The young Marine stood in the alley of my family’s house on Senator Street and told me all about his haircut.
His commanding officer was very strict, he said, and demanded that this young man get a most severe crew cut.
The Marine was friendly, happy to tell someone his story. I listened and nodded politely as he spoke.
None of this was real, of course. I no longer live on Senator Street and I don’t know any young Marines. This was a dream I had a few nights ago.
The scene shifted, the young Marine disappeared, and I was inside my family’s house, tending to my elderly father, which I did up until his death in 2007.
However, unlike reality, there was none of the stress, worry, and anger in the dream.
Instead I was calm and in control and my father was cooperative—all the evidence you need to show that this wasn’t happening in the real world.
I was getting my father his breakfast and he said he wanted to go outside.
“Put on a jacket or you’ll catch cold,” I said, sounding an awful lot like my mother.
Now I think it’s pretty obvious that the Marine was a stand-in for my father as a young man.
Some part of my mind was trying to remind me that my dad was once a young man with hopes and dreams who was suddenly thrown into the middle of World War II. The life he wanted to live had been brutally derailed.
And that mellow breakfast scene with my elderly father was a bit of revisionist history that I believe was intended to put the bad old days to rest.
That was such a difficult time in my life. My father was suffering from dementia and I was feeling trapped, hating myself for not doing more with my life. As bad as things were, I did my best to make them even worse.
I had this dream on the day I had gone for my energy session, an incredible experience that drew all this tension right out of me.
I was feeling so relaxed, so free, that my subconscious apparently wanted to keep the good will going after I went to sleep.
I know that it’s important to put the painful memories behind me and I think a lot of the resentment I feel is just a reflex action. I’m so used to being pissed off about one thing or another that my mind doesn’t react well to tranquility.
That’s why meditation has become so important to me. Each morning I set the timer on my smartphone for 20 minutes, give myself permission to relax, and put aside any and all angry thoughts.
My mind does wonder and I do slip back into my old hostile habits. But I believe the mellow moments are getting longer and my heart is slowly opening up to the idea of making peace with the past.