Gratitudes, Musings

Exploring What it Means to Be Human


In the dream, I am giving a lecture to a group of prospective students and parents, and the moment they walk in for my presentation, I forget everything: what I was planning to say, what I am supposed to be talking about, why we are even here in this room.  I am in a complete and utter panic, so I just begin speaking about whatever comes to mind.  We always live in the context of our emotional lives, I tell them.  In the reactive world of daily existence, we don’t often remember to stop and examine what it means to be human.  We aren’t born with the training to step back and explore what it means to be creatures of emotion.  Stories give us that–they take us out of the auto-pilot realm of reactions and give us a slow and thoughtful opportunity to look at what it is to be human.  Like looking at insects held on a pin, literature lets us closely and carefully examine the human condition, and to reflect on ourselves as participants in the human condition.  That is why we study literature.

Not too bad for an on-the-fly, middle of the night dream lecture, though I am a little disturbed by the insect analogy.  I think in the dream I actually said skewered on a pin.  Yeesh.  Anyway, the people nodded and seemed to understand.

Gratitude List:
1. (What makes you curious?) How life-reality seeps into dream-reality.  How they inform each other.  How a dream can inform and settle anxieties: So often my anxiety dreams heighten my anxiety–last night’s dream resolved it.
2. (What is satisfying?) Words and related words: Solve and resolve and dissolve.  Image and magic and imagine.  (Occasionally my mind automatically anagrams words.  The other day, we sat at a restaurant table with a sign that seemed to read, “This table reserved for pirates of 6 or more.”  My mind had anagrammed parties to pirates.  I find this oddly satisfying–pirates and parties are now inextricably linked in my brain.  Like parental and paternal.  Like conversation and conservation.  Reverse-reserve. And the phonetic anagram chicken-kitchen.  Oy–I think I have just officially entered Summertime Brain.)
3. (What is a small thing of wonder?) That toad in the field.  Jon took the picture.  Toads please me, and make my heart happy.
4. (What was fun?) The big yard sale at Lebanon Valley Brethren Home yesterday, an annual event for the family.  Now we have to find a place for all the cords and electronics that one boy has collected, for all the new books, for the games and doodads.  It goes to a good cause, and the boys love it.  They interact with the residents who run the various areas of the sale, and they practice politeness.  I bought a museum-style book on the history of the alphabet and a collection of Whitman’s poetry and prose, along with two Kahlil Gibran books.  And I bought someone’s old cell phone, which I will use as a camera.
5. (What inspires you?) The fledglings standing on the edge of the nest, spreading their wings for first flight.  Today we graduate our seniors.  At Dedication last night, they already wore the aura of the adults they are becoming.  There was still plenty of silliness and bounciness, but it was held within the reverence and earnestness of this Moment of their lives.  Fly Well, Bright Ones!

May we walk, may we fly, in Beauty!

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