Nothing but gratitude tonight. Plain and simple.
In the bathroom, in the dark, washing some metal circular rings, felt with hands that one of them was a dream catcher (feathers, webbing, etc.) Awareness of uncommon situation/ things. Got the feeling I was dreaming, tried to turn on the bathroom lights, no go. Go back upstairs to bed, screaming to zeke. “I want to wake up! I want to wake up!! Can you hear me? I don’t want to do this right now. Wake me up!”
Instead of waking up, I roll into a new dream, still lucid. Warehouse/loft type of place, seems to be our apt- Reminds me of Mary Poppins “I love to laugh” scene. (Doesn’t look like that, but strange feeling of weightlessness/ silliness.) Eli and Zeke are there. Eli is super tiny, 3yo maybe. I decide to teach them how to tell when dreaming. Eli so little, he barely reaches light switch. Me: “See? The lights don’t work because electricity doesn’t exist here!” “Look at the books.. The letters are rolling around on the page!” Excitement growing, Eli and Zeke laughing/ running around the space with me. Get serious with Zeke, ask him if he is a dream character or if his awareness is here. He insists that he is with me. I’m super excited bc, under normal circumstances, when I break the illusion, the characters become hostile or unresponsive. I am convinced he is also dreaming this and lucid somehow. (second time this has happened)
Want to teach Zeke how to control. There is running water (out of a hose?) water is running upward in slow droplets.. Strange. I show him how to change the running water into a glass of water. I am mentally willing a pint glass but a little tumbler glass shows up again and again. Zeke tries to make pint glass appear, and- of course- he does. I ask him why he can do it and I can’t… why he is better than/ smarter than me.. Always, and with no effort. Not angry, just ready for the real answer. We get into one of our real life convos about the fucking nature of things, loose track of dream awareness/ control.
Real life: Wake up to alarm (4am). First thought, “I should teach classes on lucid dreaming.” Second thought, “I should take classes on lucid dreaming.”
Real Life: all morning I have “ what do you plan to do with all your freedom?” in my head. 6 am walk along the river- Spider web with sun rise behind it- take stupid picture. picture shows no web- appears to be freely suspended. I remember the initial sensation of unexpectedly running my fingers along the metal webbing of the dream catcher. Couldn’t see it, only felt it, but sure it was the cue that it was time to wake up. Also: Zeke was not simultaneously dreaming my dream, he was a character in my dream, I gave him the power to make what he wanted, I decided he was “better than me.”
I am tempted to say that it’s hard to explain a non-physical injury to the random internet people and the fake friends of Facebook, but I don’t believe that is true these days. Maybe it is a function of my age, or a shift in social norms, but it feels acceptable to admit that mental health is not easy to obtain or maintain. The extent to which mental health reveals itself to be the foundation for physical health, is an important indicator that it is necessary to recognize when mental health is lacking. So yeah.. what I mean to say is; the status of my mental health is poor, to say the very least. Depression, anxiety, co-dependency, distorted self-image, self-sabotage, destructive and dangerous behavior… you name it, I’m working on it. This is why I run.
Sunday; the day of the infamous “Long Run.” Today I am 12 weeks out from this year’s Chicago Marathon. Today I was supposed to run 16 miles. Today, I am proud to say that I covered 8 miles for the first time in months. I use the word “covered” because it would be a gross overstatement to say that I ran.
This was going to be my year; I was going to cut 14 minutes from last year’s time, hit my target PR, then run the 2017 Boston Marathon, 6 days before my 35th birthday. I wanted to qualify while still in the 18-34 year old age group. The next age group gets an additional 5 minutes to compensate for their oldness, and I predicted that I would feel a greater sense of accomplishment hitting the more challenging mark. Obnoxious…I agree. Regardless, I envisioned this plan so clearly, there was no doubt in my mind that it would happen. Three days ago, while struggling to run four miles without walking, I stopped at the Buckingham Fountain, listened to the roar of the water, and admitted in silent confession, that I have completely failed in my training. It will be a miracle to find myself sitting beside this fountain, drinking my celebratory Goose Island beer with fellow finishers on October 9th. Once upon a time, marathon training built me up. This particular time, it is tearing me down.
For about two weeks, I have been considering deferment. Runners defer their registration to the following year when life bubbles up and prevents proper training. Typically, you find deferment where you find injuries; chronic knee/ankle/hip/back pain, sidelining stress fractures, persistent plantar fasciitis, menacing metatarsalagia, or spawn of Satan shin splints. Luckily, I have not experienced any problems on the physical level. In my ten years of consistent running, I have not encountered anything that presented me with physical pain (besides the many, many, many self-induced hangovers). My issues, my obstacles, my battles, in running and in life, have always resided in the realm of the mind.
At the end of the service, my sisters and I had many family members form a short line to offer condolences. With each hug, I received a compliment and a “thank you for the kind words” that I delivered. Even my brother-in-law’s father (who I always thought was a complete narcissist, falling all over himself on his police officer power trip) hugged me, with tears in his eyes, and said, “I’m very impressed, that was incredibly moving.” Most importantly, there was the woman at the end of the line; the one who reached for my hands and pulled me into her urgent embrace. Over my shoulder, she whispered in a raspy haste, audibly damning a river of tears, “You don’t know me, but I know you. I didn’t know your grandfather, but now I do. I came here this morning to pray for my grandchildren, and when I walked in, I heard your voice. I met your grandfather, through you.” Her whispering grew more intense, the subtle statement threatening to crack and transform into loud affirmation, “ I saw him up there with you” Her tears finally audible, she hissed slowly in my ear, “He. Is. With. You.”
You have all the money in the world. I have all the time in the world. Our paths will never cross.