I write this reflection from our front deck of our cabin on a warm, breezy day. My prompting to write at the computer when I desire to be down by the lake is due to the dream I had last night. I wanted to get down a few words before the memory of the dream escapes me.
I had a dream last night or just before getting up as I faded in and out a few times. It ranks as one of my better dreams that I can remember.
In my dream, I was sitting at a kitchen table in a home that I have never lived in. I think it was a small apartment… that there was a smaller than usual fridge is the only kitchen detail that stands out.
I had a white envelope in my hand that arrived in the mail. I failed to read the outside of the envelope or can’t remember if I did.
I tore open the envelope and inside was a small card- business card size. It was orange-yellow. Around the edge is had a black dotted border. It was blank on the back.
On the front of the card were written only five words that appear on two lines:
Permission to Be Dan Hines
That is all I can recall from what I think was a longer dream.
This bit is quite vivid in colour and these sparse details… the white of the fridge and the envelope and the colour and details and look of the card.
I shared the dream and a few initial thoughts this morning over coffee with Robyn and with friends who are staying with us. I have become aware that the dream has shifted something in me… perhaps it is a subtle change. It is evident in how I breathe right now as I write this. I feel more relaxed. I feel more at home in my skin.
I wonder if the dream was a response to having just read Paul Tillich’s helpful book The Courage to Be…
I realize that I have been struggling these past days on vacation at the cabin with a sense that I should be doing something other than visiting, swimming, eating, hiking, reading and playing cards- something more important. And after all, I have so much work that I should be doing. Isn’t it frivolous to spend days doing what amounts to really nothing? I need to be doing more and doing it better.
How long have I been working this groove? Who revoked my original permission-to-be… an approval that I know I retained when I was younger?
I think I’m pathetic enough that my dream-supplier decided to send me some nighttime mail. Perhaps the plan was that I needed something tangible and dimensional- in my hands- that might serve me as a touchstone. Perhaps granting this level of self-permission would never be truly believable- at least not as just words that I spoke to myself or thoughts in my head.
Maybe I needed to see the words, printed on ink on paper…to flip the card between my fingers… in order to clue in.
How long have I been waiting for this letter to arrive?
I think I am going to print a real life permission card when I get home. I will then put it in my wallet.
I will take this card out at certain times when I am telling myself I am not enough and I’m not doing enough.
If I can hold out this card and read it, I can hear another, deeper voice:
“Hey Dan, you now have verified official permission to be. So, just chillax, man.”
Maybe I will make up a box of these and mail them to the all those people in my life who share my neurotic guilt and sense of misplaced duty.
If you are reading this, be sure to check your mail.