I had a dream a while back that won’t let me forget it.
Truth is, I’ve been running from it. It was one of those vivid disturbing dreams, and for no apparent reason other than its scary lifelikeness in smashing technicolor. The brightness of the whole thing is its strongest impression, even these several weeks that have passed.
A lamp can’t light a room under a bushel.
But I’ve been thinking about the gift of anxiety and how accepting it as a gift prevents it turning into its destructive form, the deeper anxiety of hopelessness that leads to fighting for control and closing off the open channel.
A little anxiety about the difficult complexities of life is a true God-given gift. It produces faith. But experiencing it and forgetting it’s meant to be turned to trust in God, that isn’t productive. It’s what you do with it that matters. And turned inward, it’s destructive of everything good within us.
Editors spend oodles of time reading. These days, that’s mostly on a computer. Each year, it’s gotten successively more computerized, until now I barely unplug for meals. And now, to top it off, I’m freelance, so I have my meals brought to me and I only get up a couple times to walk 5 steps to the bathroom.
And this is what I’m anxious about: the world, to me, it seems to be running out of time.
I could be imagining it. It could be just a brain fart, a false impression of too much time at the technological trough. It could be one more pernicious lie of our age to keep us self-focused and myopic. But it seems the more the online world grows, the less time any of us has. Places that used to be quiet aren’t quiet anymore. Things that we used to have time for—writing, reading, thinking, conversing with neighbors—they’ve become impossible. Things that once took time—publishing books, creating new businesses, getting specialized information and translating it into new ideas—have become too fast to keep up with.
Any wonder we’re increasingly impatient (if love is patient what does that make impatience?). We seem to know too much about too many things and not enough about any of them. The constant barrage of information and analysis feels vitally important, at least in some way, we think.
Everything is speeding up. And I’m anxious about being trampled in the stampede.
So in this dream I had I was with a group of people that wasn’t my family but they were. They were my adopted family. We were carving a road out of the dry dust, driving through a hot desert to visit some people I’d never met before. The car had no roof and we were excited to be doing this, helping these people who lived out here so far from civilization.
When we got there, we piled out and the house was made of clapboard and barely holding together. I didn’t know what I could possibly do to help, but I knew this was no long-term solution. It would require some fundamental changes to become livable. But the family there didn’t seem aware or interested in changing anything.
They were too busy going about their stir-crazy lives.
I felt so defeated and impotent. Here we’d come such a long way with energy and resources to help, and there was no way to even talk to them, so unreachable they were in their closed-off state. They were out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing to connect them to the real world.
We all seem to sense we’re missing something crucial. But what is it? And where do we look for it? And why, if we have everything we could possibly want, are we still so anxious?
We don’t have everything we need. Obviously. But it’s not clear what’s missing.
A young boy in the dream had something in his hand and he kept it protected from his family. A mysterious object that no one knew about. I never got a look at it, but he seemed willing to share if I proved I’d keep the secret.
We’re anxious for something. Something we can’t find a name for. Or maybe we don’t dare.
I never saw what it was.
But I don’t think that means I never will.
And I’m wondering if maybe all we have to do is want it badly enough…to dare.