navigating a dream:

The guitar I found in the dream was as round as a jug, and wielding it for play was awkward, as tho you had an obese dwarf in you arms, but it was stringed, and fretted, and and ready to play. It wasn’t mine. I found it in a dorm room that had once been mine, but I’d been away for many years, and so had an improper sense of entitlement as to what I found there. I may have awoken there, or I may have made my way there, dreamily, on foot, ascending the sole escalator, which was set to go down. It wasn’t so fast as to make climbing impossible, but it was narrow enough to complicate traffic had I encountered anyone going down.

The rotund guitar was resting on an armchair in the corner of the room, and I picked it up intending to strum her, but thought better of it, as I suspected there were sleepers in other rooms nearby. I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, but was honestly concerned for the peace of the place. The bottom of the instrument was a deep, wooden green, and patterned like a melon. Her strings were gut. And I was very curious as to how she would sound when played, so I lifted her from the padding of the chair, and took her with me.

Indeed, as I made my way from the small cluster of sleeping alcoves, I did see at least two occupants stretched out on pallets, lost in dreams of their own. I balanced the guitar on my shoulder (or was it actually a mandolin?), and made for the narrow escalator. The descent was considerably more relaxing.

Ann stirred beside me, and I woke up. She said good morning, and gave me a kiss before arising and gathering herself for the day. “Sleep in.”, she told me, as she knew I’d been up for quite a while in the middle of the night, unable to sleep.

The art of finding your way back into good dreams is something I wonder about.

She closed the bedroom door, and I stretched across the now capacious mattress, and thought about my dream. Details came to me that I’d passed over: The guitar, as I considered forming a chord, proved unplayable for me, for while it seemed to have a fret board for fingering and chords, the strumming neck was missing. (There is, of course, no such thing, but that didn’t occur to me in the dream.) I looked for the strumming neck, and saw where it might have once been, jutting away from the fret board at about a 30 degree angle for just an inch or two, and beyond that nothing. Alas, I thought, this isn’t for human hands, or, at least not for mine.

(By the time my head was getting into sorting these details out, I was back in the dream itself, deep asleep again, the whole bed to myself.)

The dormitory, I was now realizing, was part and parcel of my working life, which included two actual things I’ve done; two big things: I was in the military long, long ago, and much later, as a civilian, I practiced eye doctoring on an army post. This dreamscape was a military dormitory. As I reached the lobby, there were residents in uniform, lounging here and there. I seemed to belong in the place, but knew that even if I had , it was in another time, and my presence, although in rhythm, was a trespass.

The weight of the guitar on my shoulder made me feel conspicuous. It was wrong that I had taken it. My curiosity as to how sweet it might sound with a B7 chord was misplaced. I couldn’t even find it’s strumming board! It was time to return it.

So, I made my way back to the escalator, and trod against the downward flow of the steps with enough effort to climb back to the suite of rooms where the dream began. Again, it was lucky no one was descending, as it could only have made for slapstick in trying to get ’round one another.

In the common room of the suite, two of my neighbors were now awake, and one guy was fixed upon the guitar across my shoulder, so I asked the other one, “Whose is this? I need to return it.” His eyes crinkled, as tho’ to say, “Oh, this will be fun.”, and he pointed at my staring neighbor. So, I turned back to him. His face relaxed a bit, and he raised his eyebrows, which asked, “So?”.

I coughed.

“Yes. Well. I don’t seem to belong here. When I woke up, I saw this in the armchair, over there, and the beauty of the thing seized me, and I just had to hear how she sounded, so I picked her up.  But it seemed too early to play her, and I really didn’t want to disturb anyone, so I headed downstairs with your guitar, just to hear how she plays.  But, it seems that I can’t do any more than form chords with my left hand, and I’m unable to actually play, or even hear her if I hold her…”

“So, I owe you an apology. I hope you understand, and accept my words as sincere…  Here…” , and I returned his guitar.

“Thank you,” he said, “It’s not a problem.” I chose to believe him, but his expression was unreadable.

So, who was he? And who was the fellow watching us. Or is all that unimportant? Are the themes of being displaced, or the importance of courtesy and forgiveness the point here? Is the guitar a symbol, or just some weird failed mandolin design? In Hitchcock films, sometimes the hat is a clue, and sometimes it’s only there to drive the action: It’s a MacGuffin, they say.

And as to the matter of navigating the dreamscape: I know a fellow: He’s a psychologist and a sailor, and he has created a teaching project concerned with just that; navigating dreams. I’ve not taken his courses, nor talked with him much about his work with dreams. We live on opposite sides of this small planet. I do think I might send him this essay, as he’d find it interesting.

However, I’ve not had much luck before last night in completing a meaningful cycle in a dream.  I well know how, as you are waking from a powerful dream, your mind is rich with ideas attached to the action you’ve just experienced: Such a story! It needs to be retold! This place was full of other stories, with lessons to be learned, an entire cycle of stories: An anthology of stories! But the longer you lie there, waking up, the substance of the place, and all that meaning boils away. It’s evanescent.

This is one time I can at least recall having closed a story, despite that damned escalator, and found a lesson or two to ruminate on with my coffee in the light of the day after.

Good dreams to you.