A Momentary Disturbance

Have you ever had a dream you simply had to describe to someone? One you had to talk about to get it straight in your own mind? I had such a dream last night.

In the earliest part of the dream I can recall, I am standing in a forest, vaguely reminiscent of the woods near my parents’ house, and the whole thing is underwater. I and my one companion are clad in diving equipment and have gone in search of two missing divers who I feel like I should know. After a brief montage, we find their diving suits prone on the forest floor. The figures are crumpled and misshapen; not entirely human. In the midst of a pervasive aura of dread, two figures appear too suddenly. They claim to be our missing friends, but are wearing suits that seem more appropriate for working inside a nuclear reactor than strolling through an underwater forest. The dread has become almost tangible.

–Cut scene.–

I am now standing in the parking area behind a white-washed cinder block building on the edge of a small stand of trees. Myself and an unknown number, (perhaps three or four), of my friends are cavorting about in good-natured frivolity, trying to cast interesting silhouettes on the wall of said building using the headlights from our vehicles. During this time, a lone van begins doing circuits around the parking lot. On the one of those rounds, the side of the van appears to glow. It is lit neither from within nor without, but glows of its own accord and two figures appear to be facing us out of the side of the van, though it possesses no side windows. The same feeling of ominous expectancy as before settles rapidly as the trees around the parking lot and all of the vehicles vanish from view and all that remains is the eerily still lit white wall of the building. The joints between the cinder blocks begin almost immediately to ooze and seep blood. The blood runs down the wall and I am certain that someone is screaming, though I can hear no sounds.

It was then that I awoke. 

I have had little time to ponder these images today, and I wishes to write them down before I forgot some detail or another. Perhaps I shall return to this matter for contemplation on another day.

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To The NSA Agents…

… who are no doubt aware that I just watched John Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden: I don’t doubt I’ve just been put on a watch list for something, so here goes nothing. 

I am a single guy in my mid-twenties living in a small college town on the east coast, but you already know that because you’ve pulled my records and triangulated my Wifi signal. You probably also know that I spend most of my internet time poking people on Facebook, watching old tv shows, and pouring through gratuitous amounts of porn.

That being said: Happy spying! And if there’s any adult film content you’re really itching to see, just send me an email and I’ll be sure to stream something you and your office buddies can fap to; I don’t mind sharing.

Snowflakes

I was struck by a thought today: a thought about similarity and difference. I have come to the conclusion that no two humans are or will ever be exactly alike, but also that no single human will ever be entirely unique. Just as we all have differences that set us apart from each other, there is not, has never been, and shall almost certainly never be someone who cannot connect to anyone on common ground.
Now, I know that the four-hundred or so humans I have met in the provincial, pastoral little speck of nowhere I call home can hardly be considered an accurate sampling of the seven-billion or more humans inhabiting this delightful little mud ball of a planet, but I like to think the specific events of my life have introduced me to a somewhat broader range of folk than the average museum janitor.
Aware as I am of different walks in life and of the walkers who stride upon them, and content as I can be in the company of a range of social and economic classes, I wonder how it is that so many of us get hung up on truly useless similarities or differences? Why does anyone really care what color I am or what language I speak? Why should they care who I sleep with or which name of God I pray to? How can these things possibly really matter? Why can’t we focus on the important things? Different bodies on the same planet… Different members of the same species… Different souls alive at the same time… Different minds seeking the same Truth?
I have often heard it said that no two snowflakes are ever exactly alike, but, in a way, there is never one that is entirely unique. After all, before, above, and in spite of everything else: they are all snowflakes. How magnanimous of the powers that be to have put such a splendid and simple metaphor right in front of us. Never appearing the same, but always intrinsically similar; settling down by different paths in different places on the same Earth; and, unquestionably, only here for short while and then gone, do I speak of snowflakes, or of us?

Elementary My Dear

Those of us who attended traditional schools that actually taught basic math may recall that old and notorious nemesis; the “word problem.” In fact, almost no one who has been in a formal school in the last fifty to sixty years ever got by without coming across something similar to:

“If Sally has two apples and Tommy has four, how many apples do they have?”

