Not everything I believe is rational, but most of it is.
Most of my world is solid, material and fairly predictable. Almost everything has an explanation if I look long enough.
But as much as I hate to admit it, there are things which I can’t explain — and I often find hidden meaning in those unexplained things. Some of those inexplicable things have felt holy at times. Others of them have felt evil. Some have felt ambiguous and baffling. (I have a collection of stories which I rarely share.) But something in me looks for meaning in these unexplained experiences.
I know this is a common human trait. (Apophenia is the psychological term.) I’m rational enough to know I might be looking for meaning in things which are really just random and meaningless noise in some quantum field. But I’ve had two experiences this week which leave me feeling as though someone’s trying to tell me something.
Several nights ago, I had a dream which was unlike anything I’ve ever dreamed, but let’s start with something that I know is physically real.
When I left work at 5:15 Friday evening, I found a note under a windshield wiper of my car. It simply read, “Don’t give up on her. Trust me.”
I was the last person left in the building when I left. Only two other cars had been to the building all afternoon — at least to my knowledge — and the drivers of both cars work at the company. I had an immediate thought, but I have no rational explanation. Nobody even knows my thoughts on the subject of this particular “her.”
Two or three nights ago, I dreamed about this woman’s late father. I didn’t tell anyone about the dream, but it’s burned into my brain. I never met him, so I have no way of knowing how similar the man in the dream was to the real man. And I have no idea why he showed up in my dream.
I wish now that I’d written the details down, but there was something in me which resisted writing it out. In a way that I feel silly explaining, it felt too important for me to put it into words. But here’s what I recall.
I was on my way to a house which I knew was my home, but I had never before been there. It was a masterpiece of beautiful and warm modern architecture. It felt like home, even though I had never seen it. There was a small crowd of people waiting. They were milling about talking and eating and drinking. Everyone seemed happy and it felt like a celebratory event.
I knew they were waiting for me — and for a woman who was traveling there separately.
The woman’s father was there and he was with a woman who I presume was a wife or girlfriend. The only other people among the crowd who stood out were two naked women who were behaving in sexually provocative ways. I didn’t know who they were, but I was concerned that the woman who was coming to meet me might think I was attracted to them instead of to her. I wished they weren’t there.
The man greeted me warmly. Even though I never met him in real life, his eyes made a strong impression on me. His eyes were piercing and open, as though nobody would be a stranger to him. He shook my hand and welcomed me. Then he gestured toward food on a nearby table and offered the food to me.
“I’m not hungry right now,” I replied. “I’m not going to eat until she gets here.”
He looked disappointed in me. There was a look of serious disapproval on his face.
“Son, that’s what a little boy would do,” he said. “A real man will eat when it’s offered.”
I remember feeling strongly that I didn’t want to disappoint him, but I declined.
“A real man will do what he thinks he needs to do,” I said, “without being concerned about what someone else thinks he should do.”
The man’s face relaxed and his disapproval disappeared.
“That’s exactly what I hoped you would say,” he said. He had been testing me. “You be your own man, not somebody who gets told what to do. Congratulations.”
And then there was murmuring in the crowd that let me know she had arrived, although she was completely out of my sight. I stood next to this man — his wife or girlfriend on his left and me on his right — and he put his hand on my left shoulder in a fatherly way.
And then the dream was over.
It was just a dream, but something in me finds meaning in it. Wishful thinking? Random firing of neurons? Unconscious mind working through issues? I have no idea. I just know that a little voice in my gut whispers that it’s meaningful.
And now there’s this odd note.
Maybe someone put it onto the wrong car. Maybe it was someone’s idea of a joke. Maybe it was some well-intentioned person who really intended to tell me something but was too vague to make the point.
The rational part of my brain has absolutely no idea.
The voice in my gut — intuition, heart, whatever — whispers, “Pay attention to this. There’s something you need to hear.”
I know there are perfectly reasonable explanations — potential ones that I could find — to explain away these sorts of things. Maybe I just don’t want to. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. There are dozens of maybes.
I just know that the times in my life when I’ve ignored these “strange things” tend to be the times when things get off track for me. (There was the bizarre visit I had from an old woman about eight years ago who called herself Sister Lorena, for instance.) Maybe this is another one. Maybe I’m not supposed to give up on someone. Maybe a man who I never met would have something to say to me. Maybe someone put a message on my car and actually knew what he or she was talking about.
Remember that old poster that Fox Mulder had on the wall of his office — the one showing a UFO and the words, “I want to believe”?
I’m sane. I’m rational. I’m reasonable.
But in so many ways, I want to believe.