I’ve been writing about my dreams for the past several months, mainly as a way to get back into consistent writing first thing in the morning.
Most dreams are short, worthy of only a paragraph or two. Today’s remembered dream was much more epic:
I was visiting a friend in a small country with fractured ethnic groups and violence. Tensions had reached the point of getting out of control.
A war broke out, with horrible bloodshed. My friend and I opened a doorway to a room that was like a cockpit to a plane, but in a building. Two war criminals were there. One was already dead. The other lay facing us, his face a bloody mess, clearly dying. He said something about a mercy kill, but the friend who was with me would have none of it, saying something about his evil being too great. We closed the door to allow him to suffer and die, alone.
The war was not going well for “the good guys.” Now I was at my friend’s home in the countryside where we hoped we would be safe. The house was full of refugees. We had all seen horror. It went unspoken.
Now the war was winding down. Our side had lost. It was only a matter of time before the enemy soldiers came to our refuge in the countryside. I was directing people to serve one another, where to find food, and clothing. I told them that I was a General. I felt like, and they seemed to recognize, that I was a man of high character. They listened to me.
A woman appeared, dressed in rags. She was tall and beautiful. We had stacks of clothes from the group, divided up, and ugly clothes, perhaps from a donation facility. I gave her (and her daughter?) some clothes that I thought might fit. All we had for her were the ugly second-hand clothes. I considered giving her some of my own jeans, but I was shorter; my clothes almost certainly wouldn’t have fit. This woman had previously been very fashionable. She was grateful to have clothing, but the irony of having so much abundance just weeks before, and now having to dress in second-hand clothing was palpable.
Fortunately we still had plenty of food. I was afraid that the victorious soldiers would come and plunder it, and leave all of us to starve. Sure enough, a truck approaches our compound. I worry about the food in our pantry; barely enough for us, but almost certainly abundant compared to the rest of the country.
Yet the truck doesn’t come to take food, but to deliver it: live cabbages. I could sense the air of superiority of those delivering the food: the victors, who were going to make the rest of us eat the lowly cabbage, barely subsistence food. And they weren’t about to unload the truck, which was stacked dangerously high.
I volunteered to unload the cabbages and, hopefully, distract the men from our abundant pantry, or from hurting my friends. I was obviously in great physical shape, and could climb the side of the truck to the top.
The leader of the truck group asked if I was a gymnast. I said no, and that I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to unload the cabbages, because I was short and would have trouble reaching over the top of the truck once I got dangerously high up the side.
The leader recognized that I was an American, and offered to assist me, if I were to fall. So I climbed up the side of the truck (apparently the only way to get to the food), but as I predicted, once I got there, my arms were too short to reach over the edge and get to the food.
But never mind: now the victorious enemy leader had grown fond of me. He was tall, and good-looking, and made some assumptions that I had probably simply gotten caught unawares in their civil war, and that he was basically there to rescue me. He assumed that I hated these people…whatever ethnic religious minority I was with in the compound.
I realized that I could possibly protect my friends if I played along with him. So when he offered to get me out of there, to go to the main city, I agreed.
He led me to an office building where apparently many Americans worked. It was a known company, like Amazon, or perhaps a well-known American firm that used Amazon to sell its products.
Inside the dreary office building, I saw Ted Johnson! I couldn’t believe it, a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen in decades. I greeted him. At first he didn’t recognize me, but when he did, he came to give me a big hug.
“While the war was going on, I stayed here to write a (book) review,” he told me, shamefully. He hadn’t the courage to go out into the field where there was bloodshed and horror. He stayed in the office where it was safe, where he could review others’ books, along with the 20-40 other Americans and expats, who were all there busily working away.
“I saw awful things Ted…things too terrible to speak of.”
I was overcome with emotion, tears welling up. He understood. Yet somehow, he envied me, as he had stayed safely holed away in his office, while I was out with the people, acting courageously.
I cautioned myself to not allow my experiences to overtake my ego; to gain personal significance out of horror. And yet there it was: ego and pride, in the midst of it all. I was human, too. And while I was justifiably proud of my good works, it wasn’t right to showcase those works to gain personal significance. Keep it in check.
Now my enemy escort was back. He said that we had someplace to go urgently. We ran down a steep set of stairs at the back of the building, with two other men. When we got to the bottom, a gun was pointed at my face. “You are a spy; part of American National Security, who have been renouncing what we’ve done here.”
“No,” I honestly answered. “I know nothing about American National Security. I don’t even know where their offices are.” They kept pressing me, but I had nothing to tell them.
Another man opened my mouth, and inserted what appeared to be a thermometer. Why was he taking my body temperature? The thermometer had a bitter taste. I wondered if it might be poison, or some kind of serum that would attempt to force me into confessing. But I had nothing to say; the truth had already been spoken.
And yet I did want to protect my friends. I was not specifically who they thought I was…but I was definitely their enemy.
Any moment now, I expected the gun to go off in my face. But now things began looking blurry, perhaps from the poison. Was this the end?Dream, 4/27/2019