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May 2017
So I have this reoccurring dream where
I rush to my childhood home and
Open my bedroom door, immediately hit with the familiarity of the smell of day old crackers masked by Febreze.
My eyes search to find a cage full of rats.
I have never owned a rat.
Yet, there are about 20 of the fuzzy little guys
Gnawing at the bars of the cage, pink paws grabbing and clutching, exasperated squeaks escaping their mouths as if to say “Help me!” or “Welcome home!”, my subconscious isn’t smart enough to clarify which.
I open the cage,
A few of them are dead.
Stiff. Small. Dead.
Instead of waiting to mourn
I quickly scoop up the others in my arms
Cuddling them close.
The scenery changes to a pirate ship in the way that dreams do.
Slowly and in a way that sort of makes you dizzy but your dream self doesn’t even notice and it only starts to mess you up when you’re thinking about it while eating Froot Loops two days later.
The rats are afraid and hurry out of my arms
I desperately try to scramble them up
But one by one they all fall overboard.

Now, I aced AP Psychology, so I know how to interpret this
There are 3 theories on dreams.
Information processing theory says dreams sort, sift, and fix a day's experience into memories.
I don’t remember losing my precious rats on a pirate ship.
So that isn’t it.

Problem solving theory says dreams are the continuity of waking thought but without the constraints of logic or realism. That dreams are meant for solving your problems. It suggests my rats are metaphors. I love rats, and if rats are problems, what does that say about me? That I keep trying to hold my issues and insecurities close to me but can’t juggle them all? That all my chances keep falling and dying and I’m losing my sense of self. That I need a reason to be the victim in every situation so I will never have to take responsibility for my actions and I can pretend like my faults never happened. And what about the pirate ship? Like, I don’t even like pirates so why would I put myself in a place I hate and then cling to disgusting faults like they’re precious. None of this makes sense, except maybe it does and I refuse to admit it, I’m in denial, I don’t want to get better I want to stay in this awful cycle forever.

But activation synthesis theory says dreams are a product of activity in the brain. The cerebral cortex attempts to make sense of neural firings by creating a story. In other words, dreams have no meaning. So this whole poem.
Is worthless.

As worthless as a rat.
A small. Fuzzy. Loving.
Yet short-lived rat.
October 2016
Alec Boardman
Written by
Alec Boardman  18/Trans Male/Nebraska
(18/Trans Male/Nebraska)   
521
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