Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Reminder from Jake

The car in which you were a passenger pulls to a halt.  You open the door, prepare to leave.  The driver turns to watch you.  "This,"  he says, "is not a good place to get out."

But the needs of the dream are persistent.  You leave the car, immediately stepping into mud that covers your shoes.  The driver was right.

"Wise guy,"  the driver says in a way that reminds you of your father.

Another look at the driver, then at your feet, covered in mud.  The driver shrugs.  "What can you do?"  he says.  The car leaves.  Now you are certain the driver was your father, even as the arc of the dream fades.  You awaken into the darkness, once more aware he has been your companion in these nocturnal narratives that seem so immediate and filled with sense even at the times you are openly skeptical of the events.

You have no memory of him being a part of your dream patterns while he was alive, but within months of his death, he appeared, sometimes in mere walk-ons, nodding in recognition, a quiet observer of the more significant aspect of the dream in which he was cast.

Your father was more than a bit player in your life, so much so that you began to rejoice at the visions of him you saw in your own gestures and behavior.  About a year ago, on the occasion of a publication party for your collection of short stories, someone took a snapshot of you, reading to the audience from a copy of the book in your hand.

For the past two years, you have not so much needed reading glasses, thanks to the results of cataract surgery done on both eyes.  That you carry glasses at all is from a lifetime habit.  Thus you withdrew a pair of ten-dollar drugstore readers, plunked them on, then began to read.  By the time you'd recognized you did;t need the glasses, then removed them, someone had done the deed, taken the snapshot.  May have even been your publisher.

The photo could well have been your father, in fact reminds you of one or two photos of him you have strewn about the studio here at 409 E. Sola Street amid all your other household gods.  Today, as you worked on what has become the front-rank project, you were discussing the affinity you've had for a particular novel since a boy of ten, and the definite possibility that the narrative voice reminded you of your father.

The "wise guy" observation of the driver of the car in your recent dream is straight out of your father.  Others may well have called you smart ass, but only he said wise guy, not so much to bring you down as to remind you how you might be flying ego wise at a level where the oxygen and other support systems are thinning out.  See yourself.  Watch yourself.

The passions and interests we pursue often take on such intensity of focus that we lose sight of our self in their chase.  The wise guy or self-anointed expert often flaps his tongue, his wings, or his ego with too great a show of being a proper fit for the job, perhaps advertising the self-anointment of entitlement to the outcome.  In which case, ha, ha, ha.

Your late father had no such tendencies.  You do, and although you believe you understand now how you came to acquire them, you must be on guard to remind yourself of their presence.  In a similar lifetime habit of carrying and using reading glasses, you may find yourself from time to time, as you assemble your accouterments, bringing along to a venture the flying ego, the self-conferred expertise, and the overdone bravado of the wise guy.

At which point, a terse reminder from Jake goes a long way toward setting you straight.

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