I think the situation is at least very unusual.
I’m not sure how, but I know that I’m asleep while feeling I’m entirely conscious. “I must be dreaming”, I mutter to myself and the firmament.
I seem to possess all my senses.
It’s not an unpleasant sensation. Rather like viewing a mirror above he surface of water in which you are completely submerged, and seeing yourself through this unfamiliar filter. If I had to pick one descriptive word, “hydromatic” fits. Distorted, but recognizable. Dream reality. Only slightly unnerving, but nothing to fear. I know there is a point I am presently missing and wonder what that could be. I wander about, uncertain of that point. Then I find the man.
He wears nothing extraordinary.
Baggy pants and sandals. Pull over shirt and a gold chain. He appears almost cherubic, but for his face, which is supported by his left hand and arm resting on his crossed right leg and is well lined by concentration or concern. His hair is classically long, his nose almost Roman. Eyes blue, like old glacier sea ice with all the salt leached away by years of cold existence. He sits on what appears to be a large tree stump.
I am shocked at his presence. But I want to ask him a question.
“Hello”, I say, “How are you?”
“Ich habe Angst,” he replies, not at all surprised at my presence. He then starts a rapid stream of language I find very hard to follow.
“Please speak English!” I demand, wanting to regain control of the dream’s velocity.
“I am afraid”, he states in a scholarly huff. I reflect on this for a moment while he stares into space, lost in some mental fugue.
I don’t like how this is shaping up. I just don’t think I’m up to discussing ANGST with some hidden Germanic side of my own psyche. That’s something I did in the 60’s with young women of the period for various reasons. I hope I have progressed some! I decide to continue my journey and turn to go.
But then I reconsider. After all, I am asleep. There’s not much else to do. I face him, and with my most quizzical expression in place ask, “What in God’s name could you possibly be afraid of out here in my own dreamscape?” and wait for a reply which I hope is not going to be in German.
“I am afraid of the smell of cinnamon,” he states with just a little hint of embarrassment, perhaps suspecting some sort of Freudian connection to this whole encounter. Funny, I never thought of “cinnamon” as a power word.
There is a very long pause as we each stare at the other. I’m trying to figure out the enormity, or lack thereof, of his statement. He is obviously fascinated by the fact that he has really formed the words which attempt to frame some symmetry of his mind over which he has no control. This is causing an internal struggle of some significant degree. Being asleep, I’m not hampered by the norms of everyday society, so instead of calling 911, I gasp audibly, which satisfies the Man that at least I appreciate his dilemma.
I am compelled to address his statement. Not that I want to, but it’s like standing next to some giant vortex which pulls in direct proportion to how close the object is, and I’m only two feet from the Man and his comment.
“Let me understand,” I begin. “You are afraid of smelling cinnamon, how did you….”
“No, no, no! I am not afraid of smelling cinnamon, you did not listen! I am afraid of the smell of cinnamon.”
Again we stare at each other. I begin to wish I had turned and walked away initially, but I feel sure I would have encountered some other situation just as bizarre. I dismiss those vague feelings of regret, and focus on what the Man just said. It is obvious he is waiting for my reply.
“That is a very fine distinction,” I say.
“But a distinction, none the less,” he replies so quickly that I know I’m in the presence of one who has contemplated this one issue long and hard, and is still perplexed by its seeming simplicity.
I have this dream infrequently. But it does repeat itself. It’s almost as if it has a clock of its own, and the Man’s progress towards his own resolution are the seconds of his own consciousness. Perhaps one night he’ll resolve his fear, then what will I say? I might be forced to search for another, even finer, distinction (none the less!).