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    Round Mountain

           When I was a kid, I had this recurring dream. This recurring nightmare. There stood in front of me a rock. Actually, it was a boulder. No, it was more like a mountain. A round mountain. I was expected to push this round mountain, to move it. All by myself. Nobody in the dream told me I had to move it. But I knew I had to just the same.
            I also knew that I would spend the rest of my life trying, alone, in vain, to move that round mountain. I knew that I would never get any help, and that it would never budge. Not one millionth of an inch. Every moment of my entire life was henceforth going to consist of trying to move this round mountain and never making any progress.
            Staring at this round mountain and contemplating the rest of my existence, I experienced downright suicidal hopelessness and despair. When I woke up, always in a cold sweat and breathing heavily, my relief that it was just a dream knew no bounds. I was grateful beyond measure.
            That dream recurred from the time I was about seven until late in my teens. Up until a few years ago, I had never told anybody about that dream. Not my parents, or my siblings, or my friends, or my teachers, or even my stuffed animals. It was too horrible to contemplate. So like almost everything else I felt then, I kept it inside, and tried to forget about it.
            That nightmare literally scared the life out of me.
            I’ve often thought since then what a sublime and subtly horrific dream that was for a child to have. What I’ve understood since then, is that although I was just a kid, I had already developed adult sized fears. I skipped right over the G-Rated phobias and went right to the R-Rated ones.
            What I didn’t realize as a child was that my waking life resembled that dream. An overall sense of hopelessness, despair, frustration, and melancholy pervaded me as a kid. The dream just reflected that, on the subconscious stage of my sleep.
            I don’t have that dream anymore. But I still remember how it felt, and sometimes I can go there while I’m awake. Sometimes, I still feel that nightmarish level of despair and hopelessness. And, just like it did then, it scares the life out of me.
            I’m good at procrastinating. I’m a pro at letting certain things build to a point where it’s no longer just a deed to be done or a problem to solve. Now, it’s a project. A huge, messy project. If I do that with enough things in my life, I can get that awful feeling again. What I call the “round mountain syndrome”.
            Not again, I tell myself. Not after all the work I’ve done. How the hell do I periodically keep coming back to this shit? Despite all my progress and growth. Despite the profound breakthroughs and awakenings and shifts I’ve experienced over the past six months. Despite all that, this fuckin’ waking dream will not go away.
            It comes up for a reason. It comes up because I still need to work on it. I know that, but that doesn’t help me when it shoves itself into my life. When that happens, I feel crushed by that round mountain. It takes up the whole sky. It takes up all my space, both inside and out. It looms omnipresent. It is both the immovable object and the irresistible force. Like the song by the band Boston, this is more than a feeling. It’s a pervasive, underlying attitude and perspective that still occasionally rears it’s butt ugly head. And I hate it. It goes against my natural enthusiasm and passion and energy. It feels like a cancer that I just want to cut out of me and be done with.
            But I always move through it. I take much better care of myself now, especially when I'm in trouble. I’ll work out more, and let the endorphins kick into hyperdrive. I’ll pray more, and meditate more, and do some yoga, even though I’m as tight as a piano wire. I’ll get in a few extra al-anon meetings, and talk to people about where I’m at instead of keeping it inside. I’ll write about it now too, and share it here. It all helps. And I move out of it much quicker than I used to. I don’t stay there long anymore. That alone is reason to be hopeful and buoyant.
            Maybe someday this feeling will go away and never come back. And then again, maybe I’ll have to deal with it for the rest of my life.
            If it does keep coming back, though, I’ll tell you something I’m actually looking forward to. And that’s being in bed some night with a woman I love and telling her about this dream. Sharing, for the first time in my life with my lover, this positively awful nightmare and that positively awful place that I can still sometimes go. Because I’m no longer afraid to be so vulnerable. I’m no longer ashamed to admit that some nights, I need to just crawl into her soft embrace and absolutely melt into her warm, loving body. Letting myself completely go. Breaking down if I have to. Crying if I need to. While she holds me, listens, and loves me back to the present. Back to a time and place where I can share the nightmare of the round mountain with the woman I love. Back to a time and place where I don’t have to go through this alone, and I can finally ask somebody for help.

    ©2008 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a Round Mountain full of Wrongs) Reserved.

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