A few months before my planned retirement date, I had an unusual dream. I know we do not fully understand how our minds process data while we sleep but when we can recall a dream; it is often interesting and sometimes even enlightening how different events at the time get woven into our dream. In case you have not followed my posts previously, a little background information may be helpful.
After almost 35 years working at the same location, I am retiring. But the cause of my retirement is not necessarily a planned event; it is the result of our work site closure and relocation out of state. I was one of the employees designated to work until the site closure actually occurred to ensure a smooth transition of functions to the new site. And since I was planning on retiring in 2018 anyway, it did not make sense for me to relocate to a new site for what would likely be less than a year of additional employment.
Prior to my dream, several related events occurred.
First, for some time, I had been thinking about the fact that when I left, there would be no retirement party. Not that my vanity caused me to wish for the recognition in such an event but just the acknowledgement that there would be no happy celebration of one of the most significant milestones anyone can achieve in their professional career. Over my years at this location, I had been to numerous joyous occasions when others retired. It seemed almost as if rather than me leaving the company, it was leaving me.
Then a few days before I had the dream, my boss told me that rather than executing the previous plan of consolidating the last few remaining employees onto the first floor of our multi-floor building, that we had had an offer on the entire site and may have to actually vacate the site before our planned closing date.
With that as background, in my dream, I was going to a surgery center to have some procedure performed, for what I do not know. When I entered the center, there was a vast number of beds sunken into the ground so that the bed surface was level with the floor. The room was divided into plots with four beds to a plot, each surrounded by a walkway. The beds were of different sizes and styles (I tried to draw this image for you but alas, I am not a very good free-hand artist).
I don’t know if I arrived late but there was no more room for me on that floor so I had to go down a long walking escalator to the lower level. When they took me to my bed, rather than a bed level with the floor, it was a coffin. I remember sensing it was going to feel claustrophobic and uncomfortable and I was not going to be able to move around.
I told the attendant I did not want to be in that coffin and so was shown to another bed much like the others in the room.
The next thing I remember, much like when we are sedated for a medical procedure, was afterwards. I never understand what procedure was performed on me. But my next image was of me standing at a loading dock. Backed up to the building were the open doors of an 18-wheeler trailer. Inside were rows and rows of identical wedge shaped containers, almost like roller luggage bags. I must have been told the trailer was loaded with biological tissues from other patients who’d had procedures, the contents of which were being taken offsite for sanitary incineration.
My bag was not on the truck and then the doors were closed and the truck left. After the truck was out of sight, my bag arrived at the dock all by itself.
Somehow I knew that my red and black work backpack, which contained my work computer and my personal iPad was also in the roller bag. But when I looked closely at the bag, thinking I needed to take out my backpack before it went off to the incinerator, I could see that there was something beating inside the bag like a human heart.
I knew I couldn’t open it for fear of what I might see inside and then all of a sudden the beating heart stopped.
My next thought was, wait I am not dead. Even though the heart in there has stopped beating, I am still alive. I then wheeled my bag into a secluded alcove where I planned to take out my backpack without anyone seeing me. Then I woke up.
I shared this dream with my wife over dinner that night and she thought it was quite revealing. She coaxed me through interpreting what it might mean.
The work life that I had known for so many years was dead but I was not. Something was taken from my body but I had survived. Going to the lower surgery center level was probably me having to relocate at work. Being lead to the coffin were the months of anticipation knowing our site was closing, in a sense dying. And the 18-wheeler was filled with human losses from all of the other employees impacted by this site closure reminiscent of how all our lab samples had actually been loaded onto an 18-wheeler months before and relocated to a new lab.
While this may sound like a bit of a morbid dream, I think it will help me bring closure to my working full time. I am actually very much looking forward to “retiring” although I must say that with air quotes as I plan to continue to teach and potentially consult. I know it will mean change for the life my family and I have known for so long. But I expect it to be a joyous change with more time for travel, more time with my family, and more time for other fun activities. SO close that casket and let the fun begin!