Dreaming of the past and the future

"A connection between past and future"
Photo credit: gioiadeantoniis

The dreams keep coming. In them, people from my past filter through modern scenes – high school classmates, estranged family members, ex-boyfriends. Some meetings are awkward, some are familiar and comforting, some are wishful thinking. But almost every night for the last week, visions of my previous life have visited my dreams, making my days full of reflection and curiosity.

It’s not the first time this has happened, but why so much all at once? I suppose it’s fitting in this sabbatical I’ve been on for the last three months and counting. It fits right in with my only somewhat newly rekindled relationship with my grandparents that I hadn’t regularly spoken to or seen in more than 10 years. Or emails I’ve received from other relationships gone dry for various reasons throughout time. Or maybe because like they say, the past can be the key to your future?

For me, my past and the memories that go with it have always been a huge part of who I am. I review old diary entries, pull out photo albums again and again, and read letters and cards from loved ones that I first received years ago. A lot of what’s in my past, and who is in my past, have led to decisions I’ve made as an adult – some good, some bad. I’ve let my past run me over, and I’ve let my past remind me of what could be different in my present and my future. And like many others, I sometimes revisit my past when I shouldn’t, even though I know it will hurt me, again.

But more and more these days, I’m realizing that there’s a way to get closure with your past that doesn’t have to involve tears or fights or disappointment. And again, maybe because of this transition phase I’ve been in, I’ve given a lot more thought to who and what from my past I want to include in my life moving forward. Even if I decide that someone doesn’t necessarily need to play a role like they once did, I’ve found ways to acknowledge them and their impact on my life in a way that provides meaning to me, and makes me feel good about it, and I think and hope, for them.

But just because people appear in my dreams, doesn’t mean I’m compelled to reach out to them and reconnect. Sometimes, it just means I’m thinking about them and wish them well, or I am remembering happier times. And I know that as I continue to take the next steps in this journey I’m on, wherever I go, whatever I do, there will be even more people that are in my present life now that will end up in my past. That part I’m still a little worried about, because even now, it’s tough dealing with a loss of connection with friends I just left behind in DC a few months ago. But that’s what comes with moving and life changes of course. Perhaps they’ll be appearing in my dreams in the year to come.

This is a test

Just when you think you have it all figured out, it hits you upside the head: It’s not just my boyfriend that’s worried about the future – it’s me, too. Me, who I thought was ready for the next big thing, ready to say all my fears were behind me, ready to move forward. And then, I realize, I’m scared, too.

The next few months will be challenging ones as the bf graduates from law school next week, takes the bar two months later, and continues looking for jobs and moves out here to be with me in the fall. And all this time, I’ve been focused on dates. What day are you moving here? Tell me WHEN are you here? And I’ve been worried about what happens next. We move in together, then what? What if he gets a job back in Ohio? What if he doesn’t? Is it all perfect and wonderful and that’s the end? Do we practice for a little while to make sure it’s the right thing?

I was reminded by my dad that there is no test to figure out if something is 100%. I’ll never be able to pinpoint to one action or day that makes me say, “Aha! This is all going to work out into a happy ending. All our troubles are behind us.” So with that being said, we have to learn to be okay with the 90%, or 85%, or even 99%, because that’s what life and relationships are about. NOT knowing the exact future, NOT knowing what troubles, challenges, or opportunities lie ahead – but being confident that it can be worked through, and if it doesn’t work…that that’s okay too.

I realized that I wasn’t truly testing my bf, but I’ve been testing myself. I’ve been waiting to get to that moment when I feel absolutely sure that I won’t be alone, that I won’t be disappointed, that I won’t be hurt. The truth is that we’re going to get let down, and hurt, and disappointed. But it doesn’t  mean I should set myself up for it, by preparing to the very minute details, by throwing my test of myself onto others. It’s not fair to them or me.

When we think about things that scare us about the future, it can be any number of things: financial security, job security, not knowing what job is right for you, being abandoned, having some tragic incident befall us. But there’s only so much we can do to prepare for those things. We can hope and wish and pray and save and plan and make lists, but so much of is it truly about running on faith – in yourself, and in others. And I don’t mean faith in the religious way – I mean trust and confidence, and really believing what someone is telling you and what they’re doing if they’re not giving you any reason not to. And it also means having faith that if something doesn’t go well, that there’s still a way out of that, too. You just don’t know it, so it’s scary.

For the past eight months, I’ve spent a lot of time debating what is the next step in my career, trying to figure out where I would be okay moving to, and looking for signals that things AREN’T going to work. But now, I know that I’ve been working against myself – and I’ll never get an A+ if I keep on this same road. So my goal for myself for the next few months is to look for the things that ARE working, to widen my options, and to stop trying to get to 100% – because when I do, it will be that much more worth it.

Lions, tigers, bears…and the future?

I’m on quite a delay from my last post, and I thought that it was apropos to write while watching one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz. Strangely enough, this movie is one of the constants in my life. As a child, I remember watching it when a hurricane hit in Louisiana, when I saw my first snowfall (again in Louisiana), and as I’ve grown older, many lazy, rainy afternoons or evenings when I needed something comforting and familiar. No matter what I’m thinking about or preparing for, I can stop and watch Dorothy and her trio of friends face the unknown and scary, and smile at the simplicity and magic of the story.

As some of you might know, I recently traveled to Germany on vacation for a week. The trip had a dual purpose – to visit Mom while she was there on business, and to get myself the heck out of dodge for a while. I hadn’t been on an extended vacation in quite some time, and I also hadn’t been to a place other than Ohio, Syracuse, or Louisiana in several years either, so this was something I was looking forward to for months. The ultimate goal was to go there and not think about work, or my boyfriend, or the lions, tigers, and bears that the future holds. It’s unrealistic to believe that I would NEVER think about any of those things while I was away, but I do feel that I was able to step away from most of that while I was away, and now that I’ve returned, I have a bit of a new perspective on what lies ahead, but more importantly, on what is happening now in my life.

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