Last night, I was in “a mood.” It caused me to write an email to a friend, something I too rarely do. The message was mostly silliness memorialized in language, but as I read my message this morning, I saw traces of something larger and more thought-provoking.
I related, in my message, a bit about a dream I’d had the night before. In the dream, I ran down a set of steep stairways, rushing to catch a train. I was wearing a grey tweed sports jacket. A guy heading up the stairs in the opposite direction stopped me and grabbed a device from my breast pocket. It was a lubricant pen, the kind used for maintenance of embroidery and sewing machines. I know this because once I was given such a device while attending an embroidery trade show. The guy questioned me about the pen, but I didn’t answer. Instead, I pushed him aside and continued down toward the trains.
As I reached what I think was a loading platform, a bunch of men surrounded me. They would not let me get past them, nor would they allow me to retrace my steps. Their demeanor and their words implied they planned to kill me. First, though, they wanted me to suffer and plead with them for my life. My level of panic was escalating rapidly as I tried to decide whether to try to fight my way out of the situation; I awoke just then. The dream bothered me almost all day yesterday.
My email then turned to the fact that I still do not own a dog (though I’ve wanted one for years and years). Until we moved into our latest house, my wife had begrudgingly agreed that I could get such a beast, provided I would take full responsibility for its upkeep, feeding, and exercise. But, now, we have a house with shiny wood floors. And my wife raised the issue that dog claws could mar those floors. And she’s right.
In my message to my friend, I said, “I think that’s just what the wood floors need; claw marks demonstrating their connection with the real world. That’s what the real world is all about, isn’t it? Surviving claw marks with dignity and serenity. A patina of experience.”
Today, I wonder whether I really would accept the marks on the floor? Maybe. Maybe not. I’d probably insist on creating shoes for the dog to protect the floor. But aside from the consideration about the dog, I think my message may have accidentally articulated a fundamental truth:
The real world is about surviving claw marks with dignity and serenity, living life with a patina of experience in lieu of a protective shell.