MY RECURRING DREAMS
BY DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
Dreams often express anxieties, sometimes in the form of resolutions.
I used to have two really bad habits, driving and smoking, including smoking while driving, which I continued to do in a recurring dream although I had quit smoking and let my license expire.
I often dreamed that I was driving my beloved Mark IV Lincoln Continental down the mountain side to my stone castle beside the ocean in Kona. I am smoking a Russian cigarette and listening to a Moody Blues tape. The taste of the tobacco is repulsive, and it occurs to me with some dismay that I quit smoking. And then I notice in my rear view mirror that a police car is moving up behind me.
“Oh no! I don’t have a license! I will be arrested!”
I awake with a jolt. I remember that the stone castle is the Kona Inn Hotel, where I checked in after Rene told me I should go live in my car since it was costing more than the mortgage on the house. I wonder if she quit smoking too. We were eventually divorced, to my everlasting regret. If only I had persevered, there was enough love there to save the marriage.
I no longer have that dream, nor do I dream anymore that I am on the run down streets, through the woods, and crawling under houses and onto rooftops because I am wanted for some sort of felony and have escaped from jail. I wake up in a sweat with sheets wrapped around me, wrack my brains, and realize with some relief that I felt guilty for nothing, or, perhaps, for not being the good man I should be.
And then there is the descent into hell where, of course, there is big furnace guarded by an underworld creature, a dragon with red scales. The dragon seems wise, and would advise me how to avoid being incinerated. He says something profound, but I cannot remember what he said when I wake up—perhaps dragons do not speak English.
I woke up and abandoned my career the last time the hellish dream recurred. I was on the verge of success at the time. My withdrawal from the habitual pursuit of happiness in the form of property frightened me so badly that I am still in shock. I lead an impoverished author’s life, which is a cowardly life in comparison with that of a man of action. Ironically, active people sometimes retain me to discuss metaphysical subjects with them.
The underworld does have it attraction for dreamers. I often dreamed of grave digging after watching the war news. I called the grave digger “the Grim Reaper.” The cemetery was an abandoned battlefield strewn with corpses. All the trees and shrubs were also dead. I stopped having that dream after I realized that I was too was a Grim Reaper. I had balked at material success, forsaking it for art for its own sake, and almost jumped off my nineteenth floor terrace to perfect the war against myself.
And lately another earthmoving dream, something to do with landscape architecture. I am standing on a large earthen berm or maybe a natural bank by a stream. The architect is warning me that pipes must be installed under the bank. Otherwise, water running underneath it will wash it away and I shall have nothing to stand on. I interpreted that as a health warning, to take care of a plumbing issue.
Yes, I believe dreams may be prophetic, albeit rarely. For instance, I dreamed of a dancer I had not seen for twenty years. She lives in California. She took me by the hand in my dream, and led me back to the arts. She actually showed up in Florida, two blocks from my place the day after my dream, as evident from her Facebook posts. I contacted her on Facebook, and she promised to call me, but she never did.
I have been daydreaming of living in a penthouse for a few months instead of in my present squalor in a South Beach ghetto. We humans can get used to almost anything, and it no longer seems good or bad. I lived in luxury, in paradise, in a grand condo beside the Pacific with whales blowing by, and it eventually meant nothing to me. Now many people, especially a million Syrian immigrants, would love to live in my present hovel, which I forgot was a hovel until shortly before Christmas, when I perused a real estate vanity magazine, and then I penned ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Penthouse.’
Mind you that I am not a penthouse panhandler, as I have contributed much of my spirit if not cash to humankind, and I have more to give.
Indeed, I yearn so fervently for penthouse life that I have considered looking for a job although I’m afraid it is too late for that unless some publisher sees profit in giving me a desk, an editor, and a stipend. My time is short, but I already have a huge inventory.
Yet that is not the dream I had. I dreamed a very old dream. I am standing in warehouse. The sign on the back door said “Atlantic Metal.” Two muscular young men, partners, whom I am seeing about a job, are engaged in loading fabricated sheet metal on pallets. Their clothes are grimy with machine oil and dirt.
“I see this is real work, dirty work,” I say.
“As you can see, we need someone right away to load the trucks,” said one partner.
“Would I have to lift over forty pounds?”
“Yes, some of the steel extrusions weigh two hundred, so the men on each end must carry one hundred pounds.”
“Well, I have a hurt back. I am an office man although I operated a lathe when I was a kid. I do words and numbers now.”
“What kind of experience do you have?”
“I have a lot of experience. What I like to do is save up enough money to quit and do my art.”
“That won’t do at all.”
“This time I will die on the job given my age,” I offer.
They are not so sure, so we get in a truck and they show me around the industrial site, asking me for my opinions on things, and I wake up, realizing I had just had a variation on an old recurring dream. What it means I can divine. Whether it is prophetic I cannot say.
Miami Beach 2016