THE GUARDIAN ANGEL COURSE
Dreamed 1984/9/29 by Chris Wayan
We're sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen
--REM, "Exhuming McCarthy"
I've gotten involved in a conspiracy to rob Stanford University, then head for the airport. Flight 58 to Caracas, here we come!
But the Stanford cops are more alert than we thought. We snap and panic, blowing our cover. Firefight! We're chased on foot through the stone arches around the Quad.
But the drama lurches into farce. We can't lose--no matter how we're trapped, the locks shatter, the bullets miss. Our luck's so good it's... BORING.
Okay, that can be fixed...
So now I'm wandering through an expensive ranch house looking for a place to piss. Reach the bathroom to find a line. Split (signs direct us) into lines for Adults and Kids, not Men and Women. I wait patiently. Creep through squarish arches... kiosks like ticket booths. We're supposed to piss on the walls and floor? My rich uncle set all this up for his amusement: get people mad over the delay, then when their impulse is to piss on his house in rage, he set it up so that's the only thing you can do... the proper thing!
He sits there watching us, smirking.
Goats wander by... and... a woman from the thieves' conspiracy! I'd rather get back to their farce; this place is even duller than guaranteed success.
"You heading for the airport?"
"Yeah" she says cheerfully. Very relaxed for someone on the lam. I follow her out to her car. "I hijacked this truck." she says proudly.
"Wow." I'm impressed. It's just a small van, but I've never even stolen a pickup. We reach the airport in no time. She confers with her contacts--she wants to load the entire truck into a 747, it's filled with valuable insider memos and records. But she has a hard time getting room for it. Our luck is fading.
When I notice, I ask myself "This dream's gone from farce to frustration... now what?"
I find out. A nurse walks in and tells me "I'm sorry. You're going to die soon. Here's the date. Better get your affairs in order."
And on the appointed date, I die.
Death is overrated. I just find myself looking down at my body, mildly relieved to find there IS an afterlife. I'm told "Actually, only 20% of your experience as Chris Wayan is over." Now that's a surprise! Not only my soul, but this particular persona goes on? Now what?
Back to work at the Stanford Library, that's what! I have to keep the same stupid job?
No, I get to leave, at least for a while. Extra time off if you die. Generous. And they send me to an afterlife career seminar! My boss thought I needed it. I have my doubts--I want more creative work, not an attitude upgrade. "Find Your Guardian Angel," what a hokey title! That's professional development?
But I go. Why not? Stanford's paying, and it beats work.
I take the stolen truck. It's a statement.
Pull up to the little white seminar hall. It's behind a gas station. The cult that runs these groups has been spreading like wildfire. It's really outgrown this cramped old headquarters but hasn't found a new space yet. I can't find a parking space nearby. The black couple from the library who came with me get out in front and I go park the stolen truck. I find a spot in a Gemco lot that would normally worry me--it feels dangerous. But hey, the car's stolen anyway.
The class is bland. My classmates are office workers--when it comes to shamanism and guardian angels, they're credulous. Rather sweet in a way--all these suited types suddenly seem like puppies falling over as they stagger around exploring inner space... I'm impressed the organizers get away with it--selling elementary shamanism as a business course! So far it's all grossly oversimplified.
I don't want to go through the motions OR denounce what they're teaching--it's legitimate enough, just too shallow to do me any good. I listen quietly, not following instructions. No point.
Why am I slowly getting annoyed? I sit quietly for 20 minutes puzzled at my overreaction...
They've standardized it, that's it! They're not respecting us, our wealth of experience; they started spoonfeeding without checking to see if any of us have different needs. No room for me to contribute my experience as one who hasn't just visited the Other World, but spent most of my life there.
Despite my impatience I stick around, since I find several staffers and classmates rather sexy.
They bring in a psychic who examines us while she's in trance (of course this is scientific--she wears a lab coat!) Calmly and clinically, she tells each of us about our spirit-self visible on the Other Side. We wait in line until (with an expert's help) we have our turn to meet our Guardian Angel.
