One night, David had a dream that was nothing more than a book title:

The Cosmological Imperative

Upon awakening, he was not sure if his dream had included a visual image of a book bearing that title, or if the title had existed by itself, floating in space, as it were. Was he supposed to have written it? He didn’t know. He called the public library and a large bookstore. There was no such book.

Another night, he dreamed he was an actor on a stage. This in itself was not remarkable, for he had done some acting, in a small way, years before. In the dream, he was performing in a play by Shakespeare. At one point, he uttered this speech:

Man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority.
Struts and frets his hour upon the stage.
And then is heard no more.

When he was awake, he marveled at those words, and at the cunning of his sleeping mind. The speech made perfect sense, but it was from two different plays. The first two lines were from Measure for Measure. The last two lines were from Macbeth. He found this charming, and he felt rather proud of himself.

On another night—this was during the Christmas season—he had a purely auditory dream of the carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. The words were the familiar ones everybody knows, but the music was not the traditional air. In his sleep, he had composed a new tune, which he still remembered when awake. He was afraid he would lose it, so he kept running it over and over in his mind, humming it in the shower, thus keeping a firm hold on it until he reached his father’s apartment where there was an available piano. It was an old upright piano, the same one he had used years before in his short-lived musical studies. He picked out the dream melody on the keys and wrote it down on the staves of a music notebook he found among his student materials, carefully preserved by his mother through the years. This is the tune:






David was fully aware that it was in no way superior to the traditional melody, and was not particularly easy to sing because it had too wide a range (that leap from A up to F on the word “day” was particularly tough). What interested and puzzled him was why his sleeping self should be dissatisfied with the familiar tune and go to the trouble of composing another one?

In the first three months after his mother’s death, he had three dreams about her.

The first of these, which he dreamed the night of the evening she died, was just an image of her face, smiling, serene, immobile, like a photograph, large, in close-up, filling the dream, then quickly receding to a pinpoint in the far distance. That was all. The sweetness and tenderness of her smile seemed to be saying to him, “I am at peace.”

In the second dream, he was sitting on the couch in his living room. The room was exactly as it is in reality, except for a telephone on an end table next to the couch (there is no phone in the actual living room). His mother walked into the room and picked up the phone. “Going to call someone?” he asked her. “I’m going to talk to my sister,” she said. He got up and left the room, so that she could have a private conversation, and as he passed her, he lightly kissed her cheek, which was surprisingly cool—not clammily or repugnantly cold, but pleasantly cool—and it was then he remembered that not only was her sister dead but so was she. With that, came the realization that he was in a dream, and so he immediately woke up. He always awakened from dreams when he recognized them as such.