I used to have a professional job. There were set hours. I showed up at the same time every day. I left at the same time every day. I wore a skirt. Sometimes I wore slacks. I brought my lunch. I didn’t have a window in my office. And you know what, I didn’t really care.
It was a good job. Actually it was a great job, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. Not all of the time. I worked with great people and we had a clear mission and we made people’s lives better. Yet every day I walked over to the library and sulked. I browsed the library shelves, not sure what I was looking for. I kept believing I was trying to find a book.
Guess what? I was, but it hadn’t been written yet.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with dreams. I had a dream journal and looked for symbols and interpreted them. This started when I was only seven years old. Thanks to my detailed recordings of these dreams, I still remember some of them.
There was one I had where I boarded a train and then got news that my older brother had died. When a person dreams a loved one dies, those are usually considered nightmares. This one wasn’t. I awoke from that dream feeling inspired. In the dream, just before he died, my brother told me, “Follow your heart.” It was a sentimental thought, and at the time, it was not something my snotty-nosed teenage brother would have said to me. But we were going to grow up, and things were going to change.
People who work inside of box-shaped buildings need vacations. Cruises were designed for these people. I had been a professional for just under 10 years when I made plans to travel to Seattle for vacation—on a train. I first went to the library and stocked my bag with books, none of which I would end up reading. Then I drove to the station and boarded the train, which would zip along the Oregon terrain and let me off in one of the most iconic Pacific Northwest cities.
Before the train had even taken off I got a call. My brother had died. He’d gone to sleep and hadn’t awoken. He was 35. I went to Seattle, but it didn’t feel like a vacation.
After David’s funeral, I returned to my professional job. On my lunch breaks, I went to the library. I kept searching for that book. Was it in the self-help section? Or the fiction section? I browsed endlessly. I’d even close my eyes and walk, running my fingers over the spines of the books, and then I’d randomly stop. The book I chose was never the right one. None of them were the one I was looking for, but I still didn’t know that.
And the dream haunted me now, the one I had when I was a child. I’ve always been a little clairvoyant, but it was spooky to me that a dream foretold an event that happened over 20 years later. “Follow your heart,” my brother had said in the dream.
I was sitting in a meeting at my professional job. It was a meeting about an upcoming meeting, we were going to have, to discuss meeting-type-stuff. The details are quite fuzzy. But what isn’t fuzzy was a very real fear that crept into my bones. Before I realized it, I was shaking and my face lost all color. My skin was clammy, and I was certain I was about to explode with this brand new emotion: anxiety. Right there in front of my boss and my boss’s boss and a half a dozen colleagues, I was having a full blown panic attack. And the thought that triggered it was, “What if I go to sleep tonight and die?”
Dying is a scary thought for most. Dying means you leave your loved ones behind. You leave them to grieve. You are done. No more trips around the track of life. But for me, there was something else. That book. I hadn’t found that book. Book. Book. Books. There was something inside me and I was vibrating with anxiety because I was afraid I’d die without letting it out. I was afraid I was going to die before I told my story(ies).
I stopped going to the library after that. The book I wanted wasn’t there. It wasn’t at any library or any bookstore. It was inside of me.
Today, I write stories about people who lay down at night and do extraordinary things with their dreaming abilities. They go places, real places. They interact with real people. When the people in my books dream, they change the world around them, and they’re powerful people outside of their dreams. They have the powers to see the future, to communicate telepathically, or move objects with their minds. The possibilities are limitless. And really, looking back, it makes sense that I write Dream Traveler books. How could I write about anything else but sleep, dreams, and the unexplainable? It’s like I was being honed for this role all my life.
I think back to the dream I had when I was seven. “Follow your heart,” my brother had said. And then, almost 20 years later, he laid down to sleep and died. And it took that experience to wake me up. I finally took his advice. I followed my heart.
I don’t work in a professional occupation anymore. There aren’t set hours. I wear yoga pants. My colleague purrs a lot. And on my lunch breaks, I sit with a toddler and discuss unicorns and monkeys, and train rides we’ll take one day. I don’t browse the library anymore. I found the books I was looking for. I wrote them. And at night I curl up and go to sleep, always looking forward to messages in my dreams.
Previously published at http://www.sarahnoffke.com/