From my New York travel journal for Friday, February 20, 2009
I am getting ahead of myself again. On a chill winter morning in Manhattan, I lie under the heaped bedclothes in my hotel room and let my dream double scout the route I will take to a broadcasting studio in a couple of hours. I watch him move among the press of Friday commuters spilling from the subways, leaning with the shoulder-shoves of the wind. They are sharply defined. My double moves among them like a ghost. His form is grainy and tenuous, like an old black-and-white transparency. His facial features are indistinct. I might not be aware that I am looking at a second self, but for the white hair tumbling from under the brim of his black hat.
After breakfast, I diverge from his route to visit the nearest subway station, at 50th and 8th Avenue, holding onto my hat in the wild wind howling down the skyscraper canyon. I want to find out what train to take for my evening program at the New York Open Center on Spring Street. I enter the underground at Worldwide Plaza. I have missed the commuter rush. My footfalls echo on the long steep flights of concrete steps. I descend into a world drained of color. The area in front of the turnstiles is deserted except for a pair of NYPD cops in their dark uniforms, guns at their hips. I just want a quick look at a map of the underground, but there is nothing on the walls, and the ticket machines just sell tickets. I approach the MTA booth and ask for a map. The first guy is either deaf or doesn't speak English. The second says, "Don't have no map." I ask what train to take for Spring and Broadway, and very slowly he retrieves an ancient chart. The old fold-out subway map hangs in ragged strips. He pulls some of the strips together and traces railroad lines with his finger before he tells me I want the N or the R line.
I ascend to the cold world of Worldwide Plaza, reflecting that here the entrance to the underground is very like a portal to the Underworld, with unhelpful or incompetent gatekeepers. I follow in the tracks of my dream double to a tall building on Sixth Avenue, where the security guard snaps my photo, unobtrusively, as I sign the book. When I receive my visitor's pass, I see that it includes photo ID, but the portrait that has been taken is that of my dream double. Facial features are blurred and the image is ghostly and grainy. All you can make out distinctly is the black hat and the white hair.
This ghost badge gets me up to the 36th floor, to a reception room at the Sirius XM network that is cut in two by a stainless steel staircase. A display board above picture windows shows the names of myriad Sirius channels and the songs or shows they are broadcasting. "Elvis Lives" lights up as I sit down. When a producer for "Martha Stewart Living" comes to get me, "Take It to the Limit" by Hinder is playing.
Through headphones in the studio I listen to the host, Terri Trespicio, introduce the "Whole Life" show on which I'll be a guest. She talks about how so many people are out of work or looking for jobs and that she has a great guest to advise on that. I'm thinking, What a terrific way to introduce the practical uses of dreaming. Then she says, "But first, we'll talk to an expert on dreams." Hmmm. But now the lead-in to my segment is terrific. Terri quizzes her producer and engineer on their own dreams; the engineer writes poems from dreams. I'm starting to feel very much at home as spontaneous enthusiasm builds.
When I'm introduced, I seize the moment to bridge the gap that was left open between dreaming and the job search. I recall that Jeff Taylor, founder of monster.com - the huge online employment agency - was inspired by a dream from which he derived his start-up plan. Dreaming can be highly practical stuff. We get lots of excited callers, and soon the discussion goes deeper than the regular world. People want confirmation that their dream encounters with departed loved ones are as real as they felt. We go twisting away with a fascinating series of tornado dreams. One female caller reports that every time she is changing jobs she dreams of a tornado. These dreams are scary, but full of driving energy at the same time. Except that when she last made a job shift she did not dream of a twister - and she is more unhappy at work than she has ever been. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I speculate, maybe we need something like a twister to get us out of Kansas. The host of the show immediately grasps one of the key things about Active Dreaming, which is that we always seek to embody the energy and healing and creative potential of dreams, and come up with an action plan.
