Early this morning I had to make a presentation, one that potentially could have great bearing on the lives of those who live in our neighborhood. It was a presentation that I had spent the last week working on, sometimes in the evenings, sometimes throughout the day. It was a topic that had captured my imagination and burned like fire in my mind. Computer files were involved; translating .csv files into a workable format for MS Word Tables. When I finished all of my preparations, burning CDs and printing hardcopies of the resultant tables and the instructions as to how to use them, I was exhausted. I then spent a great deal of time trying to figure out the best way to present an hour's worth of material in less than 15 minutes. I fussed and agonized about it.
This morning I woke up at 2:30 and really could not get back to sleep. When the alarm went off at 5:30 I was certainly ready to get out of bed. In between, during those three hours, I had a series of dreams which seemed to represent a degree of chaos and frustration in my life. In one scene, my office at the Institute had been boxed up in a haphazard way and everything that I had a place for, was out of place. My office has always been a place of order and peace, a haven for me and my mind, and to have it in disarray was disturbing. In addition, I apparently was expected to prepare a lesson in the midst of all that clutter and deliver it in short order. Needless to say, when I finally realized it was all a dream, I was relieved.... sort of. I think perhaps the thought of having to make the presentation at 6:30 on a Sunday morning in a venue that I had not experienced before, was a little too unnerving. Needless to say when the time for the presentation came, it went off without a hitch and several of those in attendance commented on how effectively the material had been presented in such a short period of time.
Was there a message in my dream? No more than what is self-evident. Much of my office from the Institute is still in boxes in the garage, five years after I brought them home. I guess I really don't have a good place to put the little decorations that made my office my own. At some point I am going to have to dispose of the stuff that I treasured because my students had given them to me. Maybe I can no longer afford to have the clutter in the garage. My den is cluttered enough. I think that I have too many outward reminders of my life and not enough changes in my heart and mind because of the people who gave those things to me. I am going to do better. If the whole house were to burn down and every memento lost in the flames, how could I remember what those people meant to me, or even that I knew them at all? I have to be a different sort of man,one worthy of the friendships those trinkets represent. Perhaps I have to be a better man because of the presentation I made this morning, that I, most of all, should be motivated to be what the presentation addressed.
The other scene in my dream this morning had to do with my glasses. I was ready to make my presentation, everything perfectly in order, when my glasses broke; the ear pieces fell off so that I had to resort to holding them up to my eyes by sticking my index finger on the bridge of my nose. Inconvenient and unnerving. In order to give you a sense for what I felt I will review a Twilight Zone episode that I first saw many years ago. It was called "Time Enough at Last".
A fellow named Henry Bemis, an inveterate reader, is mocked by his family and associates for the types of things that he regularly reads, and even for the fact that he reads at all. Without going into the rest of Rod Serling's agenda in this story, let me just say that in the end, the world is destroyed by atomic warfare, and he is the only person left alive. He had been eating lunch in the bank vault when World War III was fought and lost. He is initially distressed to find himself alone until he discovers that the city library has been spared, with all of the hundreds of thousands of books intact. He is overjoyed, finally having the opportunity to read anything and everything he desired without interruption and criticism. It was then (you guessed it) he inadvertently broke his glasses.
I rejoice in the power of literacy, the ability to hear the minds and hearts of people whom I could not know because of the distance of time and space. To lose that ability because of clumsiness or any other accident was and is horrifying to me. I suppose that is why of all of the Twilight Zone episodes I have seen, that is the one I remember the best.
I feel the same way about losing what little mental capacity that I have through stroke or any other brain damage. In some respects this capacity is like a pair of spiriutual glasses. I wouldn't want to break them. The world likes to mock the way right-minded people think and attributes their morally-based views to some sort of mental aberration. The world also has no hesitancy to explain away faith-oriented approaches to living one's life as the product of a frenzied mind. I would rather not give them any opportunity to explain away why I feel the way I do about serious and sacred things. Were I to have a physical aneurysm of some kind, and were able to maintain my conscious faith, I suspect there would be those cynics who would avow that the wrong part of my brain had been damaged, that had the part that supports my faith been destroyed, there would have been an immediate improvement in my overall performance as a human being.
I am glad that I have eyes to see spiritual things or that I have spiritual glasses, if you will. I can discern the minds and hearts of those around me by reading the things which they have chosen to record, weighing them against those things which I seem to know intuitively. I can watch the world as it interacts with itself, learning to distinguish those things which bring peace and harmony to the world and those things which do not. In simple terminology, I can learn for myself to distinguish between good and evil. I am glad that I am a man of faith, one who believes in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. I can look at my own existence, my place in the world, with depth perception, both sets of eyes functioning properly.
I have retired from the workplace. I have, indeed, "time enough at last" to do the things that I really want to do. I hope that I can always remember that those things that I want to do require me to have "glasses", by which I can see how to set my life's "office" in order, that I might be successful in achieving my heart's desire in peace.