Took a short trip out to the Cape for an anniversary celebration. (A side note here; it has been our inside joke for years that I was married to my job longer than to her and that is still true, but with retirement that gap is closing – 44.5 years at work and 43 years married.) It was great to go back and really do little more than eat and drink and have fun – not that our daily life at home is all that much different now! But it is always good to get away.
We’ve been going to this place for over 20 years now; it’s right on the main street making its walking proximity to all the shops and restaurants extremely desirable. Of course back then when we first began going, I was working – working hard – and time off was both rare and precious. So getting this indulgent respite from work and stress was always so welcomed. Given the nature of my job, I was always connected to work anyway though with pagers, cell phones, laptops, etc. I can’t count the times we sat in a pub or tavern trying to have a meal and drinks and I would end up spending half that time on the phone. Just the nature of the business. And even if I was not awaken in the wee hours of the morning with a text or phone call from work, my first action upon waking was always to grab the phone and check up on what was going on back at work. Yes – it really did dominate my life that extensively.
And on this night, for the first time since I retired I think, I dreamt about work. Now please understand dear reader, that while I dream somewhat regularly, I am not a particularly vivid dreamer; my dreams are typically fairly mundane – about daily life – almost utilitarian in nature. And rarely does anyone speak in them. I will say that I have dreamt of places to which I have never been, that likely do not exist. But they are not magical or fantastic places – they are everyday places, just places I know I’ve never been to.
On this particular night, I had, apparently, been called into work for some reason. But as I found myself wandering through my old X-ray area, the place was all different (not a bug surprise as I had been fighting to get the whole area renovated and had succeeded in getting it approved just before I left), I didn’t recognize any of the employees, and couldn’t find anyone I knew. So as I tried to head upstairs to the QA offices, again everything in the shops was different, including the route to get up there. And then I wondered if I was OK in just roaming around alone: typically visitors require an escort. So I looked down and checked my badge and it was my old badge from when I still worked there, even though I knew I had turned it in upon my last walk out of the gate. I wondered if I had somehow kept it and had it at home; or if they had given it to me upon coming back – even though I had no recollection or memory of coming through the gate, any gate in fact.
As usual for me, I really don’t recall much else from it, how it ended up or anything. But the whole thing paints a magnificently detailed picture on how our subconscious minds work – to me anyway. I hadn’t dreamt about work at all since I retired over 5 months ago. I’ve certainly thought about – email and text some of my old friends regularly, check up on their cost performance, the backlog, latest news – that kind of thing. And I think of my old friends often. But I had not dreamt of work. Not until I went to a place where I had never been as a retired man; a place where I used to go to escape work, an oasis, a happy place. And a place where work always crept back into my life, often leapt back into my life in fact. Even though there no reason to think of work, my mind fell back to what it knew and remembered best from every visit there; work was going to call.
But this time, for the first time in over 20 years, I was there as a retiree. We arrived, we went to have lunch and drinks before checking in and had a great lunch. We checked into the hotel and later that night had a great dinner. And my phone stayed silent the entire time. I didn’t really think about it or notice it; but my mind apparently did.
Oddly enough, without having said a word about the dream to Teri the next day, she mentioned that this was the first time we had an uninterrupted meal at lunch or dinner at the Cape, the first time that work didn’t join us at the table so to speak. As I told her about my dream, the significance began to sink into me and I started to recognize just what my subconscious had done. Without any suggestion or request, and completely without my knowledge, once it found “us” on the Cape, my subconscious mind immediately prepared for the “bad news” phone call or the “call me” text. And when they never happened, it went hard to work on developing a scenario around that expectation and then executed it in a dream – fascinating!!
I had always scoffed……well, perhaps not scoffed – that’s too strong a word – I had never placed a great deal of credibility into dreams and meanings: dream interpretations carrying any significance in real life. To me dreams were just imagine let loose to do as it sees fit and little more. But this made me recognize how much of the real world carries into the dream world, without our even knowing it. So perhaps pay a little more heed to your dreams? As a non-vivid, non-fantastic dreamer, I wonder if my dreams carry more or less significance than those who dream of dragons and flying and magic. Or perhaps our dream structure and substance merely follows our thought patterns; mimics the way our minds work and process thoughts and ideas. I don’t know. But I do know, dear reader, that there is more truth in dreams than I had previously acknowledged and I urge you each to study your own a bit more than perhaps you are. Sleep well – pleasant dreams!