Strange Brew

I dreamed last night about the power of eight. That is literally and explicitly what the dream was about, no B.S. I remember all of this thanks to a cat.

I know that will surprise you.

In the dream, I was in a class with others but not a classroom. I don’t know who the others were. Someone unknown was explaining that the power of eight shapes everything. Basically in a ‘Matrix’ reveal, I was shown how streaming digits make up reality. Then we were told, “If you can find the power of eight in the numbers, you’ll unlock the power of creation.” Then, as we all talked and looked, I grasped that within the threads were sequences that added up to eight. As I realized the implications and began bubbling with the thrill of knowledge, I began showing them to the rest of the class and elaborating on the instructor’s explanation about how to see and capture the power of eight. As example, I explained, laughing, “Like this one.” I captured a sequence. “That’s eight hundred thousand dollars.”

At that point, whiskers, licking and kneading awakened me. Quinn the Black Paw was hungry. The food in the bowls didn’t suit his mood. It didn’t matter that it was oh dark A.M. Resigning myself the power of the cat, I fed him, and then used the opportunity to pee and ponder the dream.

I was pretty much at a loss about what it meant then. Like, what was I supposed to do? Take a pill and find an eight? Returning to bed, I resumed sleeping.

The lessons about the power of eight continued with further dreaming. They were explaining how the power of eight was part of a balance. But now, instead of being in a class room, I was standing atop stairs. Others, like my wife, accompanied me, but they were incidentals. Dark, dark, dark cheery red, these steps were worn smooth. Like contoured hillsides of rice paddies, they extended in either direction, leading down to something that I couldn’t see. In fact, the only other thing seen was a blue grey sky.

I knew I was to go down the stairs, and I did. This was a learning expedition, and I felt pretty good about the whole thing. My wife and a few others accompanied me. At the bottom was a land, and people who…well, they identified themselves as the common people. They explained I was to kill two of them.

That shocked me. It could not be right. But no, they were comfortable with my intentions. I’d done it before and others did it, too. They liked the way I killed them, demonstrating empathy and kindness when I did. Besides, they told me, I often gave others gifts. Which was true, I remembered then, as I absorbed it all. On the way down, I’d left and given packages as gifts.

Then, my instructions were to return to the top of the stairs and resume my lessons in the power of eight. I returned to the top of the stairs and awoke, confused.

What in the hell is the power of eight, and how am I supposed to harness any of that dream information in this real existence?

At that point, I wanted to return to dream with instructions to myself to provide further explanation. But sleep eluded me. Instead, I thought about my recent state of mind.

It’s been that time of month, when I’m coping with my darkness. Essentially, my darkness has a mission statement that I’m to feel so depressed and miserable that I question, why the hell am I even alive? Arriving in this depressed state, I become all, J’accuse: Thou art a shite writer writing shite fiction. Nobody wants to read the hot sloppy piles that you write, so why do you torture myself with this pursuit?

I know, intellectually, I’m coping with an emotional state that affect huge swaths of population. None of that really helps. I’d been reading to manage it. In the marvelous way that the world works, I’d come across a T.C. Boyle interview and a John Scalzi post. Both helped bolster my resistance to quit.

Boyle’s post was ‘Writing Advice from T.C. Boyle’, in which he provided five points to help you keep writing. His second point:

2. The .357 Magnum. The second tip goes (if you’ll forgive me) hand-in-hand with the first. In recognition of the fact that all writers are manic-depressives, alcoholics, drug-addicts and fixedly specialized degenerates, it’s always helpful to keep a loaded pistol on your desk, perhaps located conveniently beside the ballpeen hammer, depending, of course, on the size of the desk. This acts as an aide-memoire, a spur to creativity and, of course, the ultimate solution to writers’ block.

The other post, by John Scalzi, was Rejection. He closed:

In the meantime, I’ve already sent a query off to another agent. You can’t sit around moping after a rejection, you have to rush into the arms of the next rejection. Because who knows? It might not be a rejection at all.

Heartening words, the words that every writer embraces, the essence being, who knows when you’ll get your break? It’s a strange brew where writers reside. As other writers have written, we’ve developed good taste about what we like to read, and we’re attempting to envelope that good taste in what we write in a difficult and often lonely, and solitary endeavor. And I, being of low self-esteem and a person who eschews attention, struggle with writing and wanting attention for what I write against being a solitary creature who is pretty happy writing in his isolation. It’s a messed up, strange brew. And again: I know I’m not alone.

I told my wife about my dream this morning.  She suggested I hunt down meanings for the power of eight. Doing a web search, I came across Christine DeLorey’s website, Creative Numerology. She’d specifically written about ‘The Power of Eight’.

Reading her post reinforced my understanding of the dream. Frankly, I was startled by having such a dream and then discovering such explanation on the web. I’d wondered if I’d read about the power of eight before, and had simply regurgitated previously required knowledge.

I don’t know. My wife’s book club met last night. Their book in discussion was ‘Ordinary Grace’. As always, they investigated the author, William Kent Krueger. They’d discovered some good interviews with him that she shared with me, where he discussed his frustrations with writing novels and trying to become published. I mentioned that’s what writers, including me, are always seeking, that perfect strange brew where the good taste that we’ve acquired through reading is blended with the good taste we infuse in our writing, but also with the good taste that civilization displays by finding and reading our work. It’s a very, very strange brew, and none of us are sure of the exact ingredients.

But my wife closed, “Well, you can’t stop writing. Writing is part of the Perfect M. Writing is your drug, and it keeps you balanced.”

M is my private nickname, BTW, to clarify. I began using that initial to sign things like a zillion plus years ago and she adopted it as her term for me. But she’s right. I write because I need to write. Everything else is just the strange brew of being.

And now, since it’s the song that I sang to myself while walking down to write, here’s another shot at today’s theme song: ‘Strange Brew’, by Cream, 1967.





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