I’d taken a break with a colleague and wandered off for a walk in an area of the city that I had been in before, not in real life but in another dream. The whole area was a public park that stretched for miles and miles and ringed a mountain which was itself located on the northern edge of the city.
Over time the colleague I was with became my wife and our task was to take a shortcut back to get to the class on time. We ended up with many bus drivers who took off just as we arrived at the bus stop. I was so annoyed with one that I hung onto the bus and hitched a ride for perhaps 300 yards before getting off and waiting for my wife.
But unknown to me I had passed a juncture in the road, the people streaming down to a lower road or staying on the one I was on. I waited and waited. I had my cellphone but my wife did not have hers. I had gone ahead partly to scout for the next shortcut, partly out of concern that we were late.
But suddenly I realized that not only were we now very late, but we were also possibly separated and might not be able to find each other. I looked and looked but did not see her and realized that, instead of now returning to the group sooner, we would spend an even greater amount of time finding each other again, if we could.
I became alarmed and, when I couldn’t stand the situation any longer, I woke up.
And I remember saying to myself, “Don’t go so far ahead that you become separated from the group and cannot thereafter meet up.” “Stick together and don’t get lost.” And similar “lessons” from the University of the Night.
I realized that the learning had been metaphoric, designed simply to instil in me lessons at a feeling level. All was new to me in the territory I was in, just as all will be new to me in the future. And my response was to race ahead and get lost. But the result was that I then lost contact with the group and became separated. My situation at the end was worse than my situation at the beginning.
I think this is how our night-time learning operates these days. It gives us situations pitched at a feeling level that teach adaptive behavior, given how much ahead of us will be new. The lesson was embedded in much that was wonderful to see, which made the medicine go down more easily.
The park was full of beautiful vistas and green lawns and public buildings that were wonderful to behold. But in that setting my impatience had separated us and caused us grief. I awoke much sobered by the lesson and greatly educated. It wasn’t unpleasant if a little stressful. But I had the distinct feeling that I had been taught something valuable, and, at a feeling level, the lesson stayed with me.