Ending the dream

My cleats are on tight, my ankles are taped up, pads in place and I’m enjoying the final moments before walking out that door to the sounds of cheers, high school bands and referee whistles. The musty, sweaty smells of the locker room will soon change to more pleasant crisp fall air and concession stand nachos.
Coach has just given his final pre-game speech, we’ve prayed and my teammates have begun to file out the door. I can already hear the bands, their trumpets muffled through the concrete wall still.
I’m ready to go … this build up has always been one of the more exciting parts of high school football … a sport I started playing when I was 6. And this is Texas, where high school football is king.
In my small town of 500-plus, the world revolves around Friday nights in the fall. I’m a senior in high school, and I know the games are counting down to just a handful. After this, I’ll never don a helmet again.
Speaking of helmet … I can’t seem to find mine.
The last few of my teammates are heading out the door, followed by the waterboys and coaches … and I can’t find my helmet. I know it was in my hands a few moments ago.
Panic sets in.
I search everywhere for my helmet … probably the one piece of equipment I wouldn’t be able to step on the field without. The time begins to blur … and before I know it, the game has begun. My team is playing.
I’m helmetless.
I’m angry.
I wake up.

So it was all a dream. A vivid, frustrating dream.
And a dream I’ve had more than a dozen times since I last stepped on a varsity football field in 1993.
Oh, sometimes it’s different. Sometimes I’m missing my cleats and I’m on the field in socks … watching the action up close but not able to get in because coach won’t let me play without shoes.
Sometimes, the team leaves without me. Sometimes, I learn about the game as it’s being played … as if I had forgotten football was played on Fridays.
It’s the only recurring dream I’ve had … at least the only one I can remember. And I most recently had this dream again a few weeks back.
After the most recent dream, I looked up “recurring dreams” on the trusty Google and learned that my mind is trying to tell me something with these dreams.

“The message in recurring dreams may be so important and/or powerful that it refuses to go away. The frequent repetition of such dreams forces you to pay attention and confront the dream. It is desperately trying to tell you something. Such dreams are often nightmarish or frightening in their content, which also helps you to take notice and pay attention to them.”
— dreammoods.com

I suppose I should be thankful that this dream isn’t necessarily a nightmare, but I’m still having trouble finding out what this “message” is supposed to be.
The website goes on to provide tips to “overcome your recurring dreams,” with some of those tips being:

• To start to understand your recurring dream, you must be willing to accept some sort of change or undergo a transformation.
• Look at the dream from an objective point of view. Try to get beyond the emotional and reactive elements of the dream and get down to the symbolic images.

To begin to understand these dreams, you must first know about my love of football — a subject I’ve written about in this column on several occasions. When I was 2, I used chess men as football players. I learned to read from the sports page. I began playing tackle football at age 6.
I was never a big kid, and this always made me try harder. The one thing I had going for me was speed, and in high school … after a minor growth spurt my junior year … I had a pretty decent varsity career as a wide receiver and cornerback.
Nothing to get the college scouts crazy, mind you … but enough to get the cheerleaders to notice once or twice. In high school, sometimes that’s all that matters.
I hated that it ended, though I never tried to “relive my youth” … save for joining a flag football league a few years in college. That was more for fun than fighting dream demons.
But if I’m to look at these dreams from an “objective” point of view, I suppose I would tell myself that the dream is about more than football. There’s something out there I want to be a part of, I’d tell myself, and there’s something keeping me from doing it.
It’s odd … I’m a happy guy with an amazing family, great job and great friends.

“The repetitive patterns in your dream reveal some of the most valuable information about yourself. “
— dreammoods.com

I’ve never been one to embrace symbolism in things. Maybe these dreams are just mind tricks. Maybe they mean nothing.
Maybe they mean everything.
Rather than forking out the big bucks to get a shrink to analyze me, I’m offering myself to your free advice. If you can tell me why I’m having these dreams, e-mail me at bliggett@sanfordherald.com.
I know some of you will take this opportunity to just tell me I’m a big dork, but I’ll listen to anything and everything that comes my way.
Perhaps one of these days, I’ll get in the game. I just hope the dream doesn’t have me breaking my ankle.

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