But I fail to have a visitation! Though before the psychic gets to me, I do have a small unassisted vision, a picture of an angel and a name: a blackhaired smallish man with an unexpected, mundane, FAMILIAR name... Lincoln? Lou Grant? Actually he kind of looks like one of my classmates, one of the few others having trouble finding their guardian angels.
I'm held back; I must meditate here until I find my official Guardian Angel. My classmates are led on to the next step, a questionnaire.
I decide to do the questionnaire they're filling out... there's no one left here to tell me I'm not ready. I slip out the back door, after them.
The questionnaires are stacked by the door of a little shack behind the main structure, surrounded by tide pools. Rocky ridges, with rough shell-crusted edges, form a maze, an awkward walk across the water. One slip and OW! I plan my route to the shack... An elephant seal rears up, a seven-foot-tall column of bad temper and tusks. Now I see more, snoozing two-ton guards, scattered around the yard. Even the ordinary sea lions among them are dangerous, especially now--I heard a lot of sea lions have been suffering from a plague, it makes them snappish.
But they're can't stop me: I walk straight across and reach the stack of paper. The test makes me cynical--a personality profile that distills down to a three-letter code the organization developed. They call it "your mantra, your personal word to unlock the..." etc. What it does is guarantee any staffer can psych you out just by listening to you chant! I know the last thing I need is to take another personality test, but I'm a sucker for self-evaluation.
I read it, but I just don't fit their categories. No boxes for me! I look up, annoyed with myself for getting pulled in. The main building is an island now; the tide is rising. There's a stiff wind rising too; as I walk toward higher ground behind the shack I see the moon setting ahead of me. I'm walking almost straight into the gale now, and it's a struggle. The moonset reveals the silhouette of a building on the horizon. I walk below a waist-high ridge or ledge that shelters me a bit, and fighting heavy resistance I reach the structure--an octagonal room with vertical redwood slats. Just a hut! A sweat lodge? I peer in. Empty! The others have gone on before me. I go back out and around the lodge and see the class ahead. I hurry, and catch up at last. Though I just arrived and they may have been taught things I missed. My smugness and boredom are long gone--I feel shaken, retarded. I lack a guardian angel. I need their guidance to find one.
A classmate on my right keeps crowding me, and I turn to look directly at him, annoyed. It's my fellow fuck-up, the man with no angel. Definitely the guy I saw in my vision. For a moment I wonder if I'm hallucinating him now, for he's dressed as a samurai! No, maybe they dressed him for a ritual, but this guy is real, he made a point of that by deliberately bumping me. Short, lithe, rather pale, with an alert but open expression. Graceful. And then it comes clear.
My other self. My guardian angel. Waiting for me to acknowledge him--or also enrolled in the class to find his guardian angel. So solid, compared to these other angels, that the teachers and students (maybe even he) did what I did: mistook him for mortal.
I couldn't summon my guardian angel because he's here--and too real to recognize.
Or... am I his? Are we each the other's?
So much for angelic hierarchy.
A PRACTICAL NOTE
What's the dream saying to DO? I think it's warning me that with my serious allergies, the only thing that'll protect me from toxic shock is to be very alert and scrupulous about what I eat, where I go, who I associate with. My guardian angel is Samurai discipline.
My dreams later repeated this idea that dreamers can be each others' guardian angels, that it's a job for the living as well as the dead--no hierarchy about it! So look closer at that jerk next to you on the bus.
Think this is heavy-handed satirical fiction? Wrong. It's a real dream--and predictive. Six years later Stanford had a scandal--the Feds caught management padding expenses in government contracts. Stanford, rather than firing the crooks up top, laid off 15% of the library staff... including me. But as a consolation, they DID give us all laid-off workers a fancy job-competitiveness course, one that turned out to be all visualizations, affirmations... watered-down New Age shamanism for spiritual toddlers!
Satire? No. A dream about history. Just... history before it happened.
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