Lila Duchesne was one of those people who didn’t remember her dreams. She was unable to commiserate with her friend who couldn’t figure out why she kept on dreaming she was naked at work or join in dream analysis discussions with her colleagues. She just fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning at her alarm’s insistent beeping with blankness in the hours between. It didn’t use to be like this. She used to have vivid dreams about flying and fantastical creatures. She’d once had a philosophical conversation with a tree where she seemed on the cusp of understanding the meaning of life until the alarm dashed her hopes. But in the middle of college, her dreams just stopped coming, and 20-odd years on, nothing had changed. She was musing about this on her way to work because just last night her mother had reminded her that she used to have such a wild imagination when she was a child, always acting out little skits for ‘her audience’, making up songs about people and singing each person their own special song to make them feel better, and she used to draw out all her dreams, papering her room with the drawings. Her mother had kept all the drawings as a reminder of her “little artist”. Lila sighed and shook her head now, thinking that she should probably visit her parents. It was obvious her mom was missing her. All of a sudden, she felt an arm across her chest, pushing her back onto the sidewalk.
“Hey, Lila! You almost walked in front of that bus! Didn’t you see the light change?” It was her co-worker, Steve.
“No. Thanks for saving me.” Lila was feeling a little shaken. She was usually so cautious.
“Can you imagine if I hadn’t been late leaving my place today? You’d be splattered on the front of the bus and the road too, probably. I’d have to write your obituary. ‘Lila Duchesne, 43 years old, a senior financial analyst with Fastech Industries, a Fortune 500 company, leaves behind her dog Samson, and …”
As Steve enthusiastically went on describing her life and death, Lila felt like she’d just done a sidestep, like, if this was a movie, everybody would be paused, and she’d be looking at herself from outside her body. I’m 43 years old. I’m a financial analyst. How did I get here, how did I get to this life? I’m Lila, the girl who could run faster than all of her friends, the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and see what adventures she could embark on. What happened?
When this happened to me, it wasn’t dramatic like Lila’s situation at all. I can’t even remember what triggered it. It was just a little shift and I thought to myself, I’m a software training team lead. I felt momentarily unreal; like I was reading about somebody else in a book. It was rather neutral too. I didn’t feel dismayed at the realization, so to speak, it was more like a quiet jolt. And wouldn’t it make a great blog post if I could say that was the moment I realized I wanted to do something else? Nope. I shifted back into myself and continued working. But, I do think that it was a catalyst to thinking about what was out there for me.
Have you ever had this happen to you? Where you suddenly and temporarily had a bird’s-eye view of your life?
What realizations or home truths came about as a result?
If this hasn’t happened to you (or you’d like it to happen again in a more controlled fashion), what could you do to manufacture this shift process to gain knowledge about yourself? I sometimes have daydreams about being interviewed on a talk show (doesn’t everybody?), and when I start talking about how I got to where I am or did what I did it gets me seriously thinking about why I made the life choices I did. Other times, I’m watching a procedural and I wonder how I’d behave if I was being questioned in court. How would I explain my actions?
Now it’s your turn. Let me know your story in the comments!