Earlier this year, I had a dream. Not a dream in the Martin Luther King Jr. sense of the word, but in the "Freudian Wonderland" sense.
For whatever reason, I usually don't remember my dreams. Most of the time it's like I don't even have them. It's just go to bed; nothing, nothing, nothing... and wake up. The joke I tell myself is that I dream so much during the day that my dream center is too tired to bother at night.
Because of the nothing, when I do remember any dreams --I pay attention to them. Examine them for meaning, say. Of course most of them come off like my brain running a regular diagnostic test. There does not seem to be much of anything to parse.
Then... there are the others. The ones where my subconscious seems to step out from behind the curtain and state what it wants me to know in no uncertain terms. This has happened now... three times? Well, twice for sure.
I first noticed the phenomenon when I was twenty. There was a girl I was quite interested in who was still in high school (Shut up). This girl, we'll call her Grace, went on a choir/band trip to Virginia Beach for a competition.
The morning of the day her class arrived at the hotel in Virginia Beach, I had a dream: Singer k.d. lang's face appeared on the palm of my left hand and said, "Today at three o'clock in the afternoon, Grace will have sex with another man." Then I woke up.
The day was spent with me feeling a bit torn. On the one hand, I didn't like the idea of Grace with anyone else. On the other, wouldn't it be supremely weird if my dream turned out to be spot on?
That night, Grace called me up at seven. I immediately told her about my dream and asked her if it was correct. Yes, it was, even down to the time of day. Was I mad with her? Not really. We weren't serious or anything and I was still a bit jazzed over the strange occurrence of the morning.
In fact I was so thrilled that I'd gotten a message from Something, that I paid very little attention to the actual content of what it was telling me. In my youthful naivete I believed the event indicated that Grace and I had some sort of deep connection. Now? I think the dream was meant to serve as a warning to me. (Incidentally, Grace and I are still friends. As for our relationship, it's stayed 3:00 in Virginia Beach ever since.)
Years pass. In May of this year, I had another dream of a very different nature:
It's night. I am outside under the sky standing in the center of a circle.
People surround me on the outer rim. They dance, chant, and beat drums. Some have torches, others swing whirling braziers of fire. The blood of a freshly killed animal is on the wind and in the lungs of everyone present.
I'm scared, and don't know what's happening, or why. Clearly I'm the focus of what's transpiring, but I'm not sure if that's such a good thing.
A shaman enters the circle with me. He's all creeped out in the current fashion of bones and mystic regalia.
The chanting, the dancing, the drumming all build and intensify. My heart slides into an unrelenting Art Blakey solo. Then the shaman speaks. He intones slowly and is not unsure of the words:
You were given a Responsibility.
You are running out of time.
You will not live forever.
BOOM! Everything STOPS, and I wake up. For the next three days I was by turns intrigued and terrified over the dream. My main thoughts were, What the hell was that? and Just how much time do I have?
Which brings us up to Right Now. After much consideration, I have decided that I am going to be quitting my job at the library soonish. I don't know when or how, but before my 36th birthday on June 16th, 2006 for certain; quicker than that when I figure out the means.
Now before you all launch into me, I know what I'm saying sounds bizarre. "How can you afford to quit your job?" Well, um, I can't.
Getting another 'straight job' is also not a solution. The problem with those jobs is that they value conformity over excellence. Try as I might, I am just hopeless at conforming. I stick out like a sore thumb in a sargasso of clawhammers. And frankly? I am thoroughly sick of taking on work that requires me to stifle the best most valuable parts of myself in favor of a bland automaton type 'productivity.'
So no new straight job. Neither do I feel I can afford to ignore either the dream or my gut feeling on this. But do I really have to quit? What purpose does that serve?
It's like this:
Life is short. Every hour spent doing things that bore me senseless and dull my imagination is an hour I'm going to regret on my deathbed. Looking back on even this much life it's never been the stupidly brave things I've done that I regret --always the chances not taken in favor of some foolish sense of security.
Anyway, this post is not about giving answers. I don't have any answers yet. But I am asking the questions right now, and because I've got a big fucking brain I expect that I will come up with some workable answers in time.
(As an aside, do you know what the life of a genius is like? I'll tell you: Everyone goes on and on about how smart so-and-so is... until he or she says something that the other party disagrees with. Then said genius is felt to be misguided or still has a lot to learn. This is true even if both parties agree that one is a genius and the other is not, by the way.)
Jack, I can hear you saying, what is your responsibility anyway? Simple: To be a writer and create. To have the thoughts that others can't and go to the places in my imagination that others would shrink away from.
Maybe it doesn't sound like much to you. But it is all that I have been entrusted with, and it is big enough.
In my more fanciful moments I'd say that the message in my dream was given to me by the gods. More likely, it's just my subconscious making obvious something I already knew on a very deep level. It's no matter either way. As Alan Moore wrote, "The one place gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity."
So there you have it. Do I sound a little pretentious to you? Well, okay then. I warned you at the beginning that I was probably going to sound like an ass. You have only yourself to blame for reading this far. Truthfully, I feel somewhat ridiculous writing about it. But there's a great sense of relief too.
How about that?