Under My Skin

When I woke from a dream this morning around 3, I made a point of focusing on the dream so I would remember it when I awakened for the day a few hours later. Then, later, when I finally got out of bed around 6, I remembered the odd dream. I was a guest in the new “getaway” home of a gay couple I knew from before I retired; two very nice guys who, when they got married after we moved to Hot Springs Village, invited us to their post-wedding party. This new home—that I somehow knew was an apartment in a tiny enclave of extremely modern-looking underground apartments—was entirely a product of my imagination; I have seen photos of their grandiose custom-built house in Sedona, Arizona, which is nothing like this little apartment. In addition to these two men, another guy from earlier in my business life—who had been a member of the Chad Mitchell Trio—was present. The three of them walked ahead of me toward an elevator, but I when I saw an ashtray on a table along the route of our travels, I paused to light a cigarette. The smaller man of the couple paused to wait with me while I smoked, but the other two men went ahead into the elevator. But when I realized I had not been told it was okay to smoke, I put the cigarette out. When I looked up, the other man was gone, too. I was alone in the room and did not know how to get to the elevator, though I knew the direction I should follow. And I followed it; but I had to try to step over some large rectangular stone boxes filled with water to go in that direction. I felt embarrassed and out-of-place. Suddenly, the former singer from the trio appeared and told me smoking without being authorized to do it was a serious faux pas. And that’s all I remember. I haven’t smoked in eighteen years. And I haven’t been face-to-face with my singer friend for at least twenty-five years. Odd what can emerge from one’s mind in the midst of sleep.


It just occurred to me that my little black book of Zen-influenced quotations is not on my desk. I do not recall the last time it was there, within easy reach. The only book within easy reach is The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx, one of my all-time favorite pieces of fiction. It is there because I took it off a bookshelf in my study to give to my girlfriend, who has not read it; she looked at the size of print and said she would rather order and pay for it for her Kindle so she could read the words. I flipped open the book just now and saw these words, which will have to do in place of a quotation from my Zen book:

Through the great storms of life he did his best,
God grant him eternal rest.

Hmm. Those words do not convey a message of the kind I like to include in my blog posts. But they will have to do, in the absence of my Zen book and given my sloth and unwillingness to do an internet search for meaning.


I woke up considerably later than normal, so I am out of sync with the day. I detest having to cope with days that do not begin with isolation, serenity, and calm reflection. Dream recall does nothing to smooth out the rough edges of an unexpectedly strange morning. Perhaps later in the day I can find time alone to attempt to meditate myself into a state of placid renewal. Between trips to the new house to check on progress and before the church board meeting. Off I go in an attempt to become the gentle, cool, and unruffled man I know is hidden somewhere beneath my skin.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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