I dreamed I got a phone call from a doctor who told me that there was evidence from recent bloodwork to suggest that I had a serious disease. She was not completely sure but told me it was very likely, and perhaps I should have some additional tests done. I was stunned. This disease could go undetected for a long time, she told me, years even, so I might have developed it long ago. I thought back through the last 10 years of my life to determine when such a disease could have started. Were there symptoms I’d had but had not recognized? How could this have happened? The doctor told me she had another patient to whom she’d had to deliver similar news, and he was very upset. Perhaps I could call him to talk about it, and perhaps this would make him feel better.

I called the other patient. Like me, he was still trying to process this new development. We talked it out for awhile. I told him I could not see how it was really possible that I had this disease, but freak medical events happen all the time, right? Who knew what was possible? He told me he had been thinking along the same lines. The more the dream conversation progressed, the more it seemed that the situation was this: We could choose whether or not this information was true. We could choose to have the disease, or we could choose not to. It was a matter of what we wanted to believe, and he was looking to me for guidance. There was a long pause, and he asked me, “What are you going to do?” After another long pause, I said, “I don’t have a disease.”

I woke up feeling that this was a positive dream, yet I was unsettled. I do think that even in waking life, we choose our own realities, both individually and collectively. But the collective part is important. There are things about the collective dream of reality that we must respect if we want to continue to live this life. We cannot expect to jump from a building and survive the fall because we don’t believe the ground beneath will be solid when we meet it, and I would never suggest, in waking life, that anyone ignore a phone call from their doctor saying, for example, that they might have cancer. But we make multiple choices each day, conscious or unconscious, about what is true and real. Some of those choices are conscious and high stakes. If we are living life in a full, engaged way, lots of those choices are conscious and high stakes. There is always the possibility of being wrong. In my dream, the collective reality was at a crossroads, and it was up to me to decide where to take it.

I suspect we find ourselves in exactly this position more often than we know.

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