Later in the day, I take the subway down to SoHo. The station I choose this time is better lit and there are maps on the walls. It clearly belongs to a slightly higher cycle of the Inferno than the one under Worldwide Plaza. But my one-time ticket is rejected at the turnstile. The reason comes up in digital letters. I have to swipe my card faster. It won't do, in New York, to be too slow at swiping.
I have a little time to spare by the time I reach the Open Center, so I walk up to the Spring Street Natural Restaurant and order a Brooklyn lager at the bar. Since the theme of my evening mini-workshop is "Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination," I'm alert for a fresh sign from the world - perhaps from the gusts of conversation around me - that I could use in my introduction. Immediately I hear the man on the stool next to me say to the Asian girl with him, "Coincidence drives everything. " He embarks on a complex and juicy-sounding story involving his boss and his dating habits. I'd love to get every detail but the noise level in the bar is so high that short of leaning my head against his shoulder - which does not seem like a good idea, since he seems to be making a play for the girl - I can't follow the narrative. As he winds up, she says, "You owe me about five million dollars, since I got this whole sequence started."
Intriguing, but not enough to make a really good story. I decide to check messages on my BlackBerry. There's new voicemail from my friend Roger, a New York City dreamer who came to my lecture at the 92nd Street Y the night before. "You're not going to believe this," says Roger's recorded voice. "I just got off the phone with Jeff Taylor, the founder of monster.com. He told me how he dreamed up the whole thing. He calls himself a dreamer." Now this has the makings of a story, since I used the story of Jeff Taylor's dream at the start of the radio show earlier.
There's a big crowd at the Open Center, and a buzz of energy in the room. A woman I don't know asks me, "Are you the dream man?" I tell her, "It would be really hard to say No to that. Are you the dream girl?" "I'm the Coincidence Queen," she ripostes at Manhattan speed. This feels like a wink from the universe, and we enjoy a grand evening on Spring Street, playing my Coincidence Card Game - in which messages written on index cards become a one-time deck and an instant oracle - and turning dreams into theater, finding and telling the bigger stories of our lives.
Late that evening, I decide to look for supper in the neighborhood of my hotel. The nearest places are popping with Friday night action, so I hike over to Ninth Avenue to a relatively quiet, pleasantly decorated Thai restaurant where they check and re-check my order when I ask them to make my food really spicy. "Like Thai spicy?" the waiter appears incredulous. "Like South Thailand spicy," I encourage him. (The spiciest Thai food is from the south.) "Like dragon spicy." All the wait staff watch me as I take my first bite after the steaming food is delivered. The food is perfect for my palate. Smiles all round.
As I walk back up 51st Street, enjoying the afterglow of well-seasoned food, my warning antennae start quivering. A tall, strongly-built Caucasian man is talking on a cell-phone. There's no overt reason to suspect him of any bad intent, but I know something is wrong here, and that I am in imminent danger. I move two inches to my right as he lurches or lunges at me - and avoid the collision that would otherwise have taken place. In that exact moment, I feel a surge of hot energy between us, as hot as the mouth of a blast furnace. It confirms the warning I had received, and also brings assurance of complete protection. I walk on without looking back, and am soon passing a lively crowd in front of a bar called Tout Va Bien. "All is Well."
Unpacking my pockets back at the hotel, I look at the visitor's pass they gave me on my way to the morning radio show. I smile at the ghostly portrait, so like the dream double I had seen in my floating state of consciousness around dawn. Then I notice the bold print across the middle of the card. "SIRIUS VISITOR." I've always had a thing about Sirius, the blue-white star. In some traditions, the origins of human life and consciousness are to be found in the Sirius star system. The Dogon speak of a "seed-planet" there. In the mind of Egypt, Sirius is "the sun behind the sun", and the Moist Land of the soul's memory and the spirit's desiring. As described in Dreamgates, I have led group journeys into the astral realm of that star. I've had recurring dreams over many years of needing to find the right ID. Maybe it just turned up. "SIRIUS VISITOR" is a keeper. Oh, yes. There's a black dog on the Sirius pass, naturally.