Recently, my night-dreams have been a bit weird. I dreamt about a pregnant colleague having a beautiful baby girl….and then naming her daughter after my dog, Leia. I don’t hold out too much reality on that one. I recently had a horrific nightmare inspired by a student’s summary of Split. I won’t go into detail on that one.
By day, though, I am chasing dreams with a butterfly net. I’m running full tilt after these glimmering will-o-the-wisps and wildly swinging my net. Each rush of sieved air yields fragments and I stare at the flotsam and jetsam tangled in the net’s base.
I once caught a baby rabbit using a butterfly net. It cried for a moment while I cradled it in the palm of my hand. Maybe it recognized I had no ill intentions, that its tiny body held no culinary interest. But, based on my cul de sac’s cat population, I knew that the tiny rabbit had no chance if it thought my garden was a good hiding spot.
My children and I carried the rabbit as deep into the tiny woods behind our home as we could. Knowing that snakes also populated this area, we fretted that maybe we were only doing a dis-service to the poor animal. But we found a point that seemed relatively quiet, stomped around to drive away any lurking predators, and the gently settled the rabbit to the ground, let the net unfurl away from its captive.
In a Disney movie, the rabbit would have sniffed my hand, maybe given us bunny-kisses. In reality, the rabbit disappeared into the undergrowth.
I have been chasing dreams of being published without sending out submissions. Fears held me back and I regret this.
At the same time, I have been learning how to edit poetry (which is not the same thing as editing prose writing). In doing so, my writing strengthens, I find a solace in my lack of attempts.
I chase dreams of a half-marathon and my training run today was less than two miles. My stamina was frayed; the blotches of black ice on the road intimidating. I have not been eating the way a person training for long distance running needs to eat.
I have so many holes in my butterfly nets that my dreams could slide right through each gaping maw.
But in the last year, I have learned the art of reconciliation and forgiveness. And in doing so, I have been swapping out the wounded net for something more resilient, a more solid net that will still let the air pour through its veins but will help me capture the world in all its little pieces.
I am chasing a dream of learning. I am chasing a dream of travel. I am chasing a dream of trails dappled with sunlight. I am chasing a dream of size eight pants that might be just a little too big for me.
I am chasing a dream of words pouring out of me and falling onto the page and after long hours of painful editing, I will sit back and find satisfaction. No more twenty drafts or a decade of writing. I need to make peace with my written words.
I am chasing dreams of my son’s and daughter’s successes. But I also know to keep my pace slow, to follow the long skewed shadows that chase them. My children’s achievements must not be tarnished by my good intentions.
I chase the arc of the world, the bow string of the horizon. I chase the fluttering stars in their tantalizing stories of destiny caught, destiny lived, destiny beaten and won.
I chase everything with my butterfly net anchored to my shoulder, ready to swoop down and fill itself with gold dust, syllables, or the membranes of bubbles blowing behind me.