Most of you, having long since passed basic math, know without thinking that the answer to this question is six. The question to that answer, however, is ‘why?’ Why do we assume without being told that Sally and Tommy are operating collectively and will pool their apples to achieve a greater total harvest? Let us suppose that Tommy and Sally are operating competitively, or even in isolation from one another, and therefore they each have what was stated in the preamble and no further calculation or speculation is required.

Let us change the question, superficially. If I were to ask you; “If Israel has 1000 rockets and Gaza has 900, how many do they have?” the more cynical among you would probably reply; “None, because they launched them all at each other.” Setting politics aside, that remark has important implications.

In situations we know are not real, our immediate impulse is to assume that two people with means will cooperate to achiever greater means than either has alone. However, in realistic or real-world situations, we assume, somewhat but not overly pessimistically, that the two people or groups will oppose one another in an attempt to control all the “apples.”

When and how do so many of us go from the bright-eyed first grader combining Sally and Tommy’s apples as though that were the natural order of things to the stoop-shouldered barfly shaking our heads morosely as the grim and grisly results of our unspoken lowest expectations play out before our very eyes on the TV in the back corner?

Ponder these things for a time, I bid you.

You Can’t Go Home Again

I elected not to change the title of this piece even though I just deleted all the text that had been here.
Recently I returned to my old college town to see old friends and try to reconnect with someone special to me. It didn’t go as I has hoped. Almost nothing about the people or the place remained as it was when I was a student there previously, and it wasn’t that long ago.
I left feeling a mixture of things. I was sad that so many things had changed, but I enjoyed seeing old friends again. I found there were more people there that I remembered than I would have expected. And at the end of it all, I left with hope for a future with meaningful connections. My friendships had changed because I have changed, and the people with whom I interact that have not changed with me are slowly being phased out of my life.
I always heard “home is where your heart is” as a child. My heart was with my closest friends. And if the friends are no longer there, than neither is home. Home is elsewhere, in new hearts among new people.

Resistance

Part I: A Possible Prologue

Not all dream stories come in complete “episodes.” While thinking of a dream that has revisited me recently, I recall now a fragment of a dream from years previous that may be in some way related.

It is hot outside and the sun is blazing brightly overhead. There is an unnatural quality to both the light and the air, as though some calamitous event has damaged the fabric of the world. I am standing in a grassy field slowly being trampled by the number of people being assembled; assembled to fight for our freedom. A powerful faction, bent on domination over us, is coming our way and we are preparing for war. The future looks grim. The likelihood of victory is scant. We are given orders by our commanders and we march off toward the confrontation. The fragment ends.

Such a dream could have been the beginning to any number of stories, but I think it may have something to do with a multi-night dream story that returned to me only last night.

Part II: The Story So Far

The war fought after the conclusion of the fragment above has long ago ended. A superficially benign, all-powerful government now controls the state in which I live. Officially, I am merely an ordinary citizen going about a productive but ordinary existence. I cause no trouble, and no trouble comes to me. Unofficially, I am a member of a resistance seeking to overturn the ruling regime.

To that end, I and others, including my wife, lead forays into government-controlled buildings and secret bases to gather intelligence to use against our supreme leader; a mysterious woman who leads the cult of Oneness. The details of the dreams thus far and the missions we have gone on are not all clear. I even wonder if some of the missions were never actually in their own dreams, but were memories of previous events in the life of my dream avatar.

Above all other things, when we go on our missions the greatest imperative is secrecy. We go to painstaking effort to make no lingering alterations to the spaces we reconnoiter. Any documents searched are re-filed, any object moved is replaced exactly as it had been and we can never be seen by government operatives.

There have been close encounters, but we have thus far avoided detection and gathered information on operations and procedures we hope to use against “One” and her minions.

Part III: The Most Recent Installment

The very night before I wrote this piece, I again dreamt of my efforts with the resistance. We were hitting a big target this time: the personal abode of “One.” We bypassed security and gained entrance to the house. It was disheveled, as though those that dwelt there were in the process of relocating.

As we were searching the house for information we could use against the regime, taking, as always, great care not to leave any trace of our presence there, we received word that “One’s” advance guard were approaching and that She would soon be there. Knowing we could neither sneak our way past such a force nor risk a direct confrontation without further preparations, we began pulling out. It took time. We had to be absolutely certain every item, regardless of seeming insignificance, was replaced exactly and every trace of our intrusion, down to tracks in the dust, was swept away.

