Last night before going to sleep I flipped through a booklet of results from my days of running cross country at Luther College. I’d stored those books in the bedroom desk and was looking for something else when I opened the drawer and pulled them out.
That must have set my mind thinking about that period of life. During the night I dreamt that I was walking down the long road from the Luther College campus entrance to the field house as if I was going to cross country or track practice.
Right before entering the field house, a young man appeared at my side and immediately engaged in conversation. He seemed friendly enough, almost like someone I already knew.
We were so absorbed in conversation that we walked right past the field house. Heading up to the union, I was sharing some quick recollections of my time at college when he invited me up to the cafeteria to meet with some of his friends.
When we sat down he pulled out a pamphlet and smiled. At that moment two other people sat down with us. One was a young man and the other an athletic-looking, attractive young woman.
As we talked it became clear that they needed someone to buy them alcohol for a party they were having at a place outside of town. They were offering incentives for the rate of alcohol I was willing to buy them, or a block of tickets they wanted to hand out to people attending the party. There were prices listed in the pamphlet and everything. All they needed were patrons to buy the supplies or admissions to the party.
They were particularly interested in getting whisky. Or else that was an interest of mine that just inserted itself into the dream. I don’t control these things. They just happen in dreams.
Sex for sale
It also became clear that one of the ultimate incentives for investing in the program was the opportunity have sex with the young woman sitting across the table from me. She also explained, while opening the pamphlet, that I could have the pick of any of four girls involved in the program. She showed me their pictures.
At that point I looked up and said, “But that would be cheating on my wife.”
I got up to leave the table and they walked along with me, whereupon several of the other girls involved in the program showed up. The two guys and the gals were not exactly pressuring me, but they were trying to make sure the temptations were known.
In my dream state my mind ran through what it would mean to take advantage of that situation.
Instead I considered exposing the whole ruse. I even mentioned an aspect of it to a professor or administrator that I knew on campus. Certainly the girls seemed willing participants in the scheme. And yet…
Next thing I knew I was in my car driving out of town. I had indeed promised to buy them booze but was looking for an excuse to escape the situation. So I simply drove away and seemed to have spaced out on the whole deal, because during the dream I came back to awareness and pulled over in Fennimore, Wisconsin with a sense of guilt at having lied to them. I pulled over with the sudden thought that I’d deceived someone. But then I realized that perceived deceit, quite ironically, was actually the right thing to do.
I believe I had that dream because these are trying times in this world. We’re faced with all sorts of compromising decisions during this pandemic and strain on the economy. Our minds are being asked to make unconscious choices all the time. Are we wearing masks properly? Are we wearing them at all? Who can we trust for news? What’s the right thing to do? Should we feel guilty if we’re working and others aren’t? And at what point should people press their employers for honesty if even they can’t get straight answers or honest information from our government?
And all that uncertainty got expressed in my dream in a simple more question: Is it okay to screw somebody to get what we want?
Sacrifice and selfishness
While there is a ton of sacrifice being made in this world, we’re also witnessing a brand of selfishness that seems unquenchable. People are willingly defying common sense, manipulating the truth to their own selfish reality and/or scamming the system however they can. Even people at the top of all this economic turmoil, the people in charge of the lives and destinies of millions, are playing games with who gets money and who gets left out.
It’s a transactional nightmare if you study it closely. Telling Americans that a one-time payment of $1200 is a “big, fat check” and that it should last ten weeks is one of the most cynical things a President of the United States and his henchmen have ever said to the public.
I believe that this era is a study in sacrifice and selfishness. That is what my dream was all about, a consideration of the seductiveness of wealth and power and the advantages it seems to promise, but only to those willing to sacrifice principle for approval by power.
In other words, are we willing to whore ourselves out to gain or take advantage of others in society.
Familiar and strange
It’s interesting to have a dream in which the circumstances are both familiar (my college town) and yet there’s an entirely different reality going on (the enterprising yet manipulative college kids) in which everyone is trying to get what they want rather than what they really need. These are the tarsnakes of life.
As for the moral dimension of that dream, I’m proud that even in dreamworld I made the right choice. There are plenty of powerful people in the world who would buy that liquor and have sex with that girl. We read about it all the time. And when those people gain enough power, they either manipulate or force others into their reality. And that’s what’s going on in this world as well.
Call me a liberal or a bleeding heart if you like. Call me a hypocrite for dreaming about potential sex and then denying it. Call me a naive fool for believing that moral choices really matter in this world. Asleep or awake, that’s how I’ll always choose to live. Trying to make the right and honest choices, at any cost.