Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #201 – “I Want to Dream”

The stuff that dreams are made of? Or nightmares?

THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

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by Larry Brody

Last month I wrote what I thought would be one of the least controversial pieces in this space.

It was about writing and daydreaming. and how being paid to write interferes with the daydreaming process. How, in regard to one particular project, I’d realized that although I could live without the money I wouldn’t be able to stand my life without the daydreams. So I let the money go.

Yesterday, though, in the Walmart parking lot, I met a reader who had a bone to pick on the subject.

I was walking toward the store from my truck when I noticed a woman looking at me closely. Trying to figure out if I knew her, I looked back.

“Are you Larry Brody?” the woman said.

“Why, yes, I am,” I said. “And you??”

“I’m Doris,” said the woman. “I read you every week.”

“Aha! So you’re the one,” I said. “Thank you so much.” (Yes, this is a canned response. But it’s also sincere. I appreciate each and every human being who allows me the privilege of communicating with them. The fact that anyone cares what I’ve got to say about a topic is always as gratifying to me as it is astounding.)

Doris looked thoughtful. “What you said about daydreaming has me pretty upset,” she said.

“Upset? I’m sorry….”

“Not your fault,” said Doris. “Not really. It’s my own.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When I was a little girl I used to daydream all the time,” Doris said. “I’d sit at my table in school and instead of working on the project we’d all been assigned I’d be in the middle of a dream. I’d dream I was Princess Laia. Or Lara Croft. Or a character I made up myself, a kind of tiger woman from Jupiter, no less.”

“Teachers don’t exactly understand those things, do they?” I said. “I remember when I?”

Doris waved off my words. “My teachers didn’t know what I was doing. I knew how to look like I was paying attention. Guess I was a pretty sneaky kid.

“I loved living in two worlds at one time. It was so exciting to be in the middle of a soccer game in one world and in a Florida swamp in another. Everybody saw me kicking the soccer ball while I saw myself kicking a ‘gater’s snout.

“And doing my chores was so much easer when I was able to imagine myself singing a hit record instead of pushing that awful vacuum cleaner,” Doris went on.

“But then, the kind of thing nobody ever wants to happen, happened to me. The kind of thing that makes it impossible to ever trust anybody again. That keeps me watching and listening and screaming inside.

“The soccer and vacuum world turned so ugly that I couldn’t let myself daydream anymore. How could I walk down a snow-covered street to the market and pretend I was ice skating at the Olympics when every step I heard behind me made me jump with fear? How could I let my mind wander to a star cruiser at the edge of the galaxy when I had to watch every shadow around me to make sure it wasn’t somebody who meant me more harm?”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I understand.”

“Do you?” Doris said. “Do you understand how I got so used to feeling afraid and being watchful all the time that I forgot what it was like to be any other way? That I got so used to being only in this too-real world that I forgot I’d ever been able to go somewhere else?

“My old daydreams stayed hidden, till I read what you wrote. Now I remember every one. I remember how it felt to be inside them. And how wonderful it was to be filled with excitement instead of fear.”

The late winter wind blew Doris’s hair into her face. She brushed it away. Regarded me with moist eyes.

“I’m still afraid,” she said. Can’t dream the dreams again. Can’t even let myself try. So I don’t know whether to thank you for the memories…or damn you to hell.”

I reached out to comfort her. Doris’s eyes widened in terror, and she rushed away, down the parking aisle.

Since then, our meeting has been replaying in my mind. What I see when I watch it is that she’s still dreaming.

But now her daydream is the nightmare of real life.

Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.

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