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  • Karl Thunemann

Suppose Q Is Tracking a Different Circle?

Note: this is the same dream presented in s preceding epistle about Q, repeated here to spare the reader from having to shift back and forth.


I’m living on the San Francisco Peninsula where I grew up. I’m just beginning a new daily commitment. Every day I must make my way into the City for a vaguely defined appointment. Sometimes I will have a driver; sometimes I will use public transit. Today is my first day. Across the room I notice a figure—a giant red capital Q. He seems a bit obese. (Later, I will wonder it he has a face: It’s indefinite.) Big Q appears flustered, as if he doesn’t know what’s expected of him. Definitely a male, though I don’t look for the clinching details.

Suddenly it dawns on me that I am Q, although I can’t tell if he is aware of me as a separate entity, as I am of him. I recall something of the preamble to the dream, which involves sleeping in a darkened bedroom. It’s much like the “Alzheimer’s dreams” I often had when my father was alive. In those dreams (I’ve had more than a hundred, I’m sure) my father and I are sleeping in the same room, sometimes in the same bed.   These dreams have many different formats. Often there’s a doomsday machine in the closet; when it goes off, I too will have Alzheimer’s. And sometimes there’s something I have to do—or avoid doing at all costs. If I am successful, I can evade the disease. But I can never remember WHAT the action is, nor do I recall whether I’m supposed to do it or avoid doing it to protect myself. For all their variety, the dreams are essentially the same.

But here, Q never leaves this room: Instead, I have visions of him, stepping down naked from a streetcar near San Francisco State, or trying to park his car and find a discreet way to reach his destination.


What does a dream “mean”? It has become an axiom of dreamwork to suppose that dreams are susceptible to multiple interpretations. (1) As noted in the preceding epistle, this dream seemed to arrive with an ironclad meaning that directs me back to a review of thousands of dreams I have recorded over the past forty years. But suppose the dream marks a turning point? As mortality reaches out to embrace me, perhaps the dream illustrates the new work required to accept this inevitability.


I prefer the Tibetan vision of reincarnation to Cayce’s: It doesn’t posit going through life after life as a discrete entity, as if you were always the same person.

In that case, the echo of my I-5 dreams might suggest preparing for a new beginning, rather than a life review. I’m hesitant to call it a new beginning, as that smacks of reincarnation. Consciously, I’m not a believer. But something has lodged itself in my brain. A couple of years ago when I began reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche, I thought it to be the best book about meditation I had ever read. But when I reached the subject of reincarnation, I recoiled and eased out of the book. Still, during this same period I read a book about Edgar Cayce and found myself caught up—but not held—by his vision of life upon life down through the ages. I felt gratitude that I was not part of his entourage. It felt stifling. Yet something still drew me, something akin becoming accustomed to the band of actors cast again and again in Robert Altman movies.




I prefer the Tibetan vision of reincarnation to Cayce’s: It doesn’t posit going through life after life as a discrete entity, as if you were always the same person. It’s too mystical for that. But there is something going forward, a sense of karma to be addressed in future lives. And I do have karma that seems unlikely to be resolved in whatever time remains in this lifetime. Resolved? Hell, I’m having enough trouble trying to understand why this karma is unequivocally mine.


So humor me—I must work through this dream with reincarnation as an offstage nag. Who is Q? I can’t be certain, but I leap to connect him to the flotilla of lower-case a’s that appears in the epistle about affectionate attachments Yes, I also equate them with the frustrated efforts of my once-prodigious memory to perform its accustomed tasks. It’s just as likely that they mark the muted, still unintelligible responses to my looming appointment with mortality. Once united with Q, perhaps they will be melded into a customized presentation of Frequently Asked Questions.


And to go back to the starting point, which is designated in my dream as San Francisco, even if it is not biographically correct. My dreams chose it as a point of debarkation, decades ago. In imagining a new cycle, choosing San Francisco makes sense. And California State University at San Francisco? I must have set foot there once or twice, but its primary import to me is that my mother matriculated there in mid-life to complete her bachelor’s degree, then went on to earn a master’s degree in creative writing—with honors—in her early fifties. As a message to me in later life this just might underscore the importance of continuing education, however I can gain it, for the life that follows.


So, I may be starting off anew, once again in San Francisco. My dreams seem stuck on this point. I’m game for this challenge, even if at the expense of presenting myself as naked, awkward, overweight and confused. This challenge opens new vistas. It feels exciting, so unlike my initial interpretation of the

dream. (2)




(1)  This may expand the value of dreams, but it also makes them difficult to title, which leaves the present dream untitled. Let’s see if working through an alternate interpretation will produce a fitting name.

(2) How’s this for a dream title: “Red Q Marshals his Forces.” It seems important that Q is red. I so rarely dream in color. Red is the color of blood, and not owned by Republicans.

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