Saturday, August 16, 2014

Who Was In My Weird Dream the Other Night

Over on the Legion World message board, one of the recurring threads is "Who the heck was in your weird dream last night?" People often post funny or bizarre dreams. The thread prompted me to post the following dream, which I had the morning after Robin Williams' apparent suicide.

I dreamed I ran into two guys I knew during my freshman year in high school.

I hung out with Randy and Jim between classes. I had known Randy since kindergarten and met Jim through Randy. They were both in ROTC; neither Rodney (the fourth guy who occasionally hung out with us) nor I were.

In high school, I had a lot of problems. I was the kid everyone picked on, or so it seemed. It got so bad that I stopped going to school. My mother (bless her) persuaded the school to send a teacher to our house (we lived only a block away) to drop off and collect my assignments. That's how I passed. The next year, I went to a different school.

Because I was taught (as was my mother) to be ashamed of any personal problems I was having, I never told Randy, Jim, or Rodney what was happening. I just disappeared from their lives. I was actually afraid of running into them in the town where we lived in case I'd have to explain what happened.

I saw Randy and Jim separately a couple of times afterwards. Randy worked in a local restaurant. Jim dated the sister of one of my brother's friends. Neither ever asked me what had happened. I didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

In the dream, I was walking through a cobblestone path when someone called to me. It was Randy. He looked the same as he did then, with the same bowl-shaped haircut. Jim came and joined us; he looked older, with grey hair. I got a chance to explain to them what I wrote above, about what I was going through and why I disappeared from school. Both told me they didn't know I was being picked on and were hurt by my disappearance; I had no idea.

In the wake of Robin Williams' apparent suicide, it's easy to forget, when we are in pain, that we are not alone. One of the worst lies the world tells us is that no one will understand and that our friends will judge us if we admit our weaknesses. Such lies keep us from intimacy, keep us from the truth, and ultimately keep us from ourselves.

I last saw these guys around 1978, just about the time Williams was ascending to stardom in Mork & Mindy. It's amazing to think that Williams' life and mine are intertwined and that there may be some sort of spiritual cause and effect: his death may have inspired my dream in some way. In doing so, it unearthed a lot of buried feelings and thoughts.

There is nothing good about suicide. But one thing we human beings do is take the worst and grow something positive from it. Williams' death prompted at least one Facebook friend to admit that she had once tried to commit suicide. There has been an outpouring of grief and understanding from others (and, admittedly, the odd wacko theorist). This sort of openness is helpful and healing. It helps us make sense of who we are.

Thanks, Robin, for sharing your life and your amazing talent with us. And thank you, Randy, Jim, and Rodney, for being my friends, wherever you are.

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