We had finally made it out of the building and were heading for the woods, as we had done in previous raids on bases in similar settings. While crossing the back yard, my wife called from behind me and said she had to go back in. She had left some object that she had brought behind, and it would be a dead giveaway that we had been there. The advance guard was nearly on the property and we had no time to spare as she went back into the house. I stood there torn between the imperative of secrecy and the desire to go back and help my beloved. The dream ended in that moment of indecision.

Afterword

I firmly believe that this dream-story is not yet concluded. The trouble with dreams is that it could be days, months or even years before the rest of the story comes to me, and there is no way of knowing what parts may be left out. I could try to speculate as to how the events will progress, though in my experience there is no better way to shut oneself off from a dream-story than to imagine the next chapter while awake.

A Journey Seeking Evil

Foreword: A Bit of Context

It has been nearly six years since I had this dream, but I can still recall the general storyline and some of the events in detail. I am not the man I was when I had this dream. For starters, I have stopped considering myself a Christian.

I have heard it said that dreams are sometimes a subconscious reflection of events in our real lives, and this dream would seem to corroborate that theory. I had it shortly after finishing reading The Inferno by Dante for a school paper. The correlation between the book and the dream are unmistakable.

Every man is said to have his own personal Hell, and I am no exception. Though what I consider ‘evil’ has changed over the years, and since I have taken to praying to God in different forms, perhaps a glimpse at where I’ve been can help me to determine where to go from here.

Part I: Sent

Having been raised a Christian, I believed in my youth in the inherent sinfulness of humans and in the need for redemption. This dream came to me at a time when my perception was starting to change from believing that I needed to be saved by another into thinking that it was possible to earn forgiveness from wrong by one’s own power. In this dream, I was sent on such a journey of redemption.

In a wooded place of no great significance, I was walking down a gravel road with a woman clad in military camouflage. I did not ever see her face, but I believe I knew her. She spoke not in words that I can recall, but with impressions and she imparted to me the need to go on a journey into the depths of Hell for the redemption of my soul. She would not be with me, she was needed elsewhere, and I would have no guide with me. I could not stray from my purpose, or I would become forever lost in damnation. She left me to my journey.

Part II: An Eventful Journey

I never saw exactly how I came to be in Hell, but perhaps it is better that way. The first place in which I found myself greatly resembled a contemporary dance club. Uncountable numbers of people were loosely gathered or tightly packed around the inside of a massive building, barely lit, and filled with loud music. A huge television screen filled the only interior wall distinguishable in the darkness. I recalled that I had been instructed not to look at the screen or I would become hypnotized by it. I could still hear it, though. A male figure was giving orders to the multitudes in a loud voice. I do not recall his words, but the masses seemed entranced by what he was saying to them. I threaded my way through the crowd and eventually left the massive chamber.

The next incident I recall with clarity was brief, but no less poignant. I had passed out of the massive dark room and found myself in a wasteland walking along the edge of a cliff. There I encountered the likeness of a young man I went to school with tempting me into acts of depravity. The conversation was brief. He eventually set himself on a rock at the top of a chute carved into the cliff face and slid down to the base, calling all the while for me to join him. I turned away and resumed my journey down.

There may have been other trials that I faced, but time has buried my memories of them. The final stage of the journey took me to a place which, strangely enough, resembled my neighbor’s basement, except that it was larger and more sinister-looking. Within this place were the likenesses of people that I knew, possibly even some of my relations, engaged in acts of torture and other evils. I slunk from room to room avoiding direct contact with them before coming to what I somehow knew was the reason I had been sent here.

Part III: A Confrontation

In my neighbor’s basement, standing in for the depths of Hell, I entered a small, dark room which contained only a table holding a smallish wooden crate. I approached the crate, somehow knowing instinctively that what it contained was pure evil. Inside, set on a bed of straw, was a small wooden figurine of roughly human likeness. The figure spoke to me in words I could not understand, and as it spoke our location changed to that of a grassy meadow under bright sunshine. I believe, in retrospect, that it may have been meant to be the Devil tempting me with a vision of tranquility and beauty.

Unfortunately, before this encounter could progress any further, my alarm clock rang and I was awakened to go to class. This dream has not returned to me in part or in whole at any time since. At times when I recall this dream, I will sometimes wonder how I would have fared in my confrontation with this manifestation of evil.