From the Outside

I had a nice old colonial house that sat in a clearing with clusters of weeds growing around the foundation, but for some reason I always slept on a straw mat laid out on the front lawn, curled up in a wool blanket that had gathered thistles and thorns. There was something appealing about forsaking the shelter of the house in exchange for being out in the open air, under the stars, exposed to the elements, and all just mere feet from my door.

One morning I awoke to find a small group of people gaping in at the windows at the corner of the house beside the front door. I wasn’t bothered at all by the impropriety. I just rubbed my eyes and crawled out from under my blankets. I heard them complimenting the rustic furnishings, the carvings on the wood, the inviting comfort of the interior. There was a desk there beneath the windows, nested in the little nook at the foot of the stairs. There were wooden figurines scattered on the desk, their fine details painted to various degrees with a toothpick and a set of acrylic paints. A magnifying glass on a metal crane shined a light down on this cluttered work space.

I fell in along the back of this clustered group, almost impersonally partaking in their gaping admiration of my house’s charming interior. But I knew I was going to have to tell them the truth. I wasn’t responsible for any of it. The previous occupant had done all of that. All I had ever done was hang some paintings on the walls.

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7 thoughts on “From the Outside

  1. So glad to see you back, Bryan. The fact of your posting means as much to me as its content, though this too is especially welcome & one of your best. Is it coincidence or a form of homage, that after reading this, I was awakened twice in the night by dreams?

    In both cases they caused such anxiety that I burst forth from sleep. In the first, I was trying to get to the theatre, to play my part in a Shakespeare play, due to start at 7.30. Managed to leave the house at 7.15. Only then did I start to think about my costume, lines, character. I had no idea about any of them, nor indeed the title of the play. All I could remember was that the director had told us rehearsals would not be needed, to ensure that we'd act with a fresh spontaneity. It must have been a dream about Life, and the challenges of not having a plan.

    Hm. Your dream is more interesting. It sounds like humility and renunciation, at the same time as appreciating, as if from the outside, your own gifts.

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  2. Actually, I had a similar dream to that once, years ago. I had to get to the theater at a certain hour in the evening for a performance, but I was lost in the middle of nowhere on a bicycle. But I made it there on time somehow. It wasn't Shakespeare, but rather some big musical production.

    It felt like there was something final about it, like this last “hoorah” or the last big blowout or last big show. Kind of like a surreal scene in a movie where the main character shows up at a theater at the end and everyone he's ever known is there on stage to see him off before one of those big rolling glittery staircases appears on stage and he ascends it into the clouds.

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  3. Nice to see you back! I too suffer from dream ADD, which is why you won't see me posting about any of my dreams.

    This is a great look at your humility. In a very literal sense I feel like this when people come over to my house. It used to be my brother-in-law's and he's a professional interior designer, so of course it looks really nice. People compliment me on the design and I usually say, “I'm just flattered that you think I could even possibly have come up with this.”

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