The dream takes place in one of my previous homes. It is early morning and at the birth of sunrise. I am standing at the front door on stoop of my old home at a place called Rowehl Drive.
Looking across from me is an old tree that stands in the section of grass that runs between the street and the sidewalk.
The tree is old, mainly empty of leaves, and partially dead but partially alive as well.
I used to see this old tree on a daily basis. I admired the tree. I depended upon it to be there, to stand there, and to remain there regardless to people and their opinions, and to endure there, regardless to the storms that came our way.
This is how I used to start my day. I would come out from my home with my world behind me and the outside world in front of me. Before I walked to my car and headed off to work, the first thing I would see is the tree, which I always regarded to as my friend, The Old Tree.
I saw the tree as a symbol. My friend The Old Tree was older than anything or anyone else on our block. It was once perfect like any other tree but age came along. Life happened to the tree. Parts broke down and limbs fell off.
Other trees on the block may have seemed prettier. Maybe they looked nicer.
They were certainly younger and supposedly more durable. But whenever a storm hit, The Old Tree always remained. Other trees that were more durable and younger had fallen and toppled over. But not The Old Tree.
No . . .
The Old Tree refused to fall because its roots were too deep. As I saw it, The Old Tree wouldn’t fall because there were too many people rooting for its demise.
People on the block saw the tree as unsightly. They said it should be cut down. Put out of its misery.
They said the tree is more than half dead. I said the tree is still alive and been through more storms than any of us.
I loved that tree. Not because it was ugly or beautiful; I loved the tree because it taught me to withstand. It taught me that I can endure. I learned that pain happens. Loss happens. Bad things happen but so long as I care for my roots, I can withstand any of the storms my life will bring.
The tree taught me that life is best lived when we understand the secret of endurance, which is to be true to our roots, to remain, and to stand regardless to any of our outside distractions
In my dream, I am standing on my stoop and looking at the tree. Daylight is just beginning and the color of the sky varies in the hopeful shades of an early dawn.
The weather is neither cold nor warm.
The wind is calm and the streets are empty.
In my dream, it feels as though there is no one else around. All of the homes are like empty vessels. There is no one but me. It’s just me and my own true self, undressed and undecorated.
I step down from the stoop and I walk down towards the sidewalk. I look left and then I look right. Then I look left again and walk onto the road.
My steps are strange, which is what leads me to understand this is only a dream. My steps are like dream steps, in which I myself am not really moving; instead, I am simply being moved and moving down the road to notice the changes to my scene.
I head towards Bellmore Road and pass Parkway School Elementary School, which is on my left. I look around, amazed by the emptiness of it all. The homes are empty. The streets are empty.
As far as my dream is concerned, the entire world is empty. There is no one but me and my thoughts.
There is no one but me and my concerns and fears. There is no one but me beneath the morning sky, just trying to find my way, and figure out how to endure and which way to go.
This dream happens when my thoughts come at me from too many directions. This happens when I feel unsure or unsafe or afraid about what might come next. This is an anxiety dream, for sure, which is not altogether bad or good; however, I see this as my mind’s way to settle my thoughts.
I think I might be naked in this dream. And I don’t mean naked the way we usually mean. Least of all, I am not naked in a sexual way by any means.
I am more than just unclothed. I am naked to the world and vulnerable. I am humbled and all of my layers, which I use as a shield, and which I use to hide behind are all removed. I am just me without the distraction.
There is nothing to conceal me from my naked self, which is almost raw to the touch.
I want to be this way, to live this way, unapologetic and undeterred to be me as I am; to live, to love, think, and feel exactly as I do without concern or feeling the need to explain myself.
Sometimes, the dream leads me back to a field I knew in my childhood. As a kid, I used to walk through the trails in the tall grass. I used to explore here. I used to play here. Back when my world was shrunken down to the size of a child’s mind, I used to hide here too.
In my dream, I find me there in a field of tall grass. The sky is still perfect—or more accurately, the colors of the morning sky are pristine and unblemished.
I feel something about this. I feel the emptiness of my vacant surrounding is a beautiful part of my search. This is neither lonely or desperate. This is just me and me alone.
I say this is beautiful because I am not distracted by anyone else. There is no one around to sway me. There is no one for me to please or impress. I look around at the vastness; I turn to see the emptiness of everything and then I realize; it all comes down to me.
It always has.
Everything I do is up to me. No one can hurt me unless I volunteer. No one can steal me unless I give myself away. And like my friend, The Old tree, so long as I care for my roots; no one can ever knock me down. I am now and will always be the square root to my own equation.
This is me, stripped of all the nonsense. This is me, back to my own basic self, and this is me, undressed and unashamed.
For as long as I can remember, I have always had this thing in my heart for the sunrise. Including this morning, I have lived to see 16,900 sunrises. Obviously, some of them are more memorable than others. Some of them linger in my thought and some just vanish like time does after it goes away.
I remember a morning in an upstate town. The trees in the mountains around me were empty of their leaves. The snowfall blanketed the grounds and coated the trees. And me, I was able to look out at the landscape and see the orange glow from the sun as it pushed upwards from the horizon. I viewed this as a specific moment of change. In fact, I saw the sun come up like the birth of early light while being held in the palm of God the Father’s hand.
I remember a sunrise that took place in my rearview mirror as I drove over the 59th Street Bridge. There is no reason why I would remember this drive over any other. I suppose, however, the sky was just pretty enough that my mind took a picture and refused to let it go.
I remember a sunrise walk I took just before Mom died. I was on the beach. To my left was the sea, which was calm, and the waves rolled in to allow a gentle sound for the background noise.
To my right were the sand and the palm trees. I remember this morning because I knew there would only be a few of them left before Mom passed. And unfortunately, I was right.
I have always had a certain view of the sunrise. I see this as a symbol of hope in times when my hope runs thin.
I see this dream of mine as a reminder. Sometimes, we need to scale back and rid ourselves of the distractions.
Whether we are distracted by people or places or things, sometimes, I need to scale back and get a better view of myself.
Sometimes, I just need to be me and find peace within myself.
I just need to be happy from this day forward, until death do us part.
God, I love the sunrise.
It’s always been able to say things I never had the words to explain:
To tell you how I feel
To accompany me when I feel weak
To strengthen me when I need it most
Good morning, sunrise . . .
I’ve been waiting for you