I never have nightmares. Like, EVER. My dreams, if I remember them, usually consist of story lines like going to Walmart to buy loaf of bread. White bread. Not even interesting multi-grain bread. Whitey white white wonder bread.
Last night was different.
I got in late from a very stressful evening with my family. I tried to do some work, but I was exhausted. I somehow ended up in my bed. Somehow the lights ended up turned off. Somehow some blankets made it over me.
I had a dream that I was hired to shoot an event. It wasn’t a wedding, it wasn’t a bar mitzvah, it wasn’t a book signing… I am not sure what it was, really, but it seemed important. There was food, there was a wine tasting, there was a presentation of some kind, Somehow there were a few people there that vaguely knew, from the Fraternal Order Of The Rooster (the fraternity I belong to). There were some very cute girls there too. I just got kind of caught up in some presentation that was happening and before I knew it, I the event was almost over and I had not taken very many photos – like, very few. SO I started trying to bang out a few at the end, and my camera was acting really funny, seemed like my memory card was malfunctioning. I had been paid $700 to shoot this event and I was totally fucking it up between me just spacing off, wasting time listening to a presentation, meeting new people, and my memory card malfunctioning. Anyway, at some point as it was time to finally go, I became increasingly aware that I was naked, and that I was going to be riding my skateboard home. I wasn’t all that concerned about being naked until I saw one of my buddies and he started making jokes about seeing my asshole as I sat down on my skateboard to talk to him for a few minutes. I became a little bit self conscious. We chatted for a few then I continued home. Somehow, in this dream, “home” was my mom and dad’s house (though the locale in general was a morphed version of many cities, towns, buildings, etc). When I got there, a really cute girl from the event was out front, as if she was meandering her way home too. I chatted her up for a second and invited her in, unconcerned with my nakedness. Because I had forgotten to put my pants on when I left, I also did not have the house key. That was really embarrassing. I was totally regretting being naked at this point. Somehow I got in. I was about to climb through a window, but someone came to the back door. There were already other people inside. I didn’t know some of them, but I didn’t care. It seemed totally natural to just have strange random people chillin at my parent’s house. My parents were not there… just me, this girl, and some people I had never met, eating some turkey. Then suddenly, Gabe, one of the owners of the Complex, was there. He was like, “Hey, are you going to help us come clean up? We need to put some chairs away at the high school” (kind of like the way the elder’s quorum always puts the chairs away after a ward party) I remembered that I had kind of told him that I would. Oh, one other thing, while I was at that event, I sort of stumbled into a wine tasting class and SOMEHOW had gotten my hands on a bottle of very expensive merlot that was 2/3 full. I just kind of wandered off with it, only 1`/3 conscious of the fact that I was trying to steal it. Somehow the people in the class did not notice the naked dude with the skateboard and the camera pilfering their $275 bottle of merlot. I thought it was kind of odd,even a bit remarkable, that I was able to pull that off, considering a) that they needed it for the tasting class , and b) that I was naked. I tried some, it was unlike any merlot I’ve had before. I wanted to share it with some of the people I was hanging around with. We didn’t have any glasses. Good wine must always be consumed from a GOOD glass, as it affects the bouquet of the wine and the flavor development due to oxygen exposure. “Aw fuck it,”, I thought, and I just passed it around, each of us taking a swig straight off of the bottle. Aside from being uncouth, this is an abomination to drink wine of this quality in this manner. When I got home to my parent’s house I realized that I had left the merlot at the event, I was distraught about that. But more than anything, I had this feeling of dread, that I had TOTALLY dropped the ball in photographing this event. And that’s where I started waking up, feeling all kinds of anxiety about fucking up this photo shoot. It felt like I kept waking up from the dream, starting to become aware of reality, but then sliding back into sleep and re-entering the dream and the dread of the moment I was experiencing. This happened a few times. When I finally started becoming conscious to the point of being awake for the day, I had to keep reassuring myself that it was just a dream, that I had not messed up any shoots, that all my customers are happy, that I had not missed anything.
