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Nightmares

September 11, 2019

I met my wife for our first date in April of 1980. We walked allll the way from 79th street to The World Trade Center we went to the Observation Deck and saw the sunset lights go on looking north up Manhattan. A dream come true, Love. Marriage. Two children.

Twenty plus years later, I am driving to Taunton Press to “seal the deal” on my 6th book. It was as bright as that day more than a score of years ago. But some plane had just hit one of those Towers when I left for my 10:30 meeting. “That’s too bad, some nut or incompetent”. Then another. Then that building fell down. Then the first. All on my car radio. A complete nightmare in a Saturn.

A client was there. Gone. Another across the street: Life completely changed. Forever. My career seems to simply push through all life eventualities. The book was a hit, it’s successor, the paperback, too. Now 2 more (that were not). 400 buildings, a hundred talks, building our barn, kids graduating. We are married, going on 40 years in a year.

But that was neither the first or last nightmare. It was just a very real one.

This morning, a nightmare, I guess, that was so real, I awoke thinking it was the next day. Otherwise these mind controls become versions of movies that I am in, huge errors I make, terror at some existential fear are virtually every night, punctuated by awakening, after the REM cycle completes.

“You should see a therapist.”

Sure. Why not? Well, perhaps I do not because the real terrors of things like 9-11, my sibling’s suicide, our childhood, are understood, not feared. No therapy will contextualize them, make them better than they were. After 60 years of sentience I do know myself, and know the things that are broken by acts of terror, whether by planes or childhood, are not fixed by remembering them better, only remembering them differently from reality, or forgetting them. Looking into the dark glass of age, there is a good chance both of those changes will happen naturally, without therapy.

Resignation to open wounds is not human. We, I, want to fix. Everything. Every day. I want to correct the person who mocks me for using “architect” as a verb (wrong, but vernacular, now). I want to design every building I see getting built. Every One.

And I know it is asinine.

So, in the reality of a megalomaniac who knows he is one, been given everything, deserved none of the unearned good and bad bits that befall ever human, why am I OK?

Because I know I cannot be responsible for something I did not create. Even the things I help do are not me. Because God made me, “not we, ourselves.”

Unending, unrelenting nightmares, some to the point of terror, are not understood, but not feared, either. I accept them as part of me, like the unnecessary 30 pounds that layers about my ungainly frame. I could lose those pounds, I could go to therapy about my night terrors, but what made them, and the desire to design every building I did not design (but still want to) is how I was made.

And I did not make me.

Whatever put together these zillions of cells and all the millions, nay, billions of other collected bodies of zillions of cells is as constant and as silent as my night terrors.

God, the reality so religiously denied, rejected and rationalized is just there, whether we like it or not. Our “perfection”, our justice, our “just desserts” have zero to do with the insanely complex reality that was made for us, but certainly, any reasonable apprehension has to know is fully impossible to pop up by chance.

Believing in the odds that even trillions of years can randomly design, integrate, sustain, adapt, revise and continue life is a fairy tale. One that says nothing matters. All is chance. Except maybe being loved. Or a resume. Or a bank account. Or having the next breath.

Those 3,000+ souls who simply stopped breathing were killed by such fairy tales of connection of personal, human insight by 20 men, who knew, knew, that God told them to blow up that morning. And told me I should design every building I see being built.

“No one knows God” – clearly, but the reality of our unnecessary destruction of the miracles of life is, to me and to every sentient person, heinous. Why?

Because God made the beauty that humans often wreck. And we know it is simply wrong, like those planes crashing into buildings so long ago, so fully real.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2019 8:32 am

    Thanks for another provocative thought piece, Duo! As both a Christian and a therapist, however, I’d like to point out that while God creates each of us, we are then ushered in, through baptism to the lifelong process of co-creating ourselves and our world with God. That process, for most of us, is more like a compost heap than a Martha Stewart garden, as your prior pieces have artfully described. But co-transform we do, with God. And therapy, as I know you know, is not about simply and painfully re-telling our stories. It is a path to finding redemption, new meaning, God’s presence and action in those stories. While acceptance of who we are and how we are made is one important aspect of our story, in true Anglican form, we’d best remember that who we are becoming, with God’s grace, is what transforms, in cooperation with God, the world we live in.
    Fondly, Paul

    • September 12, 2019 10:04 am

      Yes: – in the early dawn that these pieces are often fully birthed and launched from, there is an unrelenting humanity of its genesis, for good or ill: in these latter days of perspective, “on the return flight home” as my wife calls it, the “settled law” of the first half of this time on earth, is fully present, if not overwhelming. This is where I, really for the first time, am right there with Jesus, the carpenter. The survival, beyond expectation, to the inevitable end, is only and uniquely human. That place is not great for healing beyond being present – especially in those early morning hours. Thank God for those – and you. -Du

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