Story 5: Grandfather’s Learning Dream
Grandfather was born around the end of the last century. One of seven boys, their family was the first in the area to have a car. By the time he died, cars with their roads were everywhere. On our last day together he drove us out of the front gate in his yellow, retro 1930s-looking Cadillac Seville, turned right and then slowly brought the Caddy to a halt at the side of the road.
Turning to me with a wry grin, he said: “I’ve no idea where we are going! And even if I get where I am supposed to go, I often can’t remember the way home!” I reminded him where we were going and he proceeded forward again, presumably trusting that he would be able to find the way home at some point which indeed he did. He was about 91 at the time and his wife of over fifty years had passed a year earlier; two years later he would follow her into the great mystery awaiting us all.
Years earlier he told me that throughout his life he had had a recurring dream:
“I enter a large, stone institutional building fronted with broad staircase and huge columns which takes quite a while to climb up and then I walk down a long, wide corridor until I find myself in a large examination room with hundreds of students seated at their wooden desks already with heads down and writing their responses. I sit down at my assigned desk, look down at the page and then realize with dismay that I have absolutely no idea what the exam is about!”
I am not into dream interpretation Per Se but some dreams leave impressions. My takeaway from this one is that even though we don’t really know where we come from or where we are going the journey we call ‘life’ has something to do with learning and involves some sort of test in which one can do well or poorly. Also, there are many things about life and the nature of this collective dream world we create and seemingly dwell in for a while which are beyond our ken.
For fun, this linked page shows the examination for Harvard from 1869, a couple of generations before Grandfather’s time: https://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/education/harvardexam.pdf
Here is another grandfather story, the Cherokee parable of the wolf:
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “the one you feed.”