For the last three days, I've had one bizarre dream after another. The first was an argument with Brad Pitt; the second was me being a waiter for Robin Williams; and the third was my dad and I trying to make a naughty two year old behave.
I know each of these people are versions of myself. I know the pain associated with them are things I've covered up with the use of nicotine.
"I think the Brad Pitt and Robin Williams characters are reminders of when I began smoking. The fact that I didn't continue with acting when I wanted to so badly," I told my dad.
"Could be," he agreed.
"I also had a dream about M., my high school girlfriend. I think there was pain there too."
"Why did you break up with her? She was so nice."
"I don't know. I think it was because I was only 19, and didn't want to marry the first girl, you know?"
"It would have been perfect though."
"Yeah, maybe. Who knows?"
"You can still do the acting now."
"I'm too old now."
"You are young."
"Nah. I'm old."
I didn't have the dream about the two year old until last night. I assume that's me being upset at being disciplined or disciplining. That young me. That wild one.
Today when I woke up after the dream, I talked to So Gee on SKYPE. She was talking about family propriety in Korea and the expectations of children from in-laws. I told her that I would probably do everything wrong, and that I wouldn't even be able to speak Korean anyway.
"You said you were going to learn Korean!"
"I said that?"
"Yeah, you told my mom. She said she wanted you to learn Korean so you could talk to her, and you said you would."
"I don't remember saying that exactly. Maybe, I said something like I would like-"
"No! You said you would!!"
"Well, I can't take that course. It's like five thousand dollars."
So Gee doesn't talk to me for a good five minutes. She is visibly upset. When I ask her what's wrong, she says nothing is. I decide to let her brood on her own. I know that I have the tendency to try and fix things as a man, and that women would rather process on their own, so I skedaddle.
Later, we talk again. I offer the compromise of having her or her mother teach me, or to take a cheaper course somewhere else. This satisfies her, and she seems to be at an even keel.
"You okay with me now?"
"I've been okay. You are the one who was reacting strongly."
I find it interesting that people expect so much out of their partners for their parents' sake. It is quite an absurd and crazy behavior, especially when parents have their own minds and ways of dealing with a situation that might be absolutely contrary to the way a person thinks it might go. That's usually the problem though. Someone thinks or someone knows. I know I do it daily.
"We need to shut off the switch," my dad says, when I relate the story to him. "We need to stop thinking. It's in the way we say things. Our tone needs to be right."
"That seems a bit crazy to me too, though. I mean, I don't mean any disrespect to you. I understand what you're saying. That might work in a corporate environment, but only for a time. It won't be long before that mask gives way to how you truly respond to things. That's why I've come up with a new way to deal with life."
"What is that?"
"I'm just going to be whatever I am. If I'm mad, I'll be mad. If someone hurts me, I'll be exactly that. I'm not going to try and suppress or change my feelings."
"I am not saying to suppress your feelings."
"Okay. Then transcend."
"Yes, you must transcend when your buttons are pushed."
"Yeah, I'm not going to try to transcend. I'm just going to be what I am."
"This is a dangerous way to be. People will be upset."
"I'm not so sure. That's just your story of what you think people will be. I've known many friends that behaved in a way that was different, but that didn't make me like them any less or more."
"Give me an example."
"Okay. You know the story about Bahuddin?"
"I think I know this story."
"Bahudding was sitting on his patio, whatever. All his students were around him. Suddenly, some guy comes in and asks if the great teacher, Bahuddin, can teach him the mystical practice of Sufism. Bahuddin says, 'No way! You would suck as a student. Get lost!' The guy hears this and runs out of the hall super depressed. Then all of Bahuddin's students look at Bahuddin and are like, 'Dude, why were you so harsh?' Just as they ask this question, a bird flies into the room. All the students try to catch it, but the bird evades them. Finally, it lands on a windowsill by Bahuddin. He brings his hands close to the bird and claps them loudly. Whack! Whack! The bird flies straight out the window. 'See?' Bahuddin says. 'That man was just like this bird. Sometimes a loud noise helps them fly straight.'
"What does the story mean?"
"Well, that's the point of Sufi stories. You got to figure out the layers, but I would say that it demonstrates what we were talking about. A person can be truthful. They can be many different things. Who knows if it's going to be hurtful or not? If you're being true to yourself, isn't that more important?"