Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Funny Dream

I woke Sunday morning from a strange dream. In it I was speaking at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle. I wasn’t preaching or anything, but giving some kind of short presentation, announcement, or testimony; I was “sharing.” No biggie. But it’s a big church - a HUGE church. Although the place was still mostly empty I was already caught up in pre-performance adrenaline.

Then, at almost the last minute, I realized (remembered?) that I was also filling in as “guest organist.”

I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it was a dream!  

Feeling a touch of panic, I tried to reassure myself: It’s just hymns, isn’t it? I probably know them. Anyway, I can read music. Sure it’s been a while since I’ve touched an organ; but why shouldn’t it be fine, even with no rehearsal, as long as I can sight-read?  

Actually, my sight-reading is pretty bad … playing in public (even an instrument I know how to play) tends to freak me out … and my keyboard skills do not extend far beyond ‘Chopsticks’ and a two-part-harmony version of my high-school fight song. So it was pretty unlikely that this was going to work.  

My roommate Deb materialized at that point to assist and encourage (Yay, dream!). It turned out the first hymn was one I’d never heard before but she sang it softly and helped me see that I had the rhythm and intervals all wrong (“See, it’s actually ‘da DAH da da da d-dah.’”). 

Realizing I might be just about to make a fool of myself and a mess of the service, I woke up.

* * *

I believed a lot of things when I was a kid. Santa, the Easter Bunny, and especially the Tooth Fairy (I saw her once; her wing brushed my cheek. It was a precious moment.) I am cool with this; it’s all part of childhood.

But I was also raised to believe in myself, no matter what, and I’m not so sure I got that right. Parents and teachers encouraged me to believe I could do pretty much anything I decided I wanted to do. I read The Little Engine that Could, Free to Be You and Me, and later, a steady diet of stories about children who battled the forces of evil and saved humanity as we know it. And while I would have considered it quite arrogant, in the real world, to expect I was going to save humanity, I never doubted I could live whatever life I wanted to live and make the world a better place to be, to boot. 

This seems considerably better than growing up, as so many other kids do, hearing or thinking, “You can’t do it … You’re no good … you’ll never amount to anything.”  

I was never really in danger of NOT believing in myself. I suppose some people are. Maybe many or most. So, empowering people who are hopeless and helpless could be a huge need.

But the whole humanistic ideal and the American Dream are based on some half-truths, aren't they?

In my own life, I wonder if the reason I tend to have high standards for accomplishment and get so frustrated when I fail to meet them has to do with this long, deeply ingrained habit of believing I can (or should be able to) do anything.

Except maybe play the organ.


Megan Noel said...

wait, you saw the tooth fairy?
i would like some more information about that!

Marti said...

nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, I saw the tooth fairy and you did not!

Darcy Walters said...

This is great, Marti. You are a lovely writer. Remember those books we used to read where you could choose a different ending? Did you read those? I know Megan did with me and your blog reminded me of that. (ooooo. Watching a bald eagle circle around outside my window!) Also, thinking that was an interesting dream. Lovely and very different from my own! Thank you for sharing it, and your perspective. I'm in here searching to read more about your life in Uzbekistan and other world travels. Maybe I'll get there after I read all your other blogs :)