Cheers to Accepting

“Let me have a Dr. Pepper, please,” I say to the waitress in the tight orange and white T-shirt.

Ivan, however, doesn’t want to drink alone, “Aw, come on, Writer, it’s the weekend. Let loose already. Have a beer. It won’t kill you.”

“Seriously, Ivan. I just want a –”

“Sweetie, just get her a frosty mug and get us a pitcher,” he tells the girl, who shivers at the nickname he used. “My friend and I are celebrating.”

The girl, Kelly according to her nametag, smiles. “Oh, congratulations. What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing, really –”

“—I’ve finally been placed in the right project group!” he says.

Aw, geez.

The waitress swiftly backs away then, order in hand. “I’ll put this in for you. Um, congratulations.” She glances toward me and rolls her eyes.

“Yeah, thanks,” I say, relieved that I’m finally somewhere I belong. She obviously gets my frustration.

Teacher seems to want to give me a taste of hell.   “Everyone needs a chance to succeed, my dear,” he said when I cornered him in his office after the assignments had been doled out.

“I can’t work with Irreverent, Teacher.” I started my complaint. (I’m not an idiot. I had worked on a perfect suggestion.) “I mean, you must admit that Ivan and I are too similar. We are both very headstrong. Our sessions will be argument after argument. Don’t you think it would be better –”

“No, I don’t. I think this would be perfect. I think you need to accept my decision. It will be for the best.”

“But, Teacher. It’s going to be so hard.”

“What would make it difficult, my dear? This is not a punishment and this is not a lesson for him. This is for you, as well,” he said, straightening his purple baseball cap over his newly-dyed blue hair. He set his briefcase down on his desk and walked around his desk toward the door leading into the attached garden.

I dropped everything and followed him. “What you don’t understand, Writer, is that the way you’ve been going about some of my lessons has been all wrong. You need a change.”

“Well, can’t you just tell me? I’ll learn if you tell me what I should be doing.”

“No. You need to learn. Sometimes, the strongest lessons come from following the path of least resistance.”

And with that, the door to this argument was shut. Tight.

“—Cuz, you know, I’ve always wanted to work with you, Writer.” Ivan’s confession brings me back.  I nod because I don’t want to seem heartless, but I really dread this. Ivan has struck me as someone who would be a difficult teammate. He’s always second-guessing everyone else’s comments in class.

When the waitress sets the mugs down and pours one, he snatches it up and pours the beer down his throat. When he’s done, he slams the mug down as if this had been a competition. With a shy shrug, he pours himself another mug.

“So, anyway. What I was saying. I’ve wanted to team up with you for a very long time. Ever since that day you helped me meditate.”

“Why?”

He smiles a weird, embarrassed smile. Then he breaks into a confession that is one long word, probably to keep me from interrupting. “I mean, no romance or anything, okay, but I love you. You showed me a world I had never believed I could find. I’m like loving everything and everyone. It’s like nothing is going wrong in my life anymore. It’s like everything is right. Everything feels right.”

He pauses and I’m speechless. What do I say? He doesn’t give me a chance.

“I mean, like Teacher says, you know, it’s like I’ve stopped fighting things and everything is falling into place.”

“What do you mean, like Teacher says?” Suddenly, I’m caught unprepared. I have no idea what Ivan is talking about.

“Well, not in class. I’ve been working with him on the side. He asked me why I kept fighting his lessons. So I stopped. After your meditation lesson, I stopped fighting.”

He raises his mug to me, “To you, Dear Writer, for teaching me that the best thing to do in life is to let go and let life.” He clinks his mug with mine. “Cheers to the Path of Least Resistance. It’s changed my life!”

And when the rest of the bar joins in with the toast, I have to accept that he’s right.

Until next time, my friends, I remain, ever-faithfully,

The Dragonfly’s Student

What Irreverent Ivan is talking about: Irreverent Learns, Parts 1 and 2, at: http://wp.me/p3akG9-7v

Dreams and Night Walk Lessons

When I woke that morning, all the signs pointed to one lesson — I don’t belong. From the song playing on the alarm clock, to the angry neighbor who growled at me for stepping into the hallway.

I ignored the signs as just my overactive imagination and went to class.

When the Dragonfly buzzed into the classroom, he hovered over each student until flying over the stage at the front of the room and transforming. The iridescent purple and blue of his dragonfly form carried over into the costume he wears today which, miraculously enough, isn’t that unusual. He’s wearing blue flannel pajamas and a purple nightcap.

