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My View: Dreams lay bare an unsettled soul

By Ron Gawel

I am standing on the boardwalk at Beaver Island staring out onto cloudy waters shrouded in seaweed, which are steadily rolling onto a wet, sandy beach. It is just beyond dawn. I don’t know why I am here, but the most picturesque purple sky is on the horizon and seagulls hover and swoop for tender morsels to satisfy voracious appetites. It’s all here. And suddenly, I realize, so is he!

Standing beside me in the early morning shadows I find myself in the company of my once bosom buddy and the closest person to a brother I ever had – a comrade I know so well from doing my master’s work at Niagara University and part-time security guard duty at the former Carborundum Co.

We stand on the still cool wooden deck boards, clad only in floppy sandals and swim trunks with towels slung around our necks.

Though in our youthful 20s, when we actually knew each other, the time is the present and we are exchanging “war stories” from over the past 40 years spent apart living in vastly different worlds.

I had waited so long for this moment to reconnect with this long-lost person from my life and I was now finally realizing that reality. Or was I?

It was a huge blow to me to suddenly be awakened by two screaming pet felines, rudely, abruptly taking me away from my enjoyable moment. The realization that this meeting was all in my imagination choked me with disappointment. It was a great moment.

But the truth is much different. In reality, times and things had changed and the camaraderie we once shared had long ago disintegrated.

We now had new lives, new friends, new loves, extended families – we’d grown up and grown apart. It was closure I had reached out for and desperately wanted, because I still felt guilt and responsibility for pathetically failing this guy as a friend years earlier.

Dreams are by nature a very part of who we are. Sometimes they are welcome. Other times, not so much. They greet us nightly with the greatest unpredictability. Good, bad, ugly, discombobulated.

They occur, I know, for a reason and with a purpose that may well be beyond the realm of my imagination or interpretation. They have a way of revealing some unrealized truth or long-hidden mystery that I can’t, in my “right” mind during the waking hours, work out.

They are recollections and reminders of who I once was, perhaps of what I escaped or what I’ve now become. They can be perplexing, haunting me and reigniting unsettled affairs I was once involved in.

The “good” dreams I experience often are the satisfying “escape” reveries we all crave and love to have, which reunite us with people from another time.

The bizarre nature of “bad” dreams is very real, too. Nightmares can occur for reasons not understood, but at the time they strike, they are all too believable and frightening. Very often I am left fighting, kicking and screaming. I hopelessly and helplessly find myself trapped in horrifyingly surreal surroundings and unfamiliar territories I’ve stumbled into and struggle to escape from.

Some of my best “escapes” have been nothing more than euphoric, greatly exaggerated dreams that have crossed my subconscious, for which I am truly grateful. They have reunited me with people I undoubtedly will not see again in this life.

Long overlooked memories and old acquaintances resurface in my at-rest psyche whenever I retire and escape into another world.

Ron Gawel, a retired teacher, lives in Niagara Falls with his wife, Eileen, and enjoys writing about his recollections from another time.
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