Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Waking Dreams

As a child I was somewhat reclusive, daydreamed much of the time, talked to trees, insects, animals. I had many conversations with my pet goldfish until its untimely demise down the washtub drainpipe. My daydreams led to many accidents, like walking into things or riding my bike into parked cars. I even fell asleep in a snow bank once, because I was so caught up in my fantasy world. My parents had been looking for me for hours and finally found me lying perfectly still amongst all that whiteness.

This is still a problem, or so I am told. I have been accused many times of being too idealistic, naive, enraptured by my own fantasies. I wonder what it means to be “too” of anything. Either one is or one is not, the degree of which hardly seems the point.

Reality is a hard place for me. I have always preferred the solitude of my own landscapes. The issue, as I see it, is that when one lives a life of dreams, the world becomes a frightening place. This cannot be helped, since in fact that is what it is. As a child I kept a garbage bag full of stuffed animal by the window in case of a fire. At night I had vivid nightmares. But during the day my waking dreams kept me grounded, not so much in reality but grounded as in feeling safe, solid, like I wouldn’t be blown away by the direction of the wind.

I worry about my daughter because she seems to have some of my neurosis, picks compulsively at little pieces of thread, fuzz or dirt. She dreams of dinosaurs roaming the night and wolves howling. She worries about me going away from her or someone taking her away. She worries about what happens to bees in the winter, and that we will run out of peanut butter and her sandwich will never taste the same again. She worries all the time. And still she is a happier child than I was, content most of the time. She loves to be with people and talks very well for her age, which only makes sense because she has barely stopped since her first word.

She is sweet, compassionate, and has an imagination that soars. I want her to experience the flight, like a kite released into an immense sky. But how do I ground her? Be her rope tethered to firm ground? I have never been the rock, always the thing in motion.

When she was just two years of age, I was pushing her in her baby swing when she began reaching out her arms.

“What are you doing?”

“I want to touch the sky mommy.”

Your arms are not big enough, child. Use your heart.