I rarely write about my dreams in this blog, but I had one last week that was so difficult, and compelling, and applicable to writing that I thought I would share it with you.
I recently took my son on a series of college tours, and when we got back home, I was exhausted. I crawled into bed, and fell deeply asleep. In my dream, I was a college freshman. I showed up at my dorm, and it was super crappy. I mean it looked like a Soviet Block Apartment complex. Gray, blocky, cold. Plus, it was dirty. Really really dirty, with cobwebs and trash everywhere. I was like, “Wow, I guess this is my dorm.”
As I was unpacking my stuff and attempting to dust off some of the spiderwebs, an RA came down the hall and poked his head in my door. He said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to be here.” He rifled through some papers, “Yeah, you’re assigned to this other dorm.” He gave me a sheet of paper with the address. I left my stuff in boxes and went to check out the new place.
When I arrived, I was stunned. It was a five star hotel. The concierge was gorgeous (she looked eerily like Sophie Alekan in the AMC series THE NIGHT MANAGER), and greeted me with a smile. I gave her the sheet of paper the RA had handed me and she looked through her clipboard. While she was checking, I saw that there was a fancy restaurant behind her. People were eating steaks, and drinking wine, and a Chef, in a tall white hat, walked through the kitchen carrying a flaming skewer of shrimp.
The concierge confirmed that I was assigned to this dorm. She smiled, “You’re in room 215.”
Thrilled, I went to go check it out.
The halls were brightly lit, the carpeting thick and luxurious, and the place smelled like money (rose petals plus champagne.) I walked hallway after hallway, but couldn’t find room 215. Frustrated, I took the elevator down to the lobby, and went methodically upward, checking each floor, each room.
No number 215.
I didn’t know what to do. I was assigned to this dorm, but I couldn’t find my room. I started to believe there had been a mistake. I thought, “Wow, I guess I have to go back to the crappy dorm.”
Then I woke up.
Now, I haven’t studied Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell for nothing. I knew what this dream was about. It was about me not believing that I deserved to be in the five star hotel, and that I truly belonged in the shitty dorm.
How does this dream apply to writing? IN SO MANY WAYS! As writers, where our creativity and productivity are tied to our faith in ourselves, it’s easy to get sidetracked, and stop writing, and go back to the crappy place we feel we are “assigned.” We forget about the beautiful “hotel” we aspire to, where we are free and can express our deepest hearts. There’s a room for us there, but we actually have to create it, take action every day to bring it to life. Inside that room is creative freedom, and space, and our authentic selves.
The crappy dorm is the place where we retreat when we’re afraid and don’t believe that what we want is possible.
Here’s the thing. That cruddy dorm has its appeal. It’s safe there. It’s quiet. Yeah, there are cobwebs and trash, and everyone looks miserable, but there are no expectations. You could live your life there. There’s lots of slogging, doing things you hate, and martyrdom. But there’s also no risk.
I was so happy I woke myself up before the pull of going back to that cement block trapped me. And later that day, thinking about my dream, I decided to CHECK IN to that hotel. Even though I didn’t exactly know where my room was yet.
Take Action! Are you hanging out in the crappy dorm, believing this is all you’re entitled to? Do you tell yourself to be happy with the crumbs of working half-assedly on your writing projects? Do you stare longingly at others who live in the fancy hotel? Could you put in the time and energy needed to manifest that room and make it happen?
If you believe you belong in the five star palace, you will start taking action to make these surroundings appear. If you believe you can never escape the crappy dorm, you will take action that ensures you stay there.
Each day, you get to choose.
So which is it? Cobwebs or shrimp skewers?
Which room will you stay in?
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