Vivid dreams and gratitude

Ever since I was a child I’ve had insanely vivid dreams. I used to experience dream states while being awake. Even to this day my dreams feel like a part of my waking reality and their presence often changes my perspective during waking hours.

This night I had a particularly interesting dream. It’s origins were a bit hazy but I found myself exploring a large outdoor courtyard in the middle of a yard sale. This in itself doesn’t seem too particularly interesting but the yard sale was a collection of your run of the mill garage stored knick-knacks with bits of gadgets and technology hardware that seemed barely used.

The people at this yard sale were from various parts of my past. There was the Italian student and singer Laura Loriga whom I used to play music with. There was Carlos Franco who was a Spanish designer from Ness/IMANO that I first met when I joined the company. There were other characters from my visit to Japan, a mother whom I haven’t spoken to in 8 years but I still see pictures of her children on Instagram. All these people gathered for the yard sale but were floating in and out of a house I can best describe as always being half open to the outside while feeling as if you were truly inside.

There were parts of the dream where we were trying to chase down a flying weather balloon of sorts to ultimately place as an item in the yard sale. We were attempting to wheel in a miniaturized space shuttle to also sell. There were some interesting struggles in trying to place all these items together and keep them from floating away according to some weird dream physics that ruled over the items in the yard.

The day slowly dwindled to night and I found myself huddled in a closed door bedroom with the group of people from the yard sale. At this point there are two things that happen in the dream that have direct correlation to my current life and woke me up thinking completely different about my situation.

The first is a phone call from someone that I don’t know. Laura is singing quietly in the corner of the room listening to something on iPhone earbuds but calls over Carlos (the two never knew each or met in real life but they shared similar mannerisms). They are listening intently to a voicemail and call me over to listen. I hear a muffled voice that is almost half crying and half laughing telling me they are so happy they found me and can’t wait to see me. I have no idea who this is. They go on to say that it’s been years since they’ve seen me but they haven’t stopped thinking of me.

To my surprise Laura was actually listening to this on my phone. I look down at it. It’s an iPhone matte black with a rainbow Apple logo on the back. I see from the voicemail there is a name already associated with the number. It says “Antonio” followed by a last name I can’t recall though I believe it was alliterative. This is a shock because I could not connect the voice or the name with any memory. I kept thinking “who is this person and how do I know them?”

Everyone in the room (whose faces closely mimic people both from my recent and distant past) look around puzzled at each other as I tell them about the voicemail. We all kind of laugh and shrug it off as if it were a hoax and go back into mixed conversations about nothing really in particular.

It’s at this point that quickly someone hushes everyone in the room. There was a moment in my past when a large group of dorm buddies were hot boxing my room and the RA knocked on the door. This moment had a similar feeling to that. Someone gestures to quickly lock the door so I did. We made motions of placing our fingers over our mouths to signal to each other to be quiet. We could hear rustling and lots of movement outside.

One of the people in the room seemed to get distracted by something they were looking at on their phone and got up, walked to the door and opened it. We all gasped in frustration since we were obviously hiding from whatever lurked outside.

At that moment a group of young children came running into the room, causing a ruckus and jumping on our laps or trying to engage us in play. We all seemed very annoyed by this. There is one particular boy who was playing way too rough with us and the other kids and I immediately got upset at him. I dragged him quite forcefully out of the room to present him to his mother and forced him to sit still on a nearby couch. I grabbed his arm rather harshly as he continued to mock me and pretend to play and I said something to the effect of “stop it of I will hurt you”.

It’s at this point in my dream that I really have to make a direct connection with my life. Raising my son who is now 21 weeks old has been a great challenge. He is often a bundle of smiles and laughs but this occurs intermittently between short fussy bouts of crying at any time of the day or night. His sleep patterns have been tough on us as he wakes every hour or so most nights with stretches of two to three hours of sleep at a time being uncommon (but much welcomed). This is what some call the four month sleep regression and it’s kind of been kicking our butts.

I do not deal with emotional or physical stress particularly well and I have taken on the responsibilities of being a parent with a great mix of feelings. Some of these are extremely positive and some are extremely negative. I have been at many points in the day and night upset, frustrated, overwhelmed — these emotions sometimes cause me to say things in a harsher language, tone and volume than is necessary for dealing with a small infant. This is upsetting to my wife and child and weighs heavily on my heart. I have turned to meditation as means of calming myself so that I can be a more patient and understanding father and husband who is less likely to get angry. Becoming a more mindful and peaceful person is a work in progress and likely to continue as my son grows and the challenges with being a parent continues to evolve.

Back in the dream I get a call yet again as I’m scolding the child on the couch. It is “Antonio” from before. He tells me he his on his way and that he can’t wait to see me. I now start to recall in my dream memory the details of this person. Antonio is a quadriplegic that I met while on tour with my band. He had taken a fondness to me that bordered on fraternal love and obsession. I feel a kind of rush of emotions at this knowing that his coming to see me must be very difficult for him to do and is likely a big deal for him. I don’t know how I should feel or react to his arrival. It’s a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

I see his van pull up and a caretaker step out. They put a ramp up the front stairs and wheel him out from the side of the van and up the stairs. I see his face and instantly he looks shocked. He remarks at how I’ve lost so much weight (I have lost 50lbs this last year) and that I look so happy. This brings tears to both our eyes. He holds out his hand (the only appendage he seems to be able to move slightly) and I instantly grab it. I ask him how much longer he has and he tells me not very long. Someone else in the room begins to play a few notes on a keyboard that sound familiar to The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” and I break into song singing words of gratitude for the moment I get to spend with this long lost friend.

It’s at this point in the night that I am woken by my son crying. Just an hour earlier I was cursing at his wails, thinking “what is his problem, why won’t he sleep”. But this time I instantly get up and walk over to him. I am instantly grateful to be able to hold him, to be able to walk back and forth in the room soothing him over my shoulder. In my mind I am thinking of the dream, of the long lost quadriplegic friend, how strong their desire was to spend a few of their last moments with me. I also think about the child I scolded and grabbed harshly and feel ashamed of the anger I felt in the dream. I am grateful that I have that chance and ability to hold my son and feel his limbs wiggle in my loving embrace. It shouldn’t matter if this is at 1:20AM or PM — I should always be thankful for the opportunity to be a loving and caring father and spend whatever moments I can with him and do whatever I can to soothe him as he is experiencing the turmoil of his evolving perception of the world around him.

I was not able to go back to sleep without writing this down. This is mostly because I feel that the message of the dream was profound and I didn’t want to lose my grasp on the images and feelings from that.

This may seem rather silly or childish but I do think that my dreams are often a reflection of the inner workings and a process of reconciliation of my mind, heart and soul. My emotions and inner thoughts are exposed back to me in odd dream scenario saccades that mimic a mixed reality of past and present. This imagery causes me to reflect upon my current waking feelings and actions and often can directly alter the way I experience everyday life.

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Designing for Rocket Scientists at NASA JPL

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