It came to me in a dream…
Earlier this year (April, to be exact), I posted about the intriguing dreams I was having given the COVID-19 pandemic.
Approximately a month after that posting, I had a particularly curious dream in which I was wandering the basement halls of a vast hospital complex. (The real-life correlate of this was when, almost twenty years ago, my late wife checked in to Stanford Medical Center for a clinical trial to combat her ovarian cancer. For some reason, we got lost in a series of basement corridors, which added disorientation to the alphabet soup of anxieties we were already experiencing.)
Returning to the dream: I don’t remember who says the words or even how or why they arise in the dream, but I distinctly recall the phrase, “A visitor and a sin,” and it was meant in the context of story.
Why this would arise while I’m wandering the desolate, labyrinthine basement hallways of a vast hospital complex currently escapes me. Thoughts, anyone?
Now, that phrase— Every story concerns a visitor and a sin—is the kind of pithy aphorism that has the ring of truth because it seems insightful, surprising, and brief. But a “ring of truth” all too often can mislead, because we are so susceptible to wanting to believe what confirms our own convictions, regardless of how accurate they are.
But the more I thought about it, the more that statement resonated with my understanding of what makes a story compelling, as long as I thought of both “sin” and “visitor” expansively.