First, this has nothing to do with Zola’s letter, except the title. This is about my dream, aspirations, and doubts.
As background, I finished writing and editing a series of novels called Incomplete States. With that finished, I was moving into the next steps of what to do when you’re written a novel and want to get it published. Options are available.
My dreamscape has been quiet for several days so I didn’t think my decisions would show up in my dreams. But, boom, they came. When I awoke and thought about it, I laughed about what I’d dreamed.
The dream began with a new venture. People were expecting me and had high expectations for what I would do. I was relaxed, going about getting acclimated. As the dream progressed, I learned that I was in the military (again), involved with command and control.
Awakening, I thought, “Of course the military would be included.” I’d spent twenty years in the military. The structure helped me succeed without stretching myself. It was a comfortable existence. I often retreat to it in dreams.
Things quickly began going awry in the dream. I felt constantly behind and a little bit lost. I couldn’t find my uniform. I discovered I was already supposed to be somewhere, and I was late. Scrambling, I rushed to find my uniform, shave, dress, and get to work.
I was naked when my wife came in. “What’s this?” she pointed at my side. I couldn’t see what she referenced.
“Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” she said, and then steered to a mirror. “I think you’d better take a look.”
She pointed out several boils on my side. Horrified, I tried lancing them, and failed. The effort put me behind. Now I really had to scramble.
Awakening, I realized that I was facing my anxieties. “Have you seen yourself in the mirror?” That question seemed like I was trying to pretend to be someone else, and that I wasn’t clearly seeing myself and the situation, that I was misleading myself. And look how I’m blemished and flawed, the things I don’t see about myself, how I’m fooling myself. I took all of that about my publishing ambitions.
Finding shaving cream, I hunted down a mirror and started applying it to shave. The shaving cream was thick and brown. Crude and unfinished, I thought after awakening and reflecting on the dream, just as I worry that others will think about the series.
Another military member in uniform stuck their head in the window. “What are you doing?” I said.
“Looking at someone using a mirror,” he said. “I’ve never seen that done before. I was wondering what it’s like.”
How absurd, I thought, but, awakening, I realized that I was questioning even the most basic aspects of myself. I remembered reading about experiments involving animals mirrors. Looking in a mirror and realizing that you’re seeing yourself is used to explore animal intelligence and self-awareness. By implying that I (as another entity in the dream) didn’t know how to use a mirror was a question about my self-awareness and intelligence.
A phone rang and I answered it. “We have an inflight emergency,” a male voice said. “We need you here to decide what to do.”
I was appalled. “But I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Then you’re not coming?”
“No.” I hung up.
I didn’t need to think much about that aspect after awakening. The message behind the words seem nakedly clear, as did the next dream segment.
A chief master sergeant that I’d worked for during my first tour called me to him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but this isn’t working out. To be honest, I expected more of you. It didn’t work out so I’m sending you back home.”
“‘But Chief,” I protested, but he wouldn’t listen to me.
Yes, it was all there, all the doubts, uncertainty, and uncertainty, along with rejection by a person in authority who I admired.
I thought I’d mastered these things, demonstrating again how easily I can fool myself. Yes, those doubts exist. Hell, they exist with the majority of efforts that anyone does. To reach and succeed, failure, ridicule, and exposure must be risked. These doubts are always in me, no matter how many times I’ve succeeded, or how often I’ve been reassured by myself and others. That’s just part of who I am.
While it gave me a good laugh to see how earnestly my subconscious mind (and thus, me) attacked me, it hasn’t changed anything. It’s there, and I know it, but I’m stepping out.