Burying the Past:
A Dark/Bright Story and a Saving Dream
The darkened gray street lined by dirty concrete curbs and sidewalks
fixed itself into my internal being, like a young man communing with
some form of nature’s beauty, except this was urban ugliness, lacking
any positive vibe, consisting only of more forthcoming mediocrity — a
future devoid of substance.
My identity was framed by this neighborhood, this tribe with numerous
sub-tribes, within the larger Northeast, Rust-Belt city tribe that I began
to loathe more deeply than ever before. This was not my vision for the
I was in my early twenties. I had a dream that shook me out of a
dangerous misery. It was not a very creative dream — but, like most
dreams, it felt very real — real enough to make me re-think everything.
The dream had me standing in a long line of very dejected-looking
people moving slowly and mindlessly toward a big muscular man with a
black hood covering his entire head, except for his foreboding eyes
peering out. He’s wielding a giant ax, chopping one head after the other
on a square concrete block in front of him. I’m moving unthinkingly with
the line. It comes my turn. I wake out of my stupor and start furiously
running away, the ax man cometh after me. I’m literally running for my
life, and I’m using every fiber of energy I have to escape. It all ends
abruptly with me waking up, bursting out with huge breath of
thankfulness as I realize it was only a dream. Of course, I wanted to live.
What was I thinking?
How could I have even entertained that thought?
Life Worth Living
I think it was Hegel who said something to the effect that you had to go
deep into your dark side before seeing the more optimistic bright light
of life. I won’t go into the details that could explain why I was having
such dark thoughts. It’s embarrassingly depressing to this day some 40
years later in my early old age remembrance thinking mindset. To
describe it succinctly, I’d call it a turn of events between my 24-year-old
self and a physically attractive and sexual woman who was about 10
years my senior. This relationship influenced me so negatively — in
hindsight — that I feel I’m better off just burying it — but burying things
often resurfaces in our memory banks. So it’s there.
My Dad always used to ask “Is Everything under control?” I thought
about this while entering the street from the driveway of my apartment
on this beautifully sunny and warm June morning when I felt saved from
my self-created misery by a dream. How great is life?
It finally dawned on me how Dad’s pat icebreaker worked. Once you got
it out of the way, with a matter of fact “Yes,” the conversation moved to
entertainment and conviviality more than anything else. Took me
decades to figure that out about him. He did not want any drama. He
had experienced more than enough drama in WWII as a 19-year-old
marine who had been wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima.
I have the helmet that saved his life from the blast of shrapnel that hit
his upper back and parts of his head, causing lifelong soreness and
headaches that he treated daily with Anacin. Fortunately, he did not
drink and was stoic when it came to his pain or any life challenge for
that matter. The helmet has a torn up covering with visible blood stains
still intact 73 years later. Every once and a great while I take a look at it.
Amazing how a physical item can bring intense emotion just by holding
it in your hands.
Yes, life can be good even when things look so bad. About a month had
passed since that unhealthy relationship ended and I had that literal
wake-up call. It turned into a pretty nasty month, and then the dream
In the grand scheme of life, these sorts of experiences have a pathetic
quality. Yet, I do believe I was giving suicide some serious contemplation.
I was indeed very stupidly depressed though the loss of a fake love. It
happens to desperate men and women all the time.
Waking up from that dream was not your ordinary rising. It taught me
how to live.
“Every moment of
light and dark is a
- Walt Whitman