Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Man with The Box of Dreams

He was holding a container of files. A cardboard contraption with manila folders suspended from the usual wire hangers with colorful tabs sticking up and out from each one. The entire box of files was attached - as if it were an organ growing outside his body - to his right side.

He sat in front of me,  wanting me to notice them, eager to discuss them, impatient, this handsome mystery man.  Who was he? I met him inside the walls of a dark and frantic dream. Someone who came running inside my head in the middle of the middle of the night, damaging my psyche, making me breathless. Making me question everything I'd ever known.   
"So what..." I asked him, "is all of this scribbling madness attached to you? 
"It IS you," said he. "All of you."

It had been one of those dreams. The kind that takes you on a journey through many years, explosive twists and turns, predictable and unpredictable, sacred and selfish, sensual, loving, and....well...terrifying. There was a woman. She and I were compadres of sorts and I was there to help her discover something. Help her find something. Only halfway through the tangled web of chasing people in cars, opening and slamming door after door after door in city after city, did I realize we weren't trying to help her; she was trying to help me

We finally found ourselves in a small dark apartment, hiding from who we thought was the bad guy - the man with the briefcase, file folders and large hat - who quickly became my lover and long-lost friend all at once, perhaps - one never knows in these seedy dark places - in another life, certainly in another dimension - this one.

The woman began to speak to him in knowing tones as if they'd met before and he began to take his leave of me. How do you know each other? I asked. We've been running forever...and...and...then it was clear to me that he, and he alone, was my protector. Not the woman. Not even myself. 
But he..... 
and the appendage marked "MIMI's LIFE" in childlike scribble gathered in paper chapters and separated by decade labels. Who does he think he is carrying my personal personals around like that? I don't share my journals with just anyone you know (said the very public blogger...) but back to the semi-dream-semi-awake crisis I'm in the middle of right now....
On top of a very tall dresser was a large quantity of stolen cash, spilling from her overstuffed flowery purse, drawing me to it, causing me to understand instantly that she had been a thief all along. Running in and out of valleys and vales with me, 'cross mountains and streams, in dives and sanctuaries, searching for something or someone, always, always searching. The one I had been trusting and chasing was the one I should have been afraid of. And he - my lone salvation - was there to abscond with such nonsense, expose the truth and retrieve the money, so that justice could be served. So that I could be saved. My hero. 

Except there were these files you see....
Attached as if surgically implanted to his side
And he couldn't leave until I'd examined them
All of them
He insisted.

 I was afraid of them.
Disturbed by them - even more so than the woman's betrayal. My heart pounded at such a rate I couldn't breathe as I looked at them. They were bulging with information, pulsating with a familiar energy I recognized, and yet, didn't recognize.

It was not lost on my faculties, even in the midst of deep sleep, that my physical struggles at the moment are right-sided in nature like Paul's famous thorn in the side; of course, it's possible the very real pain in my side was interrupting my sleep and caused this prophetic/chaotic storyline of people-chasing mazes. However, truth-seeking in dark whispery apartment rooms with criminal women soon turned to annoyingly familiar words out of nowhere.  The box - it seemed - began to speak to me through the man. 

He said, "This box holds every piece of your life. Every letter you ever wrote or meant to write. Every single point of the pen you saved for "later", everything you meant to do, everything you did do, all that you ever were and all that you will ever be. It's all here. Sheet by vulnerable sheet."

"But what does it all mean?" I asked. "And why do you have it?"

"I have it," he said, "because it is causing you pain. And I am waiting for you to ask the right question before I take my leave and let you finish your work here freely, for it is not an explanation and summary of a life you need, or a reason for every path you chose, nor is it necessary for me to answer you. You, Mimi, YOU must find the right question this time. The question will become your answer.
You know what it is. I am waiting to hear it."

Ever since I was a little girl hiding in my bed and writing in my diary, I've had one fear and one fear alone: that I would get to the end of my life and it would have meant nothing. I didn't want to look back in my old age and say, what have I done with my life? I had have such a serious side. My Barbies didn't understand why I couldn't just "play" and stop ruminating so much. They're still wondering to this day.

I looked at the files. Sitting in silence.
I was archived to his right side.
As if they breathed on both of us. Not a word could be erased. Not a deed undone. Nor was that the purpose. The purpose was what had it meant

So I asked him, gingerly, quietly, in fear and much trepidation, "Is it possible for a person to live their whole life, an entire lifetime, feeling as though they only existed for the good of someone else? Has my life been only sacrificial scraps of paper in boxes and boxes chained to what?"
Oh, but he could not answer.

