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January 29, 2011

I know I’m not the only sappy English major with a crush on E.M. Forster, but as a writing instructor, (now) blogger, frequent diary-keeper, happy reader, and nightly dreamer, I think it is important to remind ourselves why we do the things we do. I’m inspired by Bryan, who has a new post about connection-making.

About a week into January, I felt that old, familiar feeling of self-doubt. I wanted more friends. I was lonely. I wanted a new job. My talents were being wasted. I never did anything. I felt much the same as I had the summer I graduated with my MA in English: depressed, over-educated, under-experienced, and utterly useless. I watched commercials for two-year technical colleges and thought I might like to do that, because my other education had been a mistake. I had majored in something useless, and as a result, I had become a blob of uselessness.

So, I did what I had promised myself not to do: I made a few New Year’s Resolutions. First on the list: Be productive every day.

Previously, I would sit at home all morning, watching old episodes of TV shows online or stalking Facebook, then take a shower and go to work. I had totally stopped producing things: no crafts, no letters, no writing, no sewing. It was terrible. That’s where the idea for the blog came in. I’ve had a blog in one form or another for about ten years (angelfire! xanga! deadjournal! livejournal! blogger! wordpress!), but never thought to give it a theme beyond updating a few friends on my whereabouts, or complaining about upcoming papers (I have a 4-5 post series on my lj where I just give updates on the status of my senior thesis in 2006). So, when I thought about creating a new one, I knew it had to have an over-arching purpose. But what?

Pizza places and reviews. Wedding advice and tips. Pictures of stuff I crafted. Outfits I wore that day. Weight loss journeys and healthy living thoughts.

I’d get through usually 2 or 3 posts (sometimes more, sometimes less) before realizing that I only cared a little bit about diets, that I didn’t want to do research about weddings that weren’t mine, and that there is already a much better pizza review blog out there. Why reinvent the wheel? Instead, I thought about what I really liked doing. I really liked reading my dream journal to people. Like, a lot. It made people laugh, they were excited if they were in it, and whenever I shared it there was a sense of connection and completeness with my audience. People get dreams, because they dream, too. There’s a sense of release and relief in sharing something that is so often kept secret. It’s a single moment of sheer joy, when we allow our imaginations to meet each other.

“We do not admit that by collisions of this trivial sort the doors of heaven may be shaken open,” wrote Forster, of a single kiss that meant nothing and everything. “Our impulse to sneer, to forget, is at root a good one. We recognize that emotion is not enough, and that men and women are personalities capable of sustained relations, not mere opportunities for an electrical discharge. Yet we rate the impulse too highly.” The same can be said of sharing dreams, and really, of writing at all. I told my class two days ago that writing is about making connections between people. Two words cannot look at each other and understand. A person, with a mind and feelings and a bias, must write the word, and another person, with a different mind and feelings and biases, must read it. Without those two people, writing is nothing. And so, it is a thread that keeps us connected to each other, and reminds us of how important those moments of collision are. What is a dream but an electrical discharge? And yet the feelings of fear, shame, joy, or disappointment stay vivid, sometimes throughout an entire day. Denying the feelings is like denying your humanity, so might as well write something about it to make it count.

Sharing dreams is a way for me to be productive each day, and it’s a way for me to connect in ways I haven’t connected before. The doors of heaven sometimes shake open. Something has clicked.

P.S. Remind me to tell you about my Jesus dream.


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