It’s only May, but already I have had my first back-to-school panic dream of the fall semester. Even as these dreams go, this one was pretty desperate. I was on my way to start teaching a new class at Rocky Mountain College, but the campus looked nothing like Rocky — it was more like some immense abandoned factory. I had no roster, no syllabus, no lesson plan. I wasn’t sure what room the class was in or how to find it. As I wandered around looking for it, it occurred to me that it actually may have started several hours before.
This is a recurrent theme with me. It was only about 10 years ago that I quit having these sorts of dreams about being a student — I hadn’t been to class all semester, I didn’t know where the classroom was, and so on. I haven’t been a full-time student since 1983, so those dreams hung around for a long time.
In one of my spring classes at Rocky, I had occasion to mention Plenty Coups, the great Crow chief, and related the story of his famous dream in the Crazy Mountains that foresaw the eventual dominance of the white man. As it happens, I ran across my copy of Linderman’s biography of Plenty Coups the other day, and I looked up that passage to see how accurate my memory of it was. Pretty close, actually.
I don’t remember exactly how this came up in class, but I think my point was that Plenty Coups straddled two very different worlds, and the one in which dreams and spirits and chickadees and grizzly bears determined one’s actions made every bit as much sense to him as the one in which cows displaced the buffalo and food came from planting crops.
Dreams, of course, remain potent harbingers of the future. Just a night or two again, I kept having dreams in which I needed to pee. Then when I woke up in the morning, I really did need to pee. Prophecy fulfilled!