Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The things that make us who we are.

Did your subconscious know you before you consciously knew yourself fully?

My view of the topic of today's post is, like most, borne of personal experience, obviously.  My first memory in childhood, unsurprisingly for those that have known me any real amount of time, was seeing Star Wars at the theater opening day in May of 1977.  In that, I get to blame my parents for the way fiction impacted my life and twisted my head around the idea of space opera and speculative fiction in general.  Yay for me!  

The first "book" I ever wrote, was on WWII...oddly enough.  My father was always a big war film buff, John Wayne and all, The Longest Day being something he'd latch onto and watch like few other movies.   I was in my single digits then, and I remember stapling small pieces of carefully cut paper that I'd written out what I thought was important about the war, as much as a child wanting to share something with their father can at that age.

It actually wasn't long after that, I'm guessing, that I remember first  hearing my mother refer to how I was reacting in an emotionally evocative manner to certain things as "being melodramatic" and that sending a crack down my spine upon hearing her say it dismissively.  Now, to be sure, I know she never meant it maliciously or from any sort of knowing neglect.  She thought she had a baby boy and little boys weren't supposed to react to things like little girls, never mind that as a little girl, herself, she was as tomboy as a girl could be in the middle of the century.  Nevertheless, I never stopped having an emotional immediacy to how I interacted with the world, though age did give me the wisdom(?) to buffer that with rationality and in the case of immediate crisis...to throw up the shields and numbly work to best outcome/understanding of the situation.  I deal well with severe crisis...it's everything else that gets me most often.

Something I always enjoyed immensely was being in the garden with Mom as she tended her rock garden, or the flowers she planted along the fence-rows.  The activity itself was great, as were our discussions all through my life, but there's something there that I...even today...can't define that I feel myself clinging to...beyond my desire to keep memories of her alive.

The first dream I ever remembered, the first that had me seriously thinking about it for days afterward (as much as a pre-teen does/can), was one that I credit with my beginning to see the deeper nature of who I was as a person.  At the time I was both clinging to it like a raft in the ocean while also making myself feel humiliated because "that's not the sort of dream boys have". It was a recurring dream, at that, for years afterward.  

In it, I was in a mall in south St. Louis county, the JCPenney store in that mall to be exact.  Inside the store, facing out past what was the cosmetic and perfume counters, I would see on a slightly raised display, a phone booth. (No Bill and Ted jokes, this was years before).  There suddenly came a random influx of agitated, annoyed, unhappy people who, in order of appearance, would step into the booth, a light show and smoke would fill and emit from the booth, and they'd walk out the opposite gender from which they'd walked into it.  Men, women, boys and girls would all enter calmly. I would watch the proceedings, each person coming out seeming happier, smiling and as if they'd just woken up from a very restful sleep to continue on with their life like this was not any sort of odd occurrence.  I remember feeling like I DESPERATELY wanted to get into that booth, and upon feeling that I remember hearing a voice telling me that I wasn't allowed.  It was a sad voice, one I couldn't and can't place, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't make anyone hear my begging to be let in or even notice that I was there.  I couldn't approach the booth at all, only stand witness to it all.  The voice was joined by others that were more angry sounding, telling me that it was wrong for me to want that, that I was bad for wanting it, that it would hurt my family, that my friends would hate me, on and on.  End of dream.

The first nightmare I remember having (and that again, was a repeater) I had around the time I got into Junior High (grades 7-8 back then).  I was running, from sheer terror, through an endless version of the real woods behind my home.  It was a chase dream, someone pursuing me and shooting a handgun at me (my family was a target shooter family).  Neither of us ever spoke, and I would eventually be hit in one arm, then the opposite shoulder, then the meat of one thigh and then the calf of the other leg.  I'd eventually find myself hiding behind a large tree on a downhill slope leading to a creek, laying in wait for my pursuer, terrified and beginning to feel anger for the vicious attack against me.  For some reason, I had a small pocket knife (swiss army, to be precise) with me and I'd opened it as the only weapon I had with which to defend myself.  As he (and I'm sure it was a he) came began to come past the tree on my left, I remember screaming at the top of my lungs with all the rage and fear in me while coming from beneath him and repeatedly plunging the knife into his side, his neck, his chest, etc.  I was blind raging, knowing without any doubt that I was going to destroy this person...to end him with prejudice.  He would fall, I never seeing his face clearly, and then I would follow landing on my back against the tree with him off several feet down the hill and to one side, bleeding out together.  I'd slide down the tree, know I was probably dying, but after trying to regain my breath I would make my way onto my feet and slowly began to start back for my home...leaving him there.  End of nightmare.  I say it's a nightmare because I never would make it home.  I've always felt like I could very well have bled out in the woods along the way, but never had that part of the dream. 

What do these life details, feelings and dreams say about my life?  One, I can fairly readily follow to it's cause and meaning...another most likely explains/evidences the beginnings of my writing bent and yet another the ultimate choice of genre, another the emergence of a psychology that I could no longer glaze over or bury to hide from all around me...but what do they mean, really?  See, I can assign meanings to them, but that's from a purely subjective perspective...one I can't say is truth beyond my own considerations.  While I know that such things are ultimately for me to interpret and define, I, like most, feel the desire to see if there isn't any objective truth regarding these things and others in my life.  If they don't reflect something that I knew about myself before I "knew it"...or if they're evidential of parts of myself that I may have feelings about but haven't explored enough to have assurance that X is so.

Are we shaped so fundamentally that it takes our waking mind time to become aware of it?  This opens a course of discussion and thought that I wish I had the opportunity to have with people that really knew me today, and as my social circle has shrunken this last decade, I find myself opening to you.  My reader.  Part of why I put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) to begin with, regardless of what story I have to tell.

I'd really like your feedback!  Please like, share, follow and all the rest!  Talk with me about it, and then go talk with those you have around you about it.  It's a discussion I don't think we have enough in our lives, relatively and generally speaking.  Let's see about that.

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