One night I had a dream. It was the sort of dream where you know it’s probably a dream, but you don’t ruin it by pinching yourself or anything. You just sort of go with it.
I was in my pajamas with no shoes in the middle of this endless meadow of white flowers on a beautiful clear day at a train station. Not a modern one, but an old western-like train station where you wait outside underneath an awning.
It looked liked it had been used a lot. The wooden platform had been worn down by the scuffing of shoes and the red and white paint of the awning grew dull with fading. However, I knew no one had been there in years. I don’t know how I knew this, but I did.
I don’t remember wanting to go into the field. I stood at the edge of the train station’s platform craning my head in effort to see how far the tracks went. Like the field, the tracks went on forever in a straight line. I wasn’t scared. It was a very comforting place, like a childhood hide-and-seek hotspot. Any time I questioned why I was there, I felt an invisible hand on my shoulder reassuring me that this was important. I don’t remember seeing it before it came to a screeching halt, but the train showed up.
The steam engine train was made of pure gold with black wheels and large iridescent windows. It looked sterling and perfect, as if it came straight from heaven. The doors pulled open and I walked in. Like the exterior, the interior was pristine, with gold railing and walls, and deep red velvet seats and carpet with gold threaded patterns. As I admired the train, I failed to notice the conductor until he pretended to cough, “Are you going to take your seat? Or are you just going to make us all wait, hmm?”
I spun around in surprise, “I’m so sorry, I’ve just never been on a train before and I was looking at how beautiful it all was and... There are no other people on the train.”
He looked at me with experienced eyes and considered my statement. He was a black man with strong arms and just a little on the husky side. He wore a blue uniform that clashed with the red interior. He seemed awfully out of place, but his face bore wisdom making him look like he was supposed to be here.
“Well,” he replied, “people don’t have to be on the train for you to make them wait.”
I was a little confused. “Is anyone at the next stop?”
“Nope. This is the only station.”
Now I was very confused. “But.. If no one’s waiting for the train are they waiting for me?”
“The world doesn’t revolve around you.”
I furrowed my brow. “This is a dream isn’t it?”
He stroked his beard. “In a sense.”
“Well, then I’m the most important person here because this is my dream!”
He gave a slight smile, like when a child answers a tough question with cute reasoning. “What makes you think this is your dream?”
“If it wasn’t my dream then how could I be here? How could I be having this conversation with you?”
“Perhaps someone else dreamt you up. Maybe that person’s mind shaped you from their experience? What if everything you think, know, feel, and are is all made up by someone’s subconscious imagination? And when the person wakes, would you cease to exist in just this form or completely vanish from ever existing?” I must have looked like a deer in headlights because he continued, “But that existence is not a melancholy one. You’re a thread in the fabric of that person’s mind, part of the whole. You make that person who he or she is, even if you’re just a small contribution. Without you, the fabric is not as it was created to be.” With that he patted my head and pointed to a seat as he left to take his own. “Now look what you’ve done, gone and made us all late.” Then he closed the golden door separating the box cars and the train started moving down the tracks.