I never remember my dreams. I blame it on Gorilla man. He shocks me awake with such jangling rudeness that dreams scatter like ashes in the wind. Gorilla man is my alarm clock, a Christmas gift given to me by my 19-year-old son. He is made of brown plastic, and stands about nine inches tall – the monkey, not my son – and at the designated hour, gorilla man begins to dance and shout frenzied unintelligible phrases, as rap music blasts from his speaker.
Because of its appalling decibel level, the gift was meant as a joke, but since I had no other working alarm, and have been known to sleep through the warm fuzzy variety, I decided to give this one a try. It works quite well. Believe me there is no going back to sleep after the gorilla man calls. Unfortunately, it has the same effect on everyone else in the vicinity, especially when, in my comatose fumbling, I knock it off the nightstand and under the bed where it continues to shriek and dance.
My lace curtains have never been the same after the cat tried to climb them that first gorilla-man morning. She doesn’t sleep with me anymore. Not that she was banished for shredding the curtains mind you – I didn’t blame her for her escape attempt. She has simply decided to spend her remaining eight lives as far from Gorilla man as possible. My husband, on the other hand has no choice, and has somehow learned to live with my early morning scramble. As for me, while rather wild-eyed, I appear on the curb at 6:00 a.m. to join the neighborhood-walking group. So, as Martha Stewart used to say, “Gorilla Man, it’s a good thing,” right?
Well, maybe. But the part about not remembering dreams is starting to bother me. I’m beginning to feel as if I’m missing something – something that means more to me now that it’s gone. Maybe, gorilla man is not “a good thing” after all. I know it wasn’t a good thing for the cat teetering atop the curtain rod. It took a long time to coax her back down.
Poor kitty, I remember feeling like that one day. Perched precariously on the arm of the couch, I watched in horror as the twin towers crumpled before my eyes. I felt like a gong had gone off in my head, and the clamor was so disorienting that I couldn’t formulate a proper response. Should I hide in the basement? Run down the street screaming? Or maybe join the cat at the top of the curtains. In retrospect, any of these actions would have made more sense than what actually happened in New York City on September 11, 2001. For hours I sat like a stone with eyes glued to the TV, and watched as our country met its own version of the gorilla man.
We were shocked into wakefulness, dumped from our warm beds and peaceful slumber, and sadly, while we as a nation fumbled about trying to make sense of this inconceivable turn of events, it seems that we lost some of our dreams. We became suspicious, and distrustful, and couldn’t help wondering about the person sitting next to us on the plane. We turned inward, focused on ourselves, and on the grave business of wrapping our loved ones in a steel arm of protection. For a while the altruistic flame in our collective spirits began to sputter.
But lately, it seems that we’ve begun to regroup. Americans are coming out of their foxholes. People have begun to raise their heads and look around, and are slowly beginning to tend the fire.
Not long ago a boy scout knocked on my door. He was working on his Eagle project – a car wash to raise money for storm victims in Haiti. I was to pledge a small amount for every car he and his friends washed, and this would go towards relief supplies. Tho$e boy$ wa$hed a lot of car$.
A grandmother in my neighborhood spends hours each day knitting hats and scarves for an orphanage. Her friend makes stuffed animals. A local group of army wives collect school supplies for an impoverished Afghan village, and Oprah spotlights groups like Doctors Without Borders.
The Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe the vast majority of Americans understand this concept now and live their lives accordingly.
Of course everyone wants things to be like they were before 9/11, unfortunately this can never be. We cannot go back to sleep now that the alarm has sounded, but we can adapt to this thing that has come upon us.
I’ve noticed something interesting lately. I’ve begun to wake up a few minutes before the alarm. I calmly reach over and diffuse the bomb, then ponder the dreams that once again waft through my mind. I believe I’ve learned to live with gorilla man, and our country will do the same, because America’s dreams are stronger than its fears.