I am in a theatre style room. I know the process we're engaged in is a "Choices" one. The purpose is to find the day hope died for each of us. We sit in the seats, the facilitators invite each one of us up, one by one, to act out the event they describe to us. The facilitators know what's going on. We don't. As each person comes up on stage, they are given a set of instructions about where to go on the stage, but as they try to get to that spot, the facilitators group together, keep blocking his or her path. Where ever she moves, they crowd around her, not letting her break through.
I don't like the feeling of not being part of the people who 'know'. The one's who have the answers, so I sneak onto the stage and try to insert myself amongst the facilitators and those who have completed the game. But, I'm caught and am sent back to my seat in the theatre amongst the others who have not yet gone through the game.
I sit in the audience and watch. I can feel anxiety rising in me. I don't want to be hemmed in. I don't want to play the game and find, The Day Hope Died. One of the coaches comes to sit with me. I recognize her. She's a woman from work. She smiles and says, "How are you doing?"
"Ok," I reply. "This looks interesting." I feign boredom. Ease.
"Yeah," she says. She points to the people on stage. They're huddled together in small groups, talking, looking out of their huddle at those of us sitting in the audience. "They're talking about you," she says.
I laugh. "No they're not."
"How do you know?"
I laugh again. Nervously. "Of course they're not."
Another person is about to begin the game. As they walk up onto the stage, a group of para-military dressed men rise up from the shadows at the bottom of the stage. Their eyes are hard. Their look mean and angry. They are the new 'blockers'. They will keep each of us from getting to our goals.
I start to cry. The men look angry. Mean. I don't want to play the game.
I wake up.
When I was about 11 years old, we moved from Canada back to France. As our plane was banking to land at the airport in Metz, I looked out the window and saw tidy farmers fields laid out like a patchwork quilt. The land looked serene. Calm. I remember thinking, I must remember this moment. I had lots of penpals around the world and quickly jotted off a note to a pal in Australia.
A driver met us at the airport and drove us to our hotel. On the way, he told my father stories about the uprisings in Algeria, and the unrest on French streets. I remember the story he told of a group of Algerian activists walking into a restaurant, opening fire and killing several patrons. I sat in the back seat of the car, scared. frightened. Confused. As we drove through the city, we saw soldiers on every corner. Guns slung over their shoulders. Mean, scowly looks on their faces.
That night in our hotel I woke crying. My mother asked me what was wrong and I told her, I don't want to live in France. I want to go back to Canada.
My father woke up. He was angry with me for crying about such a stupid thing. Be quiet. Quit being a baby. Your imagination is running wild. You're not going to get killed.
My fear of my father's anger was greater than my fear of being shot by a random stranger. I shut up. And, I quit writing to my penpals. I didn't dare speak or write about my fear again.
When I awoke from my dream this morning, that vignette popped into my mind. If I had played the game in my dream, I know it would have been, The Day Hope Died.
Forty years later, I awaken to the truth. I didn't die by a gunshot from an angry Algerian in France. I wasn't the victim of a random, drive-by shooting caused by displaced citizens angry with the treatment of their government. No one is blocking me from making my dreams come true, unless I let them.
I am free.
I am blessed.