Why were my words chained in the first place?  Why was he holding them hostage? Which one of us held the key to that box? Which ones of us needed it most?
I hated that box.
And it was perfectly clear by this point that he was no stranger.

 I was frustrated to know that my painful memories housed in the only way I knew to express them - to write them down - was also the source of his bondage. And suddenly I wanted him to be free! To abscond with the thieving woman and leave me with my words and my unanswered question. Even if it meant not knowing. Even if it meant he would have to leave with my whole life strapped to his side like a box of puzzle pieces only I would ever solve, a box of words that meant nothing to a messenger and my whole eternity to me. I did not want to hurt this man I loved.

Then his eyes began to soften when he heard my heart.
And I knew him.
He was there for my good, not his, only mine and in his eyes I saw a longing for me to discover the question I needed to ask myself. Because he knew I would be free of what was holding me back. And I just wanted the many failings and imperfections I had throughout my life's story to stop affecting him. I didn't want this rib-bound human closer than Adam was to Eve to suffer on my account. After all, it was my life attached to his, not the other way around. 

And there he sat. With a life's worth of files. How long had he been carrying me this way? Deep down in the soul of my heart I knew who he was. It was no mystery. He was attached to me in ways only I could understand. I was attached to him in ways I didn't want to understand.
Yet he had appeared - in my dream or was it real? - to insist that I ask the question.

He knew me so well. Every scrap contained the muse written or unwritten. I  knew every day and every hour described in that box. I sensed every joy and every sorrow. And to my horror realized, that so did he. 
There comes a day in everyone's life when you realize that every single thing you did and said from day one through eternity's ending has and will affect not only those you love dearly but the world, the universe, the planet. And that you must not leave even one letter of your story untold nor your heart words unsaid. 
The metaphor for my life was that box.
Which he tenderly held
even while it caused him pain to do so

Those are the ones you let go
and those are the ones you keep

My own mortality is on my mind these days, in waking and now non-waking states. I've lost four friends in four months and I'm tired of grieving regrets and burying would-have-beens. Perhaps that's why I'm sleepwalking of late. And now sleep-running in dreams with strange men with strange attachments in strange places not strange at all. 

 I had to get this right. The damned question. 
   With no promised answer. No promise of peace.  

He knew, oh, he knew...that questioning was the whole point.

"Is it possible," I restated and asked again, "that a person's whole life can be spent in the service of the wrong thing?"  Because you see...that had been my fear forever.  He looked at me with a knowing wink and a silent nod as if to say well maybe not their whole life.   He held the box close to his loin. To let me have a safe place to figure it out. To show me that sometimes love comes with sacrificial moments like this. To break through my stubbornness with his own. To help me realize that walking through the door of your destiny always requires the right question.

  Have I not prepared myself for this day? There is more to do. This is MY time! a voice screamed and yet I clearly see reams of life already lived in front of me in a box of files that breathe and have life, as if they were attached to him and me at the same time; one waiting for the other to let go so that he could fulfill his destiny and leave and one knowing full well the question she must ask but not wanting to because she is afraid of the unutterable answer she will write down in those endless notebooks. 

Afraid of words. Mimi Lenox, afraid of a box of words? That's like Poe being afraid of ravens or Hawthorne shunning brutal truth or birds settling for nursing homes instead of nesting homes. Birds afraid of flying. How absurd.

And what of the woman? She was a metaphor for the stealing of time. Life is full of chasing the wrong thing or being in the wrong place. My most precious asset - time. 

I looked at him once more. Sitting patiently holding my life to his loin, protecting it, loving it -  wanting me to love it too.
 There is one I need to let go.
And one I need to welcome with open arms and fiery candid words.

And suddenly I realized that there would be one huge difficult departure - for I love him so - and one huge homecoming. The departure would be his freedom. The homecoming my destiny.
Don't be afraid to love your story.
For those who hold it close will always come back to help you fly.

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Sherry Blue Sky said...

A wonderful, wonderful story, Mimi. I love the way you write. I hope the coming year is good to you. You deserve it. You do more good in the world than you know, with your stories and blogging for peace. You bring hope, and God knows we need it. Shine on!

Michelle said...

Beautiful, or as my one friend often uses... beauty-filled.


Mimi Lenox said...

Sherry - Thank you. I miss writing every day. Life is sooo busy for me but I'm about to fix that little problem.

Mimi Lenox said...

Michelle - I'm feeling very reflective at the end of this year... but more so feeling hopeful about the coming new year. Love you.

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