Storytelling at Work
April 21, 2021
The Dream Letter


Stories, like air and most people's discomfort with their driver's license photo, are omnipresent. Stories are everywhere, even in our dreams.

Deconstruct any dream and you will find story, the narrative our subconscious mind conjures up even while we are sleeping. Yes, our body may be asleep, but our mind is not, continuing the saga of our lives. We are late night scribes, it seems, purveyors of tales that need to be told, at least to ourselves.

What follows is a story I dreamed, one night, early in my 29-year marriage to the extraordinary Evelyne Pouget -- a marriage that has recently come to an end. Ah... the dream of it all!

The scene opens with Evelyne and I in what seems to be a classroom at her Guru's ashram. We are both sitting behind wooden desks, which are neatly arranged behind a number of other desks, all in rows. Each of us are handed "test books" so we can write our answers to a question that has not yet been asked. I look to my right, where Evelyne is sitting, and notice that her test book looks very different than mine. Hers is an elegantly bound brown leather tome with embossed designs on the cover. As she turns the pages, I can see that each one contains a line of sanskrit, with space below it for her answers to be written.


Mine is a plain-looking "blue book", the kind my college professors used to hand out before exams. It is bound together with staples and there's a place for my name on the cover.

The topic we are being asked to write about? The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. That's it. Nothing else. There is no fine print beneath that sentence, no word length, no time limit, no detailed instructions. Just write about The Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. That's it.

I open my booklet to begin writing, but notice there's a piece of paper in the front of it -- one with all the answers. But I don't want anyone else's answers. I want to write my own. So I raise my hand and someone comes to take the answer page away. As I do, I notice, that Evelyne's Guru has begun slowly descending a staircase -- one I cannot see from where I'm sitting. I continue watching. Twenty seconds later, her Guru reappears, holding, in her right hand, a glass with some mint green powder on the bottom of it. Then she fills the glass with water and hands it to me to drink. I do. Then I complete my test.

The next thing I know, I am being handed a sealed envelope with Evelyne's test scores in it. On the back are two words. Just two: "Support Evelyne."

Then the scene changes. I am standing in a forest. It is green, dense, and very ancient. I am alone. There are no paths, no signposts, and no one to ask for directions. Letter in hand, I begin walking. Off in the distance, I see the vague outline of what seems to be a hut. I keep walking until I arrive. I do not knock. I just turn the doorknob and enter. The door is open.

In front of me, to my left, is a wooden staircase, going up, it's stairs well-worn. To my right, I see six young men, who I assume to be some kind of security force. Thin, pale, and silent, they seem to be yogis. All I am doing is standing there, letter in hand. I glance at them and they glance at me. Their thoughts, which I can read, are telling me to stop, but there is no power in them, no conviction, no life. It was, as if, they were performing some kind of ritual they don't completely understand. The more I look at them, the more I see they are not really yogis at all -- merely New Age, suburban pretenders, trying too hard to be holy. I walk past them, without a word, and ascend the staircase.

At the top, there is a room, a small room, some kind of sanctuary. Evelyne is standing in the middle of the room, waiting. I walk forward and hand her the letter. Then I wake up.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: Some spiritually-minded people, including Australian aborigines, claim the world is just a dream -- that it's not real, even if the dream seems real. Lao Tzu, the great Chinese sage once dreamed he was a butterfly, but confessed to not knowing whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

If there's anything certain, it's this: nothing is certain. The stories we dream and end up telling are our best attempts at making sense of our life experiences. Are they real? Only if we believe them. Can they be interpreted differently? Of course they can. Does this mean your life is a dream? Or, perhaps more accurately, does it mean that you are dreaming your life and then telling stories to help you make sense of your dream. Who knows? The fact is this: you have a choice -- and so do I -- about what stories we dream and what stories we tell.

What is the most memorable dream YOU have ever had and who might benefit from you telling it?

"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." - Carl Jung

I was awakened from the dream by this man
Photo: Ryul Davidson, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at April 21, 2021 02:45 PM

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Storytelling at Work is a blog about the power of personal storytelling – why it matters and what you can do to more effectively communicate your stories – on or off the job. Inspired by the book of the same name, the blog features "moment of truth" stories by the author, Mitch Ditkoff, plus inspired rants, quotes, and guest submissions by readers.

Order the book:

Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Do you want to know more about the book before buying it? Click here for Mitch's response to frequently asked questions about Storytelling at Work – the perfect book for people who think they have no time to read.
The Workshop
Storytelling is an "unconscious competency" – an ability we all have that all too often remains inaccessible to us. Enter the Storytelling at Work workshop – a simple way to activate this powerful, innate skill.
Wisdom Circles
Want to establish a culture of storytelling in your organization or community? Looking for a simple way to help people to share their meaningful, memorable stories with each other? Here's how.
Podcasts & Videos
Click here to view and listen to a series of interviews with the author of this blog. Go beyond the written word. Listen. Feel. Elevate the conversation. Understand what the big deal is about personal storytelling.
Blogs 'R Us
If you like this blog, you might also like Mitch's other two blogs: The Heart of Innovation and The Heart of the Matter. Mitch is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.
Idea Champions
When Mitch isn't writing, he's captaining the good ship Idea Champions, a leading edge innovation consulting and training company based in Woodstock, NY. What their clients say.