If you’ve heard this story before, please accept my apologies and move on. I bring it up again because something similar has happened to my friend.
Eight years ago, during a particularly bleak period in my life, I had what I like to think of as a visit from the future.
In retrospect, I had no more reason for despair than I do now. However, I felt like I was trudging through a dark tunnel with no end in sight. Usually I am very good at cheering myself up—why else would I read so many novels or watch so many movies—but I was convinced that I would never get out of that cave. I knew I was being irrational and self-dramatizing, but I could not help it.
Mercifully I could still sleep nine hours a day even in this state, so my mind could take a break from thinking about itself. Early one morning—it must’ve been just after sunrise—I woke up from a deep sleep and saw a figure in brown robes standing at the foot of my bed.
Immediately I doubted the reality of what I was seeing. I had the impression of an ancient person calmly watching me sleep. It was a dream, I told myself, then I noticed my cats crouched on either side of me like marble library lions. They were wide awake and staring at the foot of my bed. Which, when I looked again, had no one there.
Here is where it gets truly odd. Instead of leaping out of bed, inspecting my house for intruders, or taking my temperature, I went back to sleep. Suddenly I felt better. The darkness had lifted.
Someone said it was a Jungian archetype: the wise old person, mentor, or guide. She thought it significant that I had been comforted instead of freaked out. Since that time I have thought of this split-second incident as a message from the future: nothing grand, just, “You’ll get here.” My visitor was myself.
This afternoon I was having merienda with Chus when he told me about his own visitor.
Early this morning he was awakened by a noise. When he opened his eyes he saw a small boy in a striped t-shirt rummaging among his papers. He said, “Hoy!” The child jumped onto his bed the way children do when they want to play, and Chus held his arm up to keep the child from landing on him. Except that the child had vanished. And Chus went back to sleep, untroubled by this home invasion.
“Could it have been you?” I asked Chus, and he said he thought so. What was he trying to tell himself? Was there something in his past that he needed to remember?
Of course, it could’ve been a dream. Or a product of indigestion. Or a trick of the light. But wouldn’t it be great if our past or future selves could show up once in a while, to remind us where we came from and assure us that we’re going somewhere? You are haunted by the memory of a figure at the end of a jetty. That figure is you yourself.