In the dream, I’m in the middle of towering steel and glass highrises in a large, downtown city, the sky’s blue reflected from building to building. I’m not aware of any particular sounds or smells but street traffic is heavy and sidewalks are crowded with busy, rushing people.
I’m anxious. I’m to start a new job in one of these highrises. Will I be able to deal with the new work environment? Will I succeed? Where will I live? What part of town? Will I be able to support myself? How much style will I have to sacrifice to find a place that is affordable? Will I be able to build a retirement income?
I vacillate in the dream from being energized at the prospect of a new challenge to feeling out-of-place and aware that I no longer belong in this busy, downtown world.
The dream never seems to go beyond that point and when I wake, I’m surprised that I dreamed of a new city and a corporate job. Is it San Francisco, Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Nashville, or perhaps, Dallas? I can’t pinpoint the city. I’ve worked in highrises in all those places but it’s been thirty-three years since the first day I walked into a job in a highrise and eighteen years since I left the corporate world for self-employment.
Strange that I never had the dream until after I’d retired from selling Real Estate and moved back home to care for my elderly parents. Perhaps that’s the point. I left the outside work world of highrises and busy downtown streets and took on a job that is primarily contained within the four walls of this suburban house.
I’d had the dream a time or two before I realized it was a stress dream. It typically came the night before I had some task to which I had committed myself but about which I was uncertain. The times of the dream that stand out in my memory are the nights before Daddy’s Memorial Service; before I drove to UCLA the first year I went to the Los Angeles Times Book Fair; the night before singing a solo, also the night before I started my first writing class in West L.A. with the highly regarded writer and teacher, Jack Grapes.
A few nights ago, I had the dream again. This time, there were people at my new job in the highrise. They weren’t faceless, but I couldn’t tell you much about them. Again, the city was unknown, but everything was bright, shiny, modern and exciting. I asked a thirty-something man where he lived and what the housing options were in town. He told me about the trendy, beautiful, large and upscale apartment he rented in a building with all the amenities: pool, spa, exercise rooms, doorman, cleaners, restaurant, WiFi, grocery, roof gardens. He said it was downtown in walking distance to my new job. Wow. Sounded wonderful. And expensive. Probably far more than I could afford.
“How much do you pay, if you don’t mind me asking?” I asked.
“Three Hundred and Forty-Eight Dollars.” He said cheerfully.
“What?” Surely, I’d heard wrong. “Three thousand, Three Hundred and Forty-Eight?”
“No. Three Hundred Forty-Eight.”
I was ecstatic. I was starting a great new job and I’d have a wonderful place to live. This was thrilling!
When I woke later, I was amazed at the change of my stress dream to a dream of possibility and excitement of great things to come, things of challenge as well as enjoyment and ease and comfort; things bright and shiny and new, surrounded by blue sky. But why had it changed?
I’d gone to bed in the wee hours of the night, tired but happy after posting to my blog and getting positive feedback from family and friends and even strangers with blogs of their own. The dream hadn’t changed because I had learned all I needed to know about writing well; nor because I’d crossed the goal line of maximum impact with my writing footprint on the big, wide, world.
Rather, I had begun. I had pushed against the fears of not being good enough, of having nothing to say, the fear of saying something offensive or politically incorrect that would end any chance of being considered a successful writer.
As I thought about the dream, positive as it was, the unknowns lurking there were clear. Will there be enough income to take me through retirement? Enough for some of life’s finer things, like travel or a lovely place to live? Was there significance to the age of the man who told me about the apartment? I was successful in the corporate world in my thirties and forties. Am I now too old to accomplish anything of worth or value? By the time Mother’s days on earth are finished, will it be too late for me to travel and to embrace once again, the outside world?
Yet, when you boil it all down, is there anything new here? Don’t we all have the same needs for significance, safety and security? None of us can see the future and a dream of stress or a dream of promise won’t change what happens, but my dream reminds me that I’m to push forward against the fears, all the while resting firm in what I know to be true:
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
God will be there to walk with me into that waiting future. What else could I need?