the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: dreams

Rocket Man

Today, I was reading about self-acceptance.

Wikipedia definition: Self-acceptance is defined as affirmation or acceptance of self in spite of weaknesses or deficiencies.

The power of this concept is striking, but how does this affect the way we thing about our hopes and dreams?   And if we do have certain weaknesses and deficiencies, does this there are some things we can do and some that we cannot do.    If we know we are terrified of snakes, should we try to conquer the fear and become a zookeeper, or just say no to that trip to the Amazon?  We tell our children that they can do anything if they dream hard enough, but at what point do we stop telling ourselves the same thing, and accept our position in society?  Do we give ourselves to a certain age, say 35, to achieve all of our dreams, and if not, should we just accept our lot, and be happy be with it.

It amused me that the first thought to came to mind when thinking about self-acceptance was my own childhood dream — to become an astronaut. You know the story — child of the 1970’s, Apollo, Star Wars, Star Trek, Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”  Who is the most important Neil in world history? No, not Neil Sedaka.   It’s Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. When I would hear his name in elementary school, I would feel a tinge of pride.

My Facebook update this morning: What do people think of the term “self-acceptance? New Age BS or the key to it all? Does it mean accepting your limitations? Don’t we live in a culture that says we can do it and have it ALL if we believe in it?

After receiving a number of intelligent (and not so intelligent) comments, I wrote:

Should I give up my dream of ever being an astronaut, considering my allergies?

Judy replied:

I think that sounds like a plan, but allergies don’t factor into it – unless you majored in aeronautical engineering and became a pilot recently.

She was right.  Tough love.  I will never become an astronaut.

Did this realization make me make me sad?

Not really.  To the adult-self, being an astronaut seems boring.  My interest in space has lessened over the years.  I ignored last week’s Venus passing the sun for the last time in our lifetime so I could watch “The Bachelorette” on TV instead.   Our interests change over time.

Before I sat down to write this post, I create two lists on my laptop:

List #1 –Dreams and Follies that I Still Hope to Achieve

List #2 — Accepting the Limitations of Who I Am and What I Should Give Up as a Dream

LIST #1 was easy.

1) I can write a best-selling book. Didn’t Jenny Lawson just do that? Why not me?

2) I can run a marathon. If I wanted to, I could train hard enough.  Of course I am lazy and unmotivated.  But if I WANTED TO —

3)  I can have a three-some with two hot babes. Why not?

The list of  possible dreams came flowing from my brain right to the keyboard –from being a father to ringing the bell at NASDAQ.

And then it was time for the list of my limitations.  What are my faults?  What will I never be able to do?   Can I still be happy accepting myself as an imperfect person who is just not good enough in so many ways?  Does accepting my foibles mean not trying to change them?

This is where the trouble began.  It was impossible to write this list.

1) Because of my physical and educational and emotional limitations, I will never be an…

I wanted to write… astronaut, but I just couldn’t do it. Maybe Ray Bradbury, RIP, would understand how I felt.   If I wrote it out, it would become a reality, and that would mean killing some childish fantasy, one that I don’t even want to achieve anymore. The “I CAN DO ANYTHING” mentality of American culture is so ingrained in my blood, that making a list of my limitations seemed almost… well, anti-American!

“Why can’t I be an astronaut?” I asked myself.

I immediately came up with several ways that I could become an astronaut.  I could buckle down and get a Masters in Astrophysics. I could move to Houston and get a job with SpaceCamp. I could become a traitor to my country and become Iran’s first astronaut, pissing on the American flag from space as a publicity stunt in support of the Iranian regime. I could focus on making A LOT of money for the next twenty years — I would need BILLIONS of $$$ — so I could buy my way into one of those Russian space trips for hire.   These scenarios are unlikely, but they are POSSIBLE.  There was no reason to kill my dream.

Will I ever become an astronaut, the Rocket Man of my childhood, the second most famous Neil in space history?! Probably not.   Perhaps my biggest limitation, the area of self-acceptance that I need the most work in, is about my own lack of self-acceptance.

If I were smarter, I would remember my first trip to Denver, Colorado — the Mile High city, and how I ended up spending all day in an “oxygen bar” because of my inability to deal with the high altitude.

Do I really want to go into Space?  Do I want to pee in my suit and drink that awful Tang?

Perhaps I am still a child at heart, not ready for adult self-acceptance.

I still believe that one day I will be an astronaut.

Or at least write a story about it.

Dreaming About Right Field

Valentine’s Day was now over. I went to sleep late. In the middle of the night, I had a dream. At first, it seemed inspirational — maybe about love? taking chances? — and then it turned into a nightmare.

I just got a job with the LA Dodgers farm team in Florida (I think they are in Arizona now, right?), which is pretty good in this bad economy. It was our first game of the season. Tommy Lasorda (!) gave us a rousing speech, saying there was no room for defeat. It was difficult for me not to laugh during his over-the-top statements about the importance of our mission. I was sitting next to a Christine F. from elementary school, who was now an attractive attorney. In fact the whole team consisted of friends from my past, some still twelve years old, and others now grown up.

“Kramer, get in there!’ said Lasorda. “You’re right field.”

I went out onto the baseball field. I was the last one out. Players were throwing baseballs back and forth. The grass was bright green, and the sunshine was bothering my eyes. I had no idea where to go. I was not sure WHICH side was right field. Was it like stage left? Was it the side I was facing, or from the POV of the field facing home plate? I started to panic. Steve W., someone I have not seen since sleepaway camp years ago, was playing first base. He was always a good athlete.

“Neil, take off your winter coat and winter hat. Are you nuts? You can’t play wearing that!”

I woke up with a headache.

Sophia’s Dream


Sophia and I had the worst flight back to Los Angeles. Sophia had a cold. The obnoxious couple in front of us had a crying baby. The airplane was cramped. When we arrived in Los Angeles, LAX was backed up because of the RAIN! We waited in the airplane for two and half hours!

This morning, back at Redondo Beach, Sophia is sick in bed, drugged up on cold medicine. She turned to me as she woke up from an unrestful sleep.

Sophia: “I had a weird dream. But it was so vivid. Like it was real.”

Neil: “About what?”

Sophia: “About the laptop. It was broken.”

Neil: “A virus?”

Sophia: “No, it was physically broken. And I really wanted to use the laptop, but every time I would lift up the top, it would just fall down and do nothing. Like it was weak. It was totally frustrating.”

Neil: “Could you turn it on?”

Sophia: “Of course I can turn it on, that’s not the problem. I kept working on it, over and over again, trying to keep it up. It was as if my life was depending on it. I kept on trying to prop it up. But the top would just fall down, useless. Up, down, up, down. And then I got tired of trying to make it go up, because it would just stay up for a second, then flop down again.”

Neil: “That’s a weird dream to have about your laptop.”

Sophia: “Yeah, it was especially weird because I was actually trying to use YOUR laptop.”

Neil: “My laptop?”

Sophia: “Isn’t that weird? Why would I have this dream?”

Neil: “Hmmm… You know, maybe you should take another Contac, go back to sleep, and hopefully you’ll forget we ever had this conversation.”

P.S. — Hey, what do you want? I can’t write heartfelt pieces about Kissena Boulevard forever!

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