On the morning of December 7th, 2016 I had a series of dreams. A series of dreams is not uncommon for me, and there was nothing particularly remarkable about this set except what I would in this case call, the finale.
The last of my dreams that morning was so filmic, so detailed and rich I feel compelled to write it down.
I was bolting up the stairs in a city, that I came to think of as Paris. I have not yet been to Paris in my lifetime, but I am an avid reader and film watcher, and as a child, I loved “The Best Of Life” book that we had. I loved that book so much that I think I alone may have worn it out and broken it’s spine by looking intently at each of the iconic images. (The American soldier leaning back a female for a kiss on VE Day, Marilyn Monroe’s sultry eyes and platinum hair, the young Vietnamese girl running naked down the street of her burning village…)
These images, along with the current postings on Facebook reminding of us of the Rise of the Third Reich, the filmmaking of Quentin Tarantino, the wordsmithing of Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See” and more, in some way they all my made their way in some part into my dream…
Up off the street, running from some unknown terror, some political force of fear, I burst into an apartment. There just beyond the French doors and softly billowing curtains were two men wearing dungarees, naked from the waist up, heads wrapped in black bandanas to keep the sweat out of their eyes.
The room was hot, it was a warm summer day, the windows were open and before the windows were set two oily black machine guns.
The men, who I have come to dub as Jacques and Fredi, were smoking cigarettes, the cigarettes dangled from their mouths, a bit like Humphrey Bogart. In fact, the men were a bit reminiscent of Bogart: Craggy-faced, well-built torsos, these men were fit and vigorous. These men were a part of the Resistance.
These men were well over 80 years old.
When I realized their actual age, and just what it was that they were doing: Fighting in the everloving Resistance, I woke up.
I mean I literally woke up.
I woke up knowing that now is the time to listen to our elders.
I have lived in a lifetime of blessed, comforting, relative, Peace.
Yes, wars have been fought in my lifetime.
But I have been quite shielded. Dare I use the word privileged? Yes. I live a life of relative ease.
Jacques and Fredi did not.
They do not. They live on in my dreams, my active mind now, reminding me that I must “man my guns.”
These elderly beings, the Fighters of the Resistance are alive and well and prepared to man guns regardless of their age to fight oppression. Their unspoken message to me was clear. Complacency is not an option.
I do not claim to portend the future. I do not know if the political tides of change here in the U.S. are as loathsome as those of post-World War I Germany, but enough of my thoughtful, intelligent friends feel threatened enough to think it just may be the case.
And Jacques and Fredi are preparing. They are calm, and primed, ready at the helm, or in this case, they are willing to do what needs to be done from their neighborhood window. They are not thugs. Nor despite their age are they blind or deaf or hardened to the world. They stood before me preparing as they felt called to do.
These men woke me up on the 74th anniversary of Midway. Their soulful eyes inviting me to take action, not to fight or take up arms per say, although who knows what I may feel called to do? Who knows what any of us will do in the coming months and years?
Let me be clear, they did not speak. They did not offer to teach me to shoot. The lesson was not that.
The unspoken message was to be vigilant. To listen. These men were quietly preparing. They were watching, listening, and ready to fight for what they believe in.
A metaphorical call to arms. A call to action, which does not necessarily mean violence or harsh opposition.
A metaphorical reminder to listen to the stories of those who have lived through are living through turbulent times. To listen, not just to others, but also to what our own hearts are telling us.
When I was about nine years old, my Mom and I watched some sort of history show on WWII, and I could not stop crying afterward. Hitler and the mass destruction he undertook left an indelible mark on me. The images of bodies piled up, the camps and starving survivors.
We are nearing a time when very few of those survivors remain. The vets of WWII they are in the nineties now.
There was a time not all that long ago that I found myself saying, “I cannot watch another movie on the Holocaust.” I needed a break.
Ha! I needed a break. The mantra of these films is “Never Forget.”
As an artist, a creative, it is my job to tell these stories. To listen with care and compassion to others’ stories, then to share them. I do not know when or how these stories will come to me. I do not know how I will bring them to life–whether it will be a dance, a poem, an essay a monologue, play or film, or short story but I do know, my primary “arms” the arms I am called to are the Arts.
I will not bow down in the face of what is to come.
I will honor my elders. I will honor the people I dream of, I will listen to your story if you tell me.
I will fold you in my “arms” and fly in the face of fear with what I create.
And Jacques and Fredi?
They are smiling, waiting, waiting, squinting down the sights of the arms prepared to do what they are called to do.
What will you do?