Sweet Dreams

I recently connected to an old friend who I haven’t seen or talked to in at least 30 years. He spent his entire life, outside of vacation travel, in Nebraska and most of that in small town Nebraska. I could have easily led that life at one time, but economics, chance, opportunity, and restlessness ended up sending me to a lot of places I would have never expected to see and experience. In one of many conversations with my friend and his wife, we touched on the dreams we’ve had that carried emotion, meaning, and resonance to our lives. My friend and his wife are religious and the dreams they described had to do with that subject. My dream was very different and their perspective and ideals reminded me of that near-spiritual dream that I still occasionally have.

After my decade in medical devices, I was a mental train wreck. Being asked to help the richest people I’ve ever known cover-up device failures that had killed patients, tortured even more patients, and bankrupted many others caused me to lose the ability to read for almost half of a year. In retrospect, I realize that some part of my brain decided that if my consciousness wasn’t going to do the right thing the next best thing was to incapacitate my ability to do the wrong thing. Many people imagine that becoming a whistle-blower is either some form of treason or is as easy as going with the flow and doing what the higher-ups demand. It isn’t and if you have never had the skills or talent to be in a position to be pressed to consider having moral backbone to blow the whistle on corruption and evil in high places you have no basis with which to compare your situation to that miserable place. This essay isn’t about that dilemma, but if it were it would be longer, sadder, and more revealing that I am likely to ever be in this blog. This essay is about the dream that signaled my release from that situation.

About three months after I quit Guidant, a St. Paul medical devices company and my last corporate employer, I had the dream that turned out to be an important part of my release from the hell that had become my employment “contract.” I was mostly unemployed, living on savings and some meager self-employment and contract tech work, the economy was in free fall because of the 9/11 attacks, and my future as a 52-year-old mid-tech technical writer and engineer was totally in doubt. I still could not, yet, read and comprehend the captions below pictures in newspapers. My sole dependable income was teaching motorcycle safety classes on weekends and, occasionally, weekdays. That particular early morning, I would be teaching my first classroom in this new career. To that day, studying the materials I had to absorb to become an MSF instructor had required that I read a list of 132 questions and memorize the course-accepted answers. Because of my reading disability I had spent hundreds of hours staring at the study guides and instructors’ manuals to get to the point that I had the gist of those documents memorized. The chance that I might have a clear moment and would be able to read the test questions to my students was too much to risk, so I memorized the test. That evening I had spent six hours just going over the test questions and I could spout “What is important to know about a convex mirror?” and when #19’s time came or when I heard “#39” my kneejerk response was “List the three-step process to shift to a higher gear.”

The last thing that I remember from the fleeting moments of sleep the morning of the day I regained my ability to read again was an incredible feeling of well-being as I rode my motorcycle from my garage into the street and in every direction I saw “suits” hanging from every telephone pole down my Little Canada street, along Little Canada Road to the I35E freeway entrance and all along the freeway to the Century Avenue exit on I694. Then I woke up. I don’t remember what led to that image, if there was a story that precluded the sight of so many corporate executives getting their just deserts. The dream was more a release from the self-torture I’d subjected myself to as a consequence of working for one of the many entirely self-serving, psychopathic, and outright evil corporations this greed-loving country has spawned. There wasn’t much of a story behind that grand sight, as I remember it. It was just a beatific scene from a world gone wrong that had self-corrected.

I had that wonderful dream repeatedly for about a month and intermittently for the next year or so. Then it stopped. The part of the dream I remember always woke me up about the time I needed to be getting out of bed. The feeling it left me with was always a great sense of peace because “truth, justice, and the American way” had been restored in my world. Sometimes, I suspect that there is a lot of French in my English and German heritage because the revolution I most empathize with is the French Revolution. Being a savage US citizen, I see the 1% being hanged from telephone poles rather than guillotined, but the end result is the same.

Of course, none of that will ever happen here. We’re a nation of serfs who love to serve and obey our masters while they misdirect our anger and violence toward other members of the 99%. The chances that Americans will rise up and throw off the shackles of failed and corrupt capitalism and its bedfellow, fascism, are about as good as are the odds that we’ll figure out space travel before the next ecological catastrophe wipes us from the earth: zero-to-none. But . . . damn! That was one sweet dream and I go to bed every night hoping I’ll get to experience it again.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8/11/2018

    I love that dream. Pass it on.