So anyway, for me, that’s a nightmare.
I finally made it out of bed at 1pm.
I made a failed attempt at my morning meditation. I just couldn’t find any inner peace. I was still trying to shake off the horribleness from last night. I finally let myself off the hook – “You don’t need to have any major spiritual revelations during meditation this morning. Just go make some breakfast, and process some photos today. Keep it simple. That’s all you need to do.”
I logged in and started my work day the way I always do – IMing my cousin Melissa. I recounted all of these events to her. We discussed my dream, my life, and the meaning of it all. I’ve been struggling with some questions of identity and marketing / presenting myself in the world. I want to live my life optimally – I want to fulfill my potential, and I also feel a spiritual calling to make my journey and the light I’ve found available to others. Here is one of my personal truths: If I have to go through pain, and I fail to share the lessons I have learned from it – that pain and suffering becomes a waste of life. If my experience can help even one person to transcend, or avoid suffering, then my pain and suffering will have been worth while.
When I first went through my divorce, I was shocked at how little support there was for guys like myself: Still trying to be active in the church, trying to be a good father to two beautiful little girls, trying to make sense of how my life went wrong, trying to understand how to heal myself and keep from having a supremely shitty life from here on out. At the time, there was NO information or support for single LDS dads like myself. Nothing but unspoken assumptions from people at church that I must have slept with my secretary. Nothing but shame, awkwardness, and implicit indictments that THIS is why I am now single. I mean, why else do you get a divorce? (for the record, my marriage ended for banal reasons. Mireesa and I were always faithful to each other) I decided that I was going to forge my own path. I determined that I would find my own way to thrive as a single LDS father, and that I’d write a book about it so that other guys in my situation would have some kind of support.
I had NO idea that this path would lead me to where I am today. This blog post is punctuation in the thought I had 7 years ago about writing that book.
Fast forward 7 years… I’ve experienced some crazy things. Some brilliant, some horrific. All of them have taught me great lessons. Now here’s the hard part: What parts of my life should I be sharing? How much of the picture do I share? I mean, there is some really personal shit, but if you filter some of that out, it also dims the full impact of the message. If you take one ingredient out of a recipe, it will change – or completely destroy – the outcome.
In the words of Jesus, according to Matthew chapter 5:
13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
That’s about what I’ve shared with the world so far. Would you like to have these cookies that I made for you? I included 85% of the ingredients that the recipe called for. I left out a few things. Not much. Just some nutmeg. Just the salt. You can get by without 15% of those ingredients, right?
Yeah. I know. The cookies taste like shit.
I’ve filtered some of the content from my blog… I am thinking that I need to open the flood gates and give more whole picture. I haven’t’ talked much about my dating experiences. I rarely bring up the fetish scene. My “safe” topics are pretty much religion, politics, my kids, and music. Blah. The truth is, I’m just kind of afraid to take the next step of candor.
God is in the details.
Total transparency is a huge commitment. If I write this stuff on the internet, it’s out there for the whole goddamn human race to see. That’s a fairly big stage, folks – and it scares me. I’m afraid to make that commitment. I’m afraid of the social / familial implications of writing with full candor. In my head, some crazy shit goes down. In my life – some even crazier shit goes down. I don’t think I have many readers on my blog – and it’s not because I don’t have compelling things to say… It’s because I’m not saying them.
Kind of like my dream of being naked. I’m about 85% ok with being naked… but it’s that 15% is typically the difference between unimportant and unforgettable.
I’m afraid – But, I feel called to do it.
Before you say, “Well, if you feel so strongly about it, just do it!”, please pull up a mirror and ask yourself the same thing. What are you doing with your 15%? Have you come to terms with it and shared your 15% gift with the world?
If you have, send me an email, I would love to hear your story.
Pass the salt, please.