On the night of my thirteenth birthday, I had a dream that I’d never forget for the rest of my life. It was the first time that I’d heard a voice in my head that seemed more familiar to me than my own Mother’s.
You must find me. That is your mission in life… to find me.
“Who are you?”
I’m your dream.
“Yeah, well that’s obvious, just look around,” I said. I was sitting cross-legged in a small, round room that was completely black aside from one light that glowed behind this angelic voice. The walls were well above my height should I have been standing, but the wall between the voice and myself was built only high enough to prevent me from seeing the other side from my seated position. The floor felt dusty and smelled slightly of fallen leaves, while above me, there was no ceiling at all; just an endless, dark night. Upon closer inspection, the wall between us was actually built of various sized, shaped and colored Etch-a-Sketch tablets; the discarded toys from my past.
I continued, “I mean, you’re right here, doesn’t that mean I’ve already found you?”
You must find me in the real world, Soup, not the world of your dreams. I know this world—the world of dreams—and I’m here to help you navigate through it so that you can better understand your reality.
As I looked more closely, the surrounding wall of the circular room was also built from the toy-like bricks that made up the wall between us. The main difference between the walls of the room and the wall between us was that they were black and in constant motion. They etched words, shapes and some even scribbled randomly without direction.
Pay no attention to them; they represent all that is going on in your mind right now.
“My mind is an Etch-a-Sketch?”
Hundreds of them, apparently, it may be my world, but it’s “your” dream.
In the real world, I would have thought I’d gone insane, but in the world of my dreams, where anything could happen, I just went with it.
Though I was curious about our conversation, the world outside of our walls proved to be a distraction. It sounded as if things on the outside wanted frantically to get inside. I’d not yet mastered the concept of flying in my dreams, though I’d been getting better with years of practice behind me, so I began flapping my arms erratically, which I knew would start a slow ascent from where I sat. With great and ridiculous-looking effort, I reached a height of twenty feet off of the ground and hovered so that I could look around. Even in the night, it was easy to discern that a desolate land at the top of mesa surrounded us; sparse shrubbery grew in the cracks of the land where it could hide its roots from the torturous sun and spying moon. There were no lights to be seen in any direction all the way where land met sky. I hadn’t gained much altitude, but from my hovering perch, I could see that our room resembled a circle with a slash dividing it into two halves; commonly called a Do Not Enter symbol.
Don’t leave me yet, Soup, your mind wanders and we have much to discuss.
Though above her, I couldn’t make out any physical features of the voice that was speaking to me, but I felt like I’d known her for my entire life. On her directive, it felt wise to obey, so I floated silently to the ground and resumed my cross-legged pose.
“How do I find you in the real world?” I asked.
Despite what others believe, life is not mandated, predetermined, or about fate; it’s simpler than that. In life you are given a mission, call it homework or a task to complete if you like, but it is that mission that ultimately defines who you are. When they look back on your life, you’ll be graded solely upon how effectively you’ve accomplished your life’s mission. Completing your mission becomes your contribution to the good of the world.
I knew I wouldn’t get much more from her about “them,” plus I was still bewildered by the mission that she’d thrust upon me. “I don’t know you, so how am I supposed to trust that this mission to find you is actually my true path? That’s like programming me without my questioning the programmer. I wouldn’t be able to accept that I’m just a drone.” I couldn’t tell how many, but several of the black Etch-a-Sketches shook hastily back and forth.
Think, Soupy. You are the ultimate believer in true love and you always rise to a challenge. No one will have walked before you down the path that you must take. It’s not that clear. There are no footprints to follow. You’ll have to make your own path. If you want to show the world that true love actually exists, then you will make it your life’s mission to find me.
My inquisitive self gave way to acceptance. All of the Etch-a-Sketch tablets shook like a low-grade earthquake.
You can look at them now.
In unison, they all sketched the shape of a heart and filled it in.
I smiled though still confused, “But how will I know when I’ve found you?”
You will know because our togetherness will prove the existence of true love. We will be a beacon of light for others; an example to emulate in their own lives. The world will once more believe in love and will use this belief to heal itself.
“Great, not only am I in this weird place, but your answers are purposefully vague. I’m confused.”
You will learn at least one thing from every person that you meet in your life. Dating will always be about your heart; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I know you well enough to know that you begin measuring whether you want to spend the rest of your life with a woman from the first moment that you set eyes on her. So, make darn sure that you learn something from every woman that you date in your life.
“Okay.” Though I was new to my teenage years, I’d already learned that kissing a girl just to kiss her felt emotionally hollow.
You’re too young to completely understand what I’m telling you about your mission because you’ve so many things in your head that you believe are important to accomplish in life. You’re young and overly focused on short-term goals.
“Yeah, it’s hard to think that I’m supposed to find a love that will shine when I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”
This task that I’ve given you, it’s a numbers game, a game of volume. Only by accumulated experience will you eventually figure out who I am and where to find me. So, like I said, make sure you learn from everyone because each woman will unlock another piece of the puzzle. You will fail at finding me over and over again. You will fail with consistency until you succeed. It sounds daunting. It doesn’t sound like much fun. In fact, it sounds down right miserable for someone that lives in a glass half empty world. But you, Soupy Heller, I know that you live in optimism. I know that you’ll learn from both failure and success. You will come off as brash, at times, but you will develop a sense of “knowing.” And from this sense, you will learn to manage your failure. Believe this, Soupy, and believe in me. When you find me then you’ll have found success and that success is true love.
“Perhaps you can make my task a bit easier by telling me your name?”
Until you find me in the real world, call me “Promise.”
“Do you promise, Promise?”
Like I’ve never heard that one before? You’re such a dork, but I love you for it.
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