The other night I had a dream, and right after waking up I ran to the keyboard and typed out as quickly as I could, through my blear, an abbreviated version of all that I could remember before it evaporated. I later examined the notes, and reconstructed as best I could how the dream unfolded.
When I was done, I realized to my dismay that I had not been able to be faithful to the dream, that I had added a great deal of material fabricated after the fact, but in a way that felt like it was in the same spirit even if I could not remember it word-for-word of moment-for-moment. The original was far less coherent, but far more magnetic in the way dreams are — they don't make sense outwardly, but they make sense inwardly. What I cobbled together ended up being more a jumping-off from the original, not a transcript from it. But here's what I wrote anyway.
I was in the company of a classic fantasy adventuring party — warrior, sorcerer, thief, etc. I wasn't a member of the party — it was more like I was just tagging along as a ghost witness of sorts. (The term "ghost witness", to my mind, feels like it was through this dream that I was provided with a firsthand view of what was going on.)
This adventuring party eased its way through a crevasse, somewhere deep underground, and came to a door. They didn't need the thief's skills to open it; it opened of its own accord.
Beyond the door was the office of what I took to be a professor, or perhaps a therapist, in a building many stories up somewhere in a big city. Windows on one wall admitted a skyful of daylight. The furnishings were all of the tastefully neutral IKEA variety.
Behind the desk sat a man whose physique and manner reminded me a little of the late actor Richard Libertini. He gestured for everyone to make themselves comfortable, closed the Macintosh laptop on his desk, folded his hands atop it, and spoke:
(Everything after this point is where my own construction from the dream takes over, and where the original dream is no longer fully retrievable. Where I have text in boldface are the pieces I remember distinctly as original.)
"Well, I'm not sure if any of this will help, but I'll tell you anyway.
"What's clear to me is that you no longer feel like you're part of this world, that you only belong to a part of its past. Not its present. Or, when you are part of its present, you're part of it only in a way that you hate. You're not yourselves, you're someone else's idea of who you are. You don't want to live as ideas. I don't have to convince you of that."
(At this point, I realized his voice was my voice, and I was speaking through him to them. The office and its environment eventually became replaced by a stream of other images, like a documentary of some kind where the voice-over and the imagery don't really match. This I remember distinctly, even if I don't remember the details themselves.)
"You may feel like you have no power right now," he/I said, "or power that's only laughable, but I don't believe that. You have the power to put down roots you don't even know how deep they go. That's not to be trifled with. You exist for this world in a way that even it doesn't know. That's a kind of power people don't even know they have, and even more so, that most people don't even know exists, don't even know holds sway over them.
"I can't tell you how to make the most of that power. You've got to walk out of here and find out. And I can't make sure that you do it; I don't have that kind of power over you or anyone else. Not even if they want it. And they do want it. They want someone to come in and show them the way, fix everything, put all the demons to bed. This never happens. Not even when you think it happens; all that's happened is someone has played a card trick on your spirit.
"I hate card tricks, actually. I hate them because once you know how they work, you realize how easily you've been fooled. They don't work because they're magic, they work because you just don't know how they work yet. You always have to be suspicious of people who give you an answer. You have to be willing to let people give you a question. And you have to be willing to let that question be something you might not be able to answer. Just let it be something that keeps pushing you.
"See, you have a quality that is incompatible with this moment in time. You exist most powerfully as a fantasy, a metaphor, not as anything literal — not as the way you most want to exist. You want to swing your very real axes and put them into the necks of very real enemies. You don't want to just exist as a story somewhere. Maybe someone else does; good for them. But that's not what you wanted, is it?
"Or maybe for you this is close enough to being what you know as a legend to work.
"You see, you know full well that today we don't like to dream. We take our dreams and we box them up and make them into little potted dream products. They taste good, don't they? That's the problem. They taste good, you eat them all the time, but that's all they are, a taste in the mouth. They're not really nutrition. You need dreams that are nutrition, not junk food. Even you need them.
"I'm not going to tell you that everything's going to be fine. Nobody wants to hear that and it never works anyway. Here's what I will say: you'll handle all this far better than you think you will. You already have, and you will again.
"I believe in all of you. Don't laugh. You don't even have to smile, you can just ... yes.
"So, where are you going after this? Anywhere interesting?"
There was more after that, but not anything I can relate coherently, not even as fragments.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind