Monday, August 29, 2011

Deception from the Land of Nod

Today is the first day of classes and every fall, I teach logic at 8:00 in the morning on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Living an hour from campus and realizing that in order to get anything done during the day, the only way to secure a block of uninterrupted time is to arrive before the campus rouses, I get up early. I mean early. I'm an atheist, but have no problem describing the hour I awake as ungodly.

So, I was horrified when this morning I looked at the alarm clock to see it read 7:15. Two words go through your mind. One of them is "holy" and the other one decidedly isn't. Like grieving, there is a process in cases like this and the stages are fixed. First there is panic. The heart thumps, the stomach falls, the back of the neck get s hot. Late on the first day of classes. A big no-no. Then there is denial. "Maybe I can make it if I..." Next comes the blame. "Who messed with the clock? Was it TheWife, the short people?" Then doubt. "Did I set it for p.m, not a.m.?" We move to the consideration of alibis, "how can I squirm out of this?" and then finally onto acceptance.

Having gone through all of the stressful stages, it was with complete acceptance that I walked to my car in the morning sunlight -- something I usually do not see -- when unexpectedly, the real alarm went off. It had all been a dream. My mind was messing with me. At times like this, one word goes through your mind and it isn't "holy." Yes, I would not have to deal with being late, but there is still a deep sense of annoyance at having to have gone through what I did for no good reason.

It is hard not to play the Freudian game of trying to create just-so stories to explain the meaning of such dreams. But even if we do not attribute subconscious meaning to these events, is there some way in which they serve us?