A Dream of a Shadow


For the past year, since those several weeks during which I slept hardly at all, I have been dreaming. Dreams so vivid and elaborate that I wake from them wondering whether it is the dream or the waking that is real. Feeling that I have been granted a wish made for me by someone else, to visit all the lives that I might have lived. Or to travel freely into stories that are not mine.


I live with my wife in an immense palazzo, mosaics on its floors and frescoes on its walls. The ceilings are barely visible. All the rooms are empty.


I travel with friends along a narrow road. We arrive at a settlement that is not on our map. We enter a building and then cannot find the exit. Every doorway leads into another room. Stairs go nowhere. Suddenly I find myself outside. I realize that I was able to leave the building only because I stopped wanting to leave. I wait for my friends. I know that each of us has to realize this for himself.


I wait outside a room in which my future in-laws are entertaining a dignitary of some sort. An immaculately dressed, impossibly handsome man is advising me on the protocol for greeting this important visitor. I am weary of my fiancée’s family. They speak a language that I do not understand and can never learn. After entering the room, I greet the honored guest and then turn to acknowledge his family. His son, I realize, is my best friend.


There is that Clifford Geertz quote, the one that goes, “One of the most significant facts about humanity may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to a live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one.” I wonder.



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