How We Carry One Another

So, I have very crazy, involved, cinematic dreams. I am not one for dream interpretation or putting too much meaning into them, besides basic moods they generate. This is unimportant. Where I want to start is that I’ve also been sleeping a lot lately. The way my brain deals with stress is to just turn the fuck off and I have to sleep or lay quietly on my side staring at the wall for a time. It’s always been that way, but recent times have really made this not so desirable quality about my brain very very urgent and important and frequent, much to the chagrin of my partner and children, who don’t like me sleeping all day and then not sleeping at night. AGAIN, not why we’re here. 

So, not to bore you with the details of my dream, and trust me this is the quickest way to get to where we’re going, and fully comprehending that hearing about another’s very odd dream is much more exciting to the sharer than the listener, here’s a quick synopsis of the pertinent parts of my dream:

There was a family with many siblings, many generations, and great great wealth. They owned many businesses, both important and small, and had many vanity projects and charity projects and different ways of looking at the world. Some of the members of the family had abdicated their responsibility, let their more business driven or outspoken or “assholeish” members of the family make the decisions about the vast wealth, happy to live on the margins and excess. 

At a large family function, some of the irresponsible children began to talk about how they were uncomfortable with the way the family was handling the businesses, the charities, the vanity projects. They felt as though the intentions were bad and they decided to stage a coup of sorts. Some of the family listened to their arguments and were open to change, most of the family, the ones for whom the business itself, not the family, was most important, laughed at them, sneered at them, then grew angry with them. Decided they needed to leave the family if they didn’t have the right attitude, and cut them off.

The business family went back to their business, thinking the rebellion was put down. That they had shown their might and the irresponsible ones would either come crawling back or wither away. The irresponsible ones did just that.

Except for three. One older woman who ran a large, private school. One younger woman who wanted to be a dancer (and looked like Jessica Chastain?). And one young man who was quiet and cerebral and a little different and probably autistic now that I think about it. (He looked like Sterling K. Brown). 

The young woman and young man, who had been estranged from one another as well, because like I said this was a very very large family, both showed up at the school and, for their own reasons and in their own ways, decided to save the school. Because the older woman relative who ran it was a mess, and couldn’t figure out if it was a business or a charity and tried to treat it as both and neither and let her bossy business sister and her bleeding heart soft brother give her advice until the school was on verge of collapse. So the director, the Jessica Chastain daughter and the Sterling K. Brown son teamed up and decided to fix the school first, that they would not wither or crawl back but would make a stand and slowly but surely turn the family back to the way it was supposed to be. 

And after that meeting, the daughter and son left, and the son picked up the daughter and carried her down the street. And she looked at him and told him when he carried her she felt weightless. 

This is when I woke up and, listen, I know this all sounds like bullshit and people don’t have intricate cinematic dreams that when typed out are OBVIOUS MORALITY TALES, but fuck you, I do. There was other shit happening too, there was a pregnant woman from my high school and an old friend I haven’t talked to in too long teaching gymnastics, so this is just the streamlined version written in an OBVIOUS MORALITY TALE way. Fucking deal with it, and if you’re good and get to the end of this, I’ll also tell you about the weirdest fucking dream I’ve had recently that can be backed up as true because I immediately texted my bestie to let her know my brain was melting down.

ANYWAYS.

What woke me up and rattled around in my sleepy, confused mind, was the way the brother was going to respond. Or how my brain filled in the response to the observation. Or, you know, how my subconscious was trying to tell me to calm the fuck down about the rona. Pick your adventure. 

The moral of the story was this:

We choose how to carry our people. We can carry someone as if they are a burden – we don’t change our gait or our center of gravity, we let them know they are heavy, that we don’t want to do this, that we are not strong or they are too weak. We pile our weight on theirs, making their load twice as heavy, making them feel as though, by our carrying them, they must carry us with their gratitude. We don’t let them forget their role, their burdenhood, their obvious disruption and our obvious disgust at the help we give.

Or.

We can carry someone as if they are weightless. We shift our centers and lift with our knees and smile in their faces and protect them with our arms and support. We ask nothing from them, we say you are our joy to carry because you are my long lost sister and you look like Jessica Chastain and you want to be a dancer and we are going to change this world together. We put no effort into the carrying and all the effort into the lifting up. And in turn they become lighter and easier to bear, they somehow diminish their weight and our weight until a perfect balance is reached and we can run down this city street forever and fix this school so it runs as both a charity and a business and changes lives and we can turn our family around until we are as we should have always been.

A family. 

Now, I know this is probably just weird flimflam from a not so sane mind in not so sane times. But I woke up and felt a panic that this was important and I needed this lesson in my life and, I don’t fucking know, maybe you do too. Maybe it was just weird Jessica Chastain/Sterling K. Brown fanfiction. Maybe I need to start watching Succession? I think we are right to be scared and right to be angry at the power structures that exist that are incompetent or actively profiting off of misery.

I think that staring at the wall is perfectly used time when needed and also that I wish I had more resources and could help more people. I know that I’m failing my family and my community when I sleep through meal times and spend my waking minutes anxiety sweating and sharing bleak memes on Instagram. I wish I was something other than a person with weird, involved, highly complex and cinematic dreams. 

But, well, I’m me, so I’m doing what I can. Take this as it comes, read too deeply into it or dismiss it, I hope it means something to you the way it meant something to me, that it can be a balm and a starting point and a moment of hope before reality comes crashing back in with its shortages and panic and rage. 

And, maybe if it is, you can share it with others and let them know you are ready to try to carry them as a joy and not a burden. That maybe if enough of us start to think that way about our families and friends and neighbors and strangers, maybe the world will somehow defy physics and become a lighter place. Because, goddammit, we need to be better. All of us. 

(And now for the crazy dream, if you wish:

 

I was at a large unknown university, and it was the night before it was shutting down for the virus, and I had taken a class and was walking to my car and couldn’t find it and was wandering and wandering and I looked down at the sidewalk and there was a tropical fish dying. Oh no! I looked up and realized I was standing under an aquarium skyway thing. And the fish were escaping. And as I tried to gather up the dying fish and find someone to help, I rounded the corner and a walrus [upon waking and relaying the story to my uninterested husband, realized was actually a giant otter because of its small bitey teeth and claws], jumped up, managed to encircle my waist and dig the fuck in. I start screaming, because it hurt and what the fuck else do you do when you’ve a walrus attached to you?? So, some experts come and try and get the walrus [giant otter] off me, but can’t and the more they try, the more the walrus [giant otter] digs in verrrry painfully, so we decide to leave it until 10 the next morning. And so I’m back to wandering the campus, looking for my car, with my arms akimbo because I don’t want to set them on the walrus [giant otter] who has for now calmed down and seems to be content as my marine mammal belt. Who do I bump into? CHRIS HAYES OF MSNBC. And he is blown away by my latest accessory and we have a good laugh at my predicament when I’m not screaming at my predicament and he’s like, oh man, you’re going live on MSNBC now, I’m getting a camera crew here and we’re going to interview you because this is wild. And I’m like, Chris Hayes! Don’t you dare!! I canNOT spend my life as the walrus waist woman!! And now I’m panicking about the walrus [giant otter] AND about being on TV and I STILL can’t find my car and this is typically what my dreams are like, surreal and stressful. So there. You’re welcome.)

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