but I wonder if I will ever find ways to revisit my dream world that are healthy. Despite those panicked moments when you don't know if a dream was real, the entertainment factor and clarity of my own weirdness was oddly comforting.

Looking back, it might have been better during my intern year to actually talk to humans about how hard it was but I'm glad that I'm learning how to do it now. Learning how to actually let other people into those places where the angst threatens to spill into panicked dreams. To identify feelings and desire change in ways that are attainable. To trust other people to point me toward God and not have to be on a solo journey all the time. I'll miss my dreams but as I continue down this road of knowing and being known let's be honest: I'm sure I'll still get to encounter a heck of a lot of weirdness. Sometimes the truth of what's really going on and the craziness we encounter in our selves and friends can be a whole lot more entertaining than a dream, anyway.

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