Last night I dreamt of a post-apocalyptic nightmare world that I was trying to adjust to, living in some stunted way and trying to act as though everything was normal and happy. I clearly remember thinking in my dream, as I switched on an emergency radio, ‘maybe someday everything will go back the way it was. can it ever go back the way it was?‘ and knowing that the world was never, ever going back the way it was.
Then a familiar tune slowly began to filter through the walls of the dream, notes and a refrain, entirely out of place with what was going on in my grey dream state. I rose up out of sleep, slowly, and the street outside my window was full of Kenny Rogers warbling “The Gambler”. I considered calling the police (who has a Kenny Rogers themed party on a quiet residential street at 12.31 on a Sunday night?) but instead I lay there sort of blearily humming along with it. Then it was over = there was just that one song – and I lay awake for another two hours trying in vain to fall back to sleep. I didn’t quite remember there being so many choruses.
So today I was thinking about that dream, and the wish for things to be a way that they aren’t, that they never can be again, and for the first time in a long time, instead of feeling like I was just staunchly ignoring a familiar pain and thinking that if I just rode out that wave, soon it would be over, just breathe through it like a contraction – there wasn’t any pain. There was, instead, a realization that I am EXACTLY where I need to be and SOMETHING helped bring me through this, directed my boat and helped me steer when I felt blind. I looked at where I could be, the different choices I could have made, the other paths, and instead of feeling regret and loneliness, I realized how much stronger and better I am for what I have been through and what I’ve learned from it. Instead of feeling like a passive victim of circumstance, I can see the choices I made and how they got me where I am now, to the right place, and how miserable and out of sorts I might have felt in any other place. I’m not quite sure what the Gambler has to do with it but he definitely fits in somewhere (because God knows there can’t be anything random or coincidental about Kenny Rogers in all of this) even if it’s as a midnight reminder that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.