“She thinks that happiness is a mat that sits on her doorway.” ~ Matchbox 20

[…Some of you are aware that my father died last month.  Since I process a lot of my emotions by writing, you might even be expecting a post about him. I’ve tried to figure out what to write when it comes to my father, but either I’m not ready or there’s no way to express all that I feel. Maybe writing his eulogy was enough for now…]

Do you ever think about your dreams and wonder what, if anything, they mean?

Most of the thoughts and images that wander through my mind while asleep are just odd fractions of things going on in life. But every now and then there’s a dream that just feels different—the sheer intensity of thought and emotion clouds the barrier between the dream and waking world.

An example is the night I dreamed of running on a forest path and transforming into a white wolf. In the dream I howled quite loudly. I also howled in real life…at 3 in the morning…loud enough to wake up myself and the neighbor who heard me through the not-quite-thick-enough townhouse walls. My wolf howl turned to hoots of laughter once I was awake enough to realize what I was doing. The neighbor gave me very curious looks for a couple of weeks.

Last year I had a different type of dream. An old friend who died several years ago took me by the hand and led me forward in time to view pieces of my future. There were things in the dream I had a hard time imagining ever happening. Some scenes were difficult, but the last one left me feeling happy beyond words.

The grey streaks in my hair showed the passage of time, but I stood on a small stage outside playing the mandolin with a group of people. The music was great, but the most striking thing was how happy I felt—happy in an “I forgot this was even possible” kind of way. It isn’t like I was or am unhappy in my waking life, but it had been years since I had felt the totally blissed-out happiness of the dream.

At the time, I didn’t play the mandolin at all. Matt had bought me one as a Christmas present several years earlier, not too long after my friend who played had died, but I never learned how to play it. In fact, I had considered selling the mandolin several times.

I’m not an “I dreamed it so it will come true” kind of person, but I think that sometimes our dreams have value. Besides, life is short and that sort of happiness shouldn’t be shrugged away as just a dream.

That night, I started learning to play the mandolin. It’s a fun little instrument. It’s comfortable to hold, light to carry, and has a unique sound. Mandolins are associated with bluegrass music, but I’ve been messing with a couple of classical pieces, swing, country, pop, and rock too. (I’m not good at playing any of them yet, but I enjoy working at them.) The mandolin is a lot more versatile than I ever realized.

It’ll be a couple of years before I can play it well, but progress is happening…not just with playing the mandolin but with my life too. As silly as it sounds, that dream and playing the mandolin is bringing deeper happiness into my life. If nothing else, the dream reminded me what it is to have every cell of my being dancing with joy.

One day I was musing over how much fun I was having while playing and I lifted the mandolin to admire the woodwork. On the back of the instrument there are natural variations in the wood grain. If you angle the mandolin a little bit and the light hits it just right, those markings become a smiley-face.

Disregard the ceiling fan reflection and look at the wood grain happy face near the bottom right of the mandolin.

Sometimes it’s good to follow your dreams.

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