How do you say goodbye to a dream? How do you deal with the fact that you can only start a dream but have no control over how it ends?
Dreams don’t ever end the way you expect them to. My first clue should have been dreams of the sleep variety.
So often, for the ones I can remember on waking, my dreams start remarkably well for me; I am achieving something, accomplishing something, learning something highly desirable to me. But just as often—whether positive dream or nightmare—the dream veers off the course that I would have consciously or rationally chosen for it, and I find I am not as in control of the dream as I had hoped. When the dream ends or when I awake, I find I am in a different place than I expected to be.
So it goes, I am learning, with wakeful dreams; those moments of aspiration and decision where you consciously set yourself on a path to something different.
I have spent my life dreaming of a different existence, and in the last year or so, I have been very active in making those dreams my new realities. As time passes, however, I am coming to realize that I have only so much power to steer my dream once I have initiated it. It is like climbing into a barrel and rolling into the river above Niagara Falls.
The current will do what the current will do. The rapids will buffet me as they choose. Gravity is the great roaring sound in the distance.
But as much as I talk about passively floating downstream and letting the universe decide, there is still a part of me—the human part, no doubt—that feels if I just press my shoulder this way or press my heels out that way, I can right the barrel so my head is high or somehow adjust the forces acting on the barrel such that I remain suspended above the gorge when I hit the precipice. But I am wrong.
I cannot say with certainty that upon hitting the precipice, I will plummet into the waiting whirlpools and eddies at the base of the falls. However unlikely, according to my friend Isaac Newton, I might fall sideways. The river could reverse its course at the last second. I could wedge behind a rock and simply be buffeted in place. Or I could wake up and find myself in bed.
I chose to set the wheels in motion, but that’s all I did, and to a greater or lesser extent, that’s all I can do.
The next few months will be very telling for the directions my recently initiated dreams will take me. I may awake to find they were ephemeral. They may continue into idyllic fields. They may turn into nightmares. It is not up to me.
If a dream must end, it will end. And if it ends badly, then I shall be sad and maybe a little angry. The onus is then on me to start another one. It is all I can do.