Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dream to Dream

Kiana is not exactly a morning person… Okay she’s whatever the opposite of a morning person is. For such a happy kid she’s rather cranky and hard to get up. It’s usually some bout of “dad… why do you wake me up so early…?” Her faces in the morning, I’ve captured a few and if she ever starts dating those will be made into gigantic posters to put all over the house… In fact I set the alarm to snooze not to wake me up but to go back and check if she’s gotten up. A couple of days ago she made my day start with a bigger smile than usual when upon asking why she hadn’t gotten up, she said, “Well I had to finish a good dream.” While I tried to direct her that the best dreams were the ones you pursued after breakfast, I hope she never loses the attitude of pursuing dreams.

There are many different theories as to why we dream… some are more mystical or magical than others. The one I subscribe to is that it’s simply and somehow beautifully a psychological phenomenon that it is how the brain incorporates that day’s events into long term memory, a fact fairly confirmed that if you wake up people during dreams they are less likely to hold onto that day’s memories. People ask whether it’s my short term or long term memory that’s damaged… while there are some specific things like auditory memory damaged, the biggest issue is that there are some memories that never stay… which make me wonder how much of my own life I’m missing. With that said… well, daydreaming or night dreaming is a pretty good way to make memories.

It is why I’ve written this blog from the starter… because of hearing of someone else who lost memories through brain damage and well… if I have to hear this story from someone else, I want to hear it from me. Is this story, this blog true? I don’t know but it is what I remember. Or as someone perhaps more eloquently put it the past is just a story we tell ourselves.

But I’m still grateful Kiana dreams excellently after breakfast as well… She had one of riding her bike to school and that was fulfilled. And it is that idea of trying to echo living from dream to dream that I love. The line comes from a song that, by my current approach, got it wrong:

One day I'll fly away
Leave your love to yesterday
What more can your love do for me
When will love be through with me
Why live life from dream to dream
And dread the day
When dreaming ends

The day where dreaming ends will come... I won't stop for death as Emily Dickinson wrote but it will kindly stop for me. Death comes for certain… while there are those of us who believe in eternal life or karma, those things are at best unknown. I like to believe that they exist at some level… the first person who rode in my car was someone who was leaving the emergency room after an ambulance ride. Still haven’t taken anyone on a date in my car but if and when that comes I imagine it’ll feel pretty special. It’ll be one of those moments that are deep enough to dream in a million colors I have never seen.

I just got back from Tennessee where I had the chance to speak to CAUSE graduates. While I forget what the acronym stands for, it’s a program put together by Chattanooga state college where at risk high school students are selected to be working on being the first in their family to graduate from college and are getting college credit while in high school. This was the speech that intimidated me the most for a variety of reasons. High school students don’t/shouldn’t feign politeness (is this a good or bad thing about growing up?). This was actually the first time I’d gotten to travel to just speak to a crowd that was neither cancer or athletically related and the first time I spoke to high schooler. They just wanted me to talk about grit and endurance and keeping going. I said some of the things from the previous speeches but also told them past stories like when I took my brother out to eat after he graduated from high school to a classy restaurant called Hooters and lectured him for an hour and a half. I’m not sure either of us remember much of what I said but it seemed like not much more than “don’t drink and drive and safe sex.” I told them about how instead of the freshmen 15, I’d put on 35 showing I’d misunderstood what it took to be better rounded out in college. And I stole a line from a book, Supersurvivors that’s coming out next week in which I’m mentioned (http://publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-226785-6?fb_action_ids=10152483639038969&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210152483639038969%22%3A692170544177616%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210152483639038969%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D). The line I stole (I’d say borrowed but they got no credit) was that when life knocks you down, you shouldn’t bounce back but rather bounce forward.

There have been many reasons I feel privileged to get to go on trips to races and speaking events. It’s honestly beyond my wildest dreams that I’d ever be mentioned in a book much less expected to have anything to share to people running a race or  graduating from a program. It’s been a crazy ride and I never thought it would last this long and when it ends it ends but boy what a privilege. But… after the cancer thing happened and the divorce was finalized… I made a list of dreams and speaking at programs wasn't on that list. There were the smaller ones of achieving certain time goals in running (I’ve hit almost all of them, most of them more than once). There were some in regards to Kiana specifically but there was one about relationships in general about working on the ones you want to keep. And that was actually my favorite part of Tennessee and some of these other trips. Because there were people who flew in, drove in, came in to Texas and Duke when this all started to be there during hard times… And once I started to get my head more level and less emotional, I made a list of them and just tried to say to myself, we will hang out again, where cancer is less relevant. And the dreaming has continued to come true. Meals, card games, silliness where we see each other here down the road. While all my exes live in Texas, in Tennessee, the first night I was there I got to hang out and a meal with Gil, a friend from high school, Juliette a friend from College and Eric a friend from the Marshall Islands. I’ve gotten to have meals in San Diego with Keith and Shannon, in Sacramento with Steve, in San Francisco with Nicole, in Colorado with Leandro, New York with Alycia and all over Texas with friends here. I wish I could fund and take them all on trips… but somehow just having regular friendship time where it’s like old times in the new times. These are as good as my dreams gets. I get to return to California for a Spartan in two weeks and I’m excited about that but the two trips after that are to DC in July and Portland in August and those are with Kiana. Those are always the best trips. I thanked Amie James who let me into the marathon that has turned into all this and well… I often joke that I’m the richest broke man I know and that even with my memory problems, there isn’t a day I forget that. But the reason it matters to me, the biggest reasons is that Gil the last time we had sat and talked to each other was me after brain surgery. And he asked honestly if I remembered much of his stay with me at Duke and I really don’t. But this time in his home in Tennessee we were talking about his ski trips, and about our high school bell choir trips where I made fun of him because he played the little bells while I played the manly base bells (did I just admit in a public blog I was in a bell choice?!?).

Similar to those trips… some day to day dreams still come true most days. There are days where Kiana picks out square socks for me cause she’s wearing a dress with circles… the days where she decides to give me butterfly kisses since my Spartan cut has butterfly stiches… the days where for 5 de Mayo she dresses up in what grandma gave her… those dreams are sweeter than the headline or tv shows I’ve been mentioned in.

So while on the days I’m frustrated with my memory problems… (and in simple honest truth, if and when the time comes for all dreams to end I’ll both be heartbroken and relieved at some level), on days I wonder if things like taking Dulcinea to her chapel are anything more than quixotic impossible dreams…, well, I think everyone dreads the day when dreaming ends… but to me the question should be why not life life from dream to dream? I’m going to bed now… hopefully it’s a good dream while I’m out and a better one that I wake up to. And like Kiana wished, I hope I focus to finish the good dreams. 

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