Last night, I had a recurring dream.
Actually, it’s more of an episodic dream. It always has one central premise, and then it goes on from there.
At the beginning of each of these dreams, I pick up a guitar and start playing… but I can’t hear the strings. I can feel them vibrating; I can hear the pick scraping against them. I just can’t hear music.
In these dreams, I’ve tried to remedy the situation in a number of ways. Restringing the guitar was an obvious choice, but it didn’t work. Replacing the guitar with a newer one didn’t work either… not even when I went back and got a really sweet electric model.
It doesn’t matter. I can’t hear them.
In last night’s dream, I picked up an acoustic guitar, and sat down to sing and play some favorite old songs… The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down… Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay. No good. I played the chords…I could even tell when I’d played the wrong ones! But I couldn’t hear them, no matter how hard I scraped against those strings.
Finally, I said to myself, “I’m playing the wrong instrument.”
I went to a bedroom closet in my old house, picked up my daughter’s violin, and said, “This should do it.” After all, the violin is something you hold right next to your ear. I started playing a tune (remarkably, since I do not play the violin), and I heard the first few notes… softly, but I heard them! Then they grew fainter, and fainter, and fainter. I don’t think I played more than four or five bars of music before all the sound died out again.
The last words I remember thinking were, “Damn. Pianos have strings too.”
These dreams terrify me.
They may have begun years ago, after I picked up an unplugged electric, and tried to play a song I had unforgivably forgotten. At that point, I hadn’t played a guitar in ages. The last time I’d tried to play one of my own, my hand had cramped up horrifically. Having once been a pretty good guitar player, I was frightened and ashamed of how I’d let that skill go to waste.
But it’s really amazing how that one little incident has been pervading my dreams for years, taking on a most unpleasant life of its own.
It has gotten to the point where I am afraid of guitars. The two I have (which I’ve always loved) are sitting in a closet I seldom look in… and I try not to see them whenever I have to reach for something in there. I am afraid to touch them and hear nothing. I am afraid the dream will become a reality in my waking hours.
I wish someone would tell me what this means!