“We have different experiences in sleep, don’t we?” he said, touching a finger to his cheek in a strangely curious manner.

He glances around the classroom and nods toward one particular student near the far corner of the room. The student, a new kid many of us have never seen before, seems to be in a world of his own.

Teacher calls us around him and we approach the sleeping student. The kid, his round head resting in some kind of pretzel position on the rolled-up backpack on his desk, is breathing deep, regular breaths that would make any insomniac jealous.

“Do you think he’s dreaming?” Teacher asks.

I shrug, as do many others. Irreverent Ivan is more vocal. “Don’t all people dream?” he says, not caring if his voice wakes the sleeping student.

“You would think, wouldn’t you?” Teacher says. “We all are, after all, working or learning after we nod off to sleep.”

He steps away from the kid and signals us to return to our seats. “Let’s let him continue his studies.”

But as we walk back, the room transforms into some kind of barracks with row upon row of single beds.

“What, dear students, do you do when you sleep?” He grabs a pillow and sits, legs crossed, at the end of a bed that has been placed on his stage. His bed, however, is not a military-style single. The mattress he sits on is thick and it’s sitting on top of 20 others so that he towers over us.

“You’ve heard the story of the Princess and the Pea, right? If the girl sleeping on the mattress piled one on top of the other could feel the small pea placed under the stack, then she was a real princess.” He rolls his head and steps off his bed, landing, without a sound, at the foot of his bed.

He reaches under the head of his mattress and pulls out a pea. “I mean, really. This is so annoying.”

He flicks the pea across the room and it bounces off the sleeping student’s nose, waking him. “Good morning, sleepy head. How was school?” Teacher’s voice is as sweet as a kindly grandmother’s.

“What?” the dazed kid wipes drool from his chin and glances around at all of us watching him.

“How was school?” Teacher asks again. “Did you have dreams? Were they vivid and lifelike or more like something out of a Manga fairy tale?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the kid, still dazed, shrugs. “I won’t do it again.”

“Oh, my boy, what you don’t understand is that you are the lesson today.

Some of us snicker, assuming Teacher is playing a joke on him, but he’s not.

“Did you have dreams?” he asks again.

“Um,” the kid runs a hand through his matted red hair. “Yeah, I guess.” He pauses, but when Teacher refuses to interrupt, he takes the hint. “I was at a football game. I was an Offensive Lineman, you know, the guys who protect the quarterback. But I was naked.” He shrugs, an embarrassed smirk on his face.

Teacher pops next to him, in a new costume. He’s wearing a purple wool business suit. In his lips, he holds a purple pipe that is emanating a trail of smoke the same color as the pipe. “And then we woke you up?”

“Yes sir.”

Teacher changes again. Now he’s dressed in blue army fatigues. In place of the pipe, a purple cigar. “At ease, soldier.”

He marches across the bunks in the classroom-turned-barracks.

“Do you all dream?” He barks the question.

Many respond in the manner they believe is appropriate, “Sir, yes sir!” But I can’t, so I don’t.

“Writer! Your response?”

I shrug because, really, I didn’t sign up to be a soldier. “Sir, I barely dream.”

Then Teacher-turned-army-sergeant laughs. He waves his arms and the room in transformed once more into the classroom we know and love.

“Of course, you don’t, my dear. That’s because you remember the lessons.”

He walks up the steps to his stage and turns to the class again. “When you sleep, you return to us in that world on the other side of the veil. You visit and you learn and, if you think you won’t be able to remember, you progam a dream into your memory.”

He turned to the board that has become an old-fashioned black chalkboard. White chalk in hand, he proceeds to write our homework assignment with a flourish, complete with a cliché squeak of the chalk:

  • Keep a dream      journal of EVERY dream you have
  • (Even if you      have to wake up at 3 in the morning to write it!)
  • Then analyze the      lessons for each!

My arm inadvertently shoots into the air, but he ignores it. I wave it harder. Finally, he turns.

“Yes writer, even you.”

“But I don’t dream,” I say, my voice barely audible. I’ve always felt abnormal because of my lack of dreams, now I’m feeling even more so.

As my classmates start their dream journals with lessons they remember from the night before, Teacher skips down the steps toward me.

“My dear, I know you don’t dream, but there are other signs. There are feelings and synchronicities set in place to remind you of the lessons from your Night Walks. Have you noticed any of those today?”

And then I remember.

“Teacher, why don’t I belong?”

“That is a question for you to answer yourself, my dear. Only you can answer that question.”

Until next class, my friends, I remain, faithfully,

The Dragonfly’s Student