Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Late Night Chat with The King

I don't keep a dream diary, although some writers have suggested it's as a good idea. They say one ought to place it on the night stand so dreams can be recorded upon waking. I tried that once; the next morning what I'd written made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It was gobbledygook -- word salad, we call it in psychiatry. Some people can be coherent at 3.00 AM but apparently, I'm not one of them.

Fortunately, I was doing a little better when I dreamed about Elvis Presley last night. Now, as best I can recall, Elvis has never dropped by for a nocturnal visit with my unconscious. John Denver, yes -- and often -- The King, no. Nor have I been thinking about him lately. Since I don't usually listen to oldies stations, how he found me out in heaven's left field is a mystery.

Anyhow, the dream went like this. A friend of mine had won an internet contest for an opportunity to meet Elvis after an upcoming concert. Having already met him once previously and wanting to share his good fortune, he passed the winning email announcement on to me. Talk about a pal. The next thing I knew, I was backstage, but Elvis' manager was trying to impress some gorgeous babe he'd brought along with him, and presented her as the winner.

I watched all this unfold with the kind of detachment we try to maintain in psychotherapy -- not unfeeling, but withholding judgment. Eventually the room emptied and Elvis was left alone, at last able to fill a plate of snacks from a buffet that had been prepared and enjoy a little solitude. I walked up and introduced myself as the real winner and gave him a printout of the email as proof. Reading it over, he said, "Looks like you got short-changed."

"It depends on how you look at it," I replied. "At least I don't have 10,000 people around while I'm talking to you." It was one of those times when being "last" really meant being "first."

"Mm. Okay, I'll give you time for one question. What would you like to know?"

I thought for a few seconds and said, "You've got to have people asking you for something all the time. How about, what can I do for you?"

He was taken aback, fell silent, then said, quite seriously, "Don't be impressed with me."

I thought about all the disguises he surely had to wear in order to have a little anonymity.
"I can do that. It must be hard, when you're not able to pull on a pair of jeans and walk down the street unnoticed." He looked at me and nodded. He had ceased being royalty and I had ceased being a peasant. We were just two guys talking about life.

The first thing that came to my mind on waking, was how impressions create expectations and expectations inhibit a person's ability to be themselves. Perhaps without even realizing it, we find ourselves fulfilling a fantasy rather than being genuine. Some relationships won't permit anything else, partners or whomever having become so invested in our fulfillment of an image. Others, the kind in which we thrive, support us as individuals, encouraging us to take risks and grow. I know which one Elvis wanted and since it was my dream, he's offered a clue as to which ones are best for me, too. I guess you never know what's going to result from a late night chat with The King.

(P.S. A "guilty pleasures" admission: I love "Jailhouse Rock.")

(Creative Commons Image by
hlima via Flickr)

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