those ain’t my shirts

| October 12, 2017 | 6 Replies

I dream that the art teacher is unexpectedly leaving the school where we’ve taught. I’m not teaching there any longer, but I’m there when she is gathering her things to go.

She tells me that the students were working on tie-dying t-shirts. She asks me to find the bins of shirts and make sure the next teacher knows what to do. She hugs me and walks out the door.

After that, friends come and go from the room, asking me questions and trying to engage in meaningful conversation. All the while, I am searching for the bins of t-shirts. I put up my best performance of listening, but I feel anxious to complete the task I’ve been assigned.

When I finally find the shirts, I am struck by a strange dissatisfaction. The new teacher may or may not decide to carry the project forward. I can show her the shirts, but my “help” is as likely to stress her out as it is to benefit her.

As I wake up in the morning, I realize that I often live my life anxiously attending to someone else’s priority. People I care about come and go, eager to connect with me, and I barely see or hear them. I think that accomplishing the urgent task will prove my worth – or at least lend me a brief feeling of triumph – but it never does.

I let the dream sink in. The image remains vivid in my mind: plastic bins filled with t-shirts. It will take time and it will take pausing, but I want to come back to that image again and again, until I’ve had ample practice. I want to look at those bins and think, Those ain’t my shirts.

okay, this is not the image from my dream. it’s just the only picture I have of shirts. at least they’re David’s shirts, so it’s true that they ain’t mine.

Category: friends, journey, remaining calm

Hannah Lynn Mell

About the Author ()

Hannah Lynn Mell grew up a missionary kid in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Now she lives in Rowley, Massachusetts with her exquisitely kind husband David, their plucky three-legged cat Thomas, and a needy-yet-lovable dachshund named Birdie. She's worked with singers since 1998 and loves to help people of all ages free their voices.

Comments (6)

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  1. I liked this one Hannah. Thanks- and an interesting insight into dreams and motivations.

  2. Thanks, Doug! It was a strange little dream, but it felt significant to me.

  3. peter stewart says:

    Thanks for sharing, Hannah’
    Let this dream sink in.
    It is huge.
    I am not a ” human doing ”
    I am a ” human being.”
    Love Peter

    • Oo, I love this reminder. I feel like it’s easy to be glib when I say “I’m a human being, not a human doing”…it is definitely something that needs to be physically sensed. When I sit still and breathe into that truth, I feel capable of encountering my actual life. What a gift that is. I actually just paused for a minute and took in the day, felt my chilly fingers and the warm blanket on my lap, smelled the candle I’ve lit. Coming from a place of being is a challenge in our screen-centered world.

  4. Mama says:

    You got that right!! It is most significant!

    I’d love to help.
    IF I can.

    But let my Yes be yes
    my No be no

    searching for Integrity

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