Today I am thirty and seven years old.
I doubt even to a bored numerologist it adds up to much; but, to me it sums to a most precious number. A number I had some doubts I would be able to count on. When I was a child I came to believe through a long series of dreams that I would die when I was thirty and six years old. Silly, really. Who still believes well into their adult years in the dreams they had as a child? Certainly not the person writing this here now. But a part of him, a part of me, believes it or at least believed it might be true. Call it one of my inner children: he still believed. Was it probable that my death was foretold in my dreams from childhood? Probable? Not at all. However. Is it possible? Yes, oh pity yes, it is possible! Anything is possible. Oh! such an infinitesimally small crack that is, is it not? Possible. Possible, it is enough to crack wide anyone’s grasp of reality. It has been a year both lived as best as I know how, but also a year secretly wondering if this is the year a door, my door, closes.
This all began more years ago than I care to comment on; but, by age eight this reality had been seeded deep. In those dreams I was forever 36 years old. In those dreams all things centered on the end of the world in its many and varied forms. In those dreams it was always I that ended the world; my hands were its destroyer. In those dreams in the end I always died. At some point, as I grew older, I understood all this to be merely the dreams of a troubled youth. But that was some ten years after it all began. In the years it took me to recognize this the thought of death was already planted deeper than I wished (and wish) to admit. Especially in my younger years the dreams came to me with such rapidity and regularity that I thought they were the only things I ever dreamed of. There was no other dreams. Just those dreams. There was for a time that they replaced my waking world’s reality as if every night as I closed my eyes I was actually awakening to my true world, a world where I came to destroy it and then die. And when I died in that world only then could I open my eyes and go to sleep in this world, till the next night when I would destroy all over again.
These things have a way of snaking themselves into the subconscious, twisting things around till they become something more than mere dream: they came to be my believed destiny. It is maybe why I believe so strongly in free will and why I feel it necessary to damn Fate. How else could I have finally escaped those dreams then to believe more than in anything that my life is not at the mercy of anything than my own decisions: I decided back then to live; to not die. But when you believe something as strongly and as deeply as I did for as long as I did, I suspect it must have changed me, warped and cracked me even. I also suspect that I will never be able to fully comprehend the extent of these changes in me. I only know that I was changed by them; I am changed by them. I eventually let go of the idea that I would someday destroy the world. That is an easy one to dismiss: me as the destroyer of our world. But I was never able to completely dismiss that I might be the destroyer of my world. Why could I not be my own destroyer? I identified directly with King Lear in large part because the tragedy of Lear who wants to be loved but does not know how to is a mirror to my own self-image; I wanting to love and be loved yet always seeming to fail utterly at it. Which is to say, there is a part of me that never quite let go of the seed of an idea that my dreams were harbringer of my own doom.
The tick and tock of the clock has brought me ever closer to today. In this last year, in some ways, my world did end. It was not for the first time I found myself alone at the end of a sudden divorce. But unlike the first divorce, I was able to admit to the sobering truth that it ended at my own hands. No relationship is as black and white that blame can laid at one pair of feet, we both contributed to our demise. But I played my part as co-destroyer of a beautiful life with a most beautiful person. Sitting amongst the ruins of a life, once I put aside ego and discarded self-denial, I discovered something precious. Maybe it was not so much a discovery as it was that I allowed myself the courage to love myself; the compassion to forgive myself. Just as I learned to forgive myself, I also learned to accept myself. I also learned that all realities must be allowed to co-exist. I had to accept my now ex-wife’s reality that I was an unforgivable, damnable person even as I found the courage to forgive myself. In the end, I coexist next to my contradictions of myself. We do not cancel each other, we only strengthen and broaden who I am in this world; all these realities are valid parts of who I am. I also discovered that all of these realities must be honored and accepted, and all the while I must never lose my faith in my humanity. This meant, as odd as it may seem to be, that I had to accept my childhood dreams as both a possibility and as a delusion. Denying this insanity, as it were, was not an option; to deny those dreams was to deny who I am. It is my reality even if it all but a mere dream in my head.
So I did the one thing I am know best. I dusted myself off and walked toward the pain. I embraced who I am (and am not), delusions and all. This past year I named the Year of Ward for reasons rather more humorously macabre than the cheery reasons I told others. I traveled to say goodbye to the places and people precious to me; I traveled to say hello to the people and places dear to me. I tried to squeeze every ounce out of my time, spending as much as time as could be afforded with the people I love including myself. I tried to give myself the gift of life. It has been 36 years, much of it wondering if this was the year. It seems it was not to be. At least not this year. There is always time enough to die someday. But not today. I only hope that in the coming 36 years I find a long line of doors to open: from the year of Ward to the life of Ward. Word.