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The Cloths of Heaven are Old Shirts and Dark Slacks

Often in novels the dreams of characters relate to the action of the main narrative. A man fights with his wife, goes to bed, and dreams his house burned down. A woman dreams of a tree growing out of burned earth after finding out that she is not an orphan. This is horseshit. Last night I talked to Mo about shoes then dreamed that I entered a portal in my kitchen. In the universe that I found on the other side the Beatles never existed, and Prince was a Johnny-Mathis-style crooner, so “Purple Rain” sounded like “Moon River.” Another dream I frequently have: I am at work. The phone rings. I wake from the dream and go to work.

When I was in college I knew an old lady who would curse at me through my fog of oversensitive biases.

“I don't take aspirin,” I said. “I don't believe in it.”

“Pills are fantastic!” she yelled. “I was on pills and wrote a novel and had a love affair.”

I once told her that I was dreaming almost every night of sitting in classrooms. She thought for a moment—she was driving—and said: “Carl Jung says that boring dreams indicate a boring person.”

This burned its way into my brain like a curse and stayed with me for years. It was as if a wizard had cast a spell: remain forever soft and dull, in black shirts and black shoes with short hair. Other people went rafting down the Ganges but I was here in Brooklyn reading about Unicode.

Thus I used to feel ashamed and useless when everyone told me to go everywhere and do everything. But you dig a ditch, and then another ditch, and then sit and look at the ditch for a while, figuring out how you could be a better digger, ignoring people who love the ditch too much and shrugging off people who wish the ditch was a hill, and then you start up the digging again. No airplanes or Bodhi trees; just me and a machine and the occasional cat. It may be boring, but I am living my dreams.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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