A Known Stranger

“All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.”

–Kahlil Gibran

Everyone is a dreamer. To what extent, depends on the individual. I’ve learned over time that, just as every person is different, so too is every person’s dreaming. Some people dream in sounds and colors only, with no detailed visuals. Others dream scenes from real life, but in black and white instead of color. I am fortunate enough to have extremely vivid and life-like dreams in living colors and sounds, but no one method of dreaming is better than the other.

I dream every night, and remember my dreams nearly every night. It is extremely rare for me to have a night without dreams, and usually if that happens, it is because I have been sick. I would wager that probably 80% of the time, my dreams are just background replays of my day or week, with a dash of the normal tropes of showing up to school naked, or a dream of being chased with the horrible feeling of treading water instead of running away.

Then there’s the other 20%. The dreams with messages I sometimes seem to receive in the dreaming realm. Sometimes they are of something happening in real time to a friend. Other times, they are events yet to come, such as dreaming of my cancer, or even something as innocuous as pulling an over-sized white envelope out of my mailbox 10 months before it actually arrived. Sometimes, they are symbolic, such as my kundalini snake dream, while other times, they are quite direct. Either way, I always know, while I’m actually in the dream, that it is different somehow from normal dreams. I become lucid in the dream and suddenly it’s like I’m not really sleeping anymore. My brain is cognizant as well to take heed of whatever information I’m about to be given. Sometimes that information is more symbolism, sometimes I am given dates and names and places. I cannot control my movements or actions in the dream, I am still passive to whatever will happen, so I don’t know if it can be called truly “lucid”, but I take notes as it plays out in front of me. It has taken years of practice to be able to do this, but really, I think anyone could, with time.

The dream that I write of tonight began as any regular dream anyone might have would begin. I was on holiday with my entire family, including all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. The dream was a little wobbly in detail, wherein Liam and I were playing one moment then all the family was talking together the next, and then the very next moment I was in a shower alone. At some point in this family vacation, it was decided that dinner would be ordered on Door Dash, but I was in the shower when the order was placed. They all laughed at me when they realized they forgot to order for me.

I remember stomping around the rental house in a towel and being very angry. The dream was vaguely visual at this point, and more than seeing, I was feeling the emotions of anger and betrayal. Apparently, I was very upset about missing out on food and being disregarded.

So, feeling rather left out, I jumped on a bicycle and took off to find my own food in the city. The dream was still more emotion than imagery. I remember the feelings of sadness and hunger fading slowly into wonder and excitement as I pedaled around the big city, taking in all of the impressions of sight and sound. The sun was setting, painting the sky in shades of pink, red, and gold.

At a 4-way intersection, I stopped to wait for traffic to pass. The passing cars were flashing streams of different colors, one blending into the next, over and over again as I waited for traffic to halt so I could pedal on. Impatience began to flood over me but the cars kept streaming by without any sign of stopping.

As I stood there, one foot planted firmly on the ground, the other waiting on the pedal to push off again, I felt a vibration and heard an echo, as if there was a car crash down the road. I looked around and nearly pushed off into traffic in a dreamy haze.

Swiftly, suddenly, a hand grasped me tightly by my upper arm. I winced as the fingertips dug into my skin through the light fabric of my dress. The feeling was too real, and I realized, too, that everything had become too real. It all clicked in my brain, as it did every time this happened, listen now.

I turned to confront who held me fast by the arm, and met eyes with a strange face, yet so familiar somehow. A man, dressed in a dark grey suit with a long, beautiful coat, held his grip on my arm as if he was the only thing keeping me tethered to the ground. He was older, perhaps in his 60s or perhaps later.

His clean-shaven face was kind, though his eyes were piercing with crows feet coming off of the corners, and deep nasolabial folds framing his mouth. What struck me nearly immediately was that his hair was nearly the same color as mine, silver-white and wavy, falling around his face to land just above his shoulders. However, whereas mine is a chemically gifted color, his was all natural, a by-product of his age, no doubt.

“Do I know you?” I asked, voice still wavering from being startled. I know you…

He smiled, sadly. “You’ve started to fade.” The voice was oh-so familar, too, but also gravelly and changed with age.

“What?” I searched his face more, staring an indecent amount as I tried to place who he was. “Oh, you mean my hair? My roots? Ha, yeah I need to see my stylist but she’s out on maternity leave so I’m tryi-“

The grip on my upper arm relaxed as he brought his hand up to my face, cupping my chin and brushing his thumb tenderly over my cheek. He shook his head as he looked me over carefully, the same sad smile deepening on his face. That action, the way he held me there, definitely felt familiar.

In my mind I knew him and did not know him at all. You know, you know, repeated in my mind. But I did not know, not then. I felt color rising to my face as the man continued to stroke my cheek with his thumb, which then drifted so carefully to pass over my lips.

What does he mean, I’m starting to fade? Who are you? Who are you? When are you? Why are you touching me like that? The thoughts repeated in my mind, but I could not speak. What was becoming clear was that he knew me, and was connected to me in some way. In an unspoken manner, I felt some sort of camaraderie with him. We were similar somehow, beyond hair color.

“Stay bright,” he said, leaning forward slightly, almost as if to kiss me as he whispered, “and wake up.”

And with a gasp, I sat up bolt upright with a gasp. Conrad, my kitten, was sleeping on my chest at the time, and he narrowed his eyes and pinned his ears at me for disrupting his sleep. The room was flooded with sunlight. I should have been up, but my alarm had not gone off. Fortunate for me that the mystery stranger had woken me up in time to still make it to work without being late!

I have been wracking my brain since that morning to figure out what that was about. How am I fading? What did he mean? Who was he? Why was he so familiar and intimate with me? I can honestly say I have never had a dream where I’ve been intimate with a stranger. Most importantly, why did my brain say to listen to all of it instead of processing it as another dream?

It took a couple of days of thought before I finally understood what the take away message should be. One of those moments where suddenly it all “clicks”. I think I shall keep that meaning a secret for now, but I am eager to hear what anyone else might offer as meaning. If I am right? Then 2020 will be an interesting year indeed…

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