A head profile with cords coming in creating the folds of the brain

Running in My Dreams

It has been a while since I’ve submitted an article (same old story). I’ve been fortunate to be able to return to a job where the organization understands what I am experiencing.

Same old story

I am also working on the outlines of my fourth and fifth books, which are sequels to my other books. This particular blog is a little bit about my books or, at least, the creative process. More in a minute. Between my job and writing, I have stayed terribly busy, which has substantially eaten into my blog writing time. Is that a good or bad thing? (same old story).

Lent and my Catholic guilt

Recently, the Catholic guilt I’ve been suppressing for years kicked in, and I decided to go back to my roots for Lent, giving up both Facebook and anything to do with the “news” or similar media. How was I going to do that for forty days? I’ll admit it; I can be a social media zombie who spends too much time reading useless stuff. I always saw Lent in the light of being something awful. I’ve changed my mind this time around. It’s been good for me. Look, I am writing a blog because of the additional time it gives me. I also have time to think about silly stuff like dreams. But I digress (same old story).

Something happened on the way to my transplant

As many of you know from previous articles, before getting multiple myeloma, I was super-active from an athletic point of view...running, weightlifting, basketball, climbing mountains in Peru... you get the idea. That is a part of life I continue to miss immensely. Ten collapsed vertebrae have a way of slowing you down. But something odd that sped me back up happened to me during induction therapy.

Baseball is a non-contact sport

It all started one night about three months after my diagnosis, deep into sleep I was dreaming about playing baseball. The sky was aqua blue, the grass was deep green, with diagonal tracks from the lawnmower pushing the blades into place, and the dirt was smooth and forgiving. I could see every detail of what was going on around me.

I was the shortstop. The opposing team had two outs, with players on second and third. My team was ahead by one. Readying myself for anything, I yelled out to the pitcher "You own this guy." On the next pitch, the batter hit a sharp line drive to my right. I reacted by turning to my right, reaching out my glove hand across my body, taking one strong step, and pushing hard off my left foot as I dove for the ball. I was horizontal to the playing field and could see the ball reaching my glove, and then… crash. My head smashed into the nightstand, splitting my ear open. I landed on the floor, crumpled and bleeding.

That was the first time in my life something like that had happened.  I was dreaming and similar dreams have continued.

Has my brain been rewired?

The dream episodes occurred frequently, I would be playing just about every sport, running, fighting off monsters, animals, and burglars. In almost every case ended up on the floor or in another room in the house. I recall though, that the frequency slowed down tremendously when I was deep into writing my books.

Is this phenomenon related to creativity? Has the multiple myeloma or its treatment changed a part of my brain? I never saw myself as the creative type. I’m an engineer. But after I got sick and started down the road, something changed in the way my brain was wired. I was able to write stories and having the most lucid, yet dangerous dreams in my life. I’ve read that your muscles are supposed to be locked while in this state of dreaming. Mine are not immobile. They are just the opposite.

I love and hate these dreams. I’m capable of doing the things better than I did before I was sick. My body is free of my incapacities. The dreams exhilarate me, yet I know the potential consequences.

I love to run

I mentioned I was now beginning to outline new books, which at this point is less creative to me than digging into the meat of my stories. The frequency of the dream episodes has picked up as well. I have to assume it’s because the writing slowed down.

Last night I dreamt I was jogging. It was the most effortless run in my life. My stride was long, and my breath was still coming in and out of my nose, my muscles were all in synch. It was "Chariots of Fire" beautiful. I was free of hindrances and sickness. I could see the leaves rustling in the breeze and the squirrels running on the branches of trees. Then I hit the steep hill and lost control. In the dream and in real life it was a soft landing. I'm still fascinated that in both worlds, the same thing was happening. I know would take that less than traumatic conclusion every night if I could get back that feeling I had while running in my dream.

When I woke up, I wondered to myself if I am a singularity. I, like many others have chemo brain, where I forget stuff all the time, walk into rooms not knowing what I came in for, and have to use a calculator for simple math. Yet, I can do creative things in dreams and real life I was incapable of before multiple myeloma. Is there anyone else who is experiencing something similar? How do you feel about it? I’m not sure even after five years how I feel, or how committed I am, although last night was such a wonderful experience. Maybe there's another book in this experience.

I do know one thing is true, though. I love to run... and miss it.

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