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Tell me your dreams and I'll tell you mine

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What do dreams mean? Men have asked this question for centuries. Way back in the 2nd century, A.D., Artemidorus of Daldis, the Greek, wrote an entire text on the interpretation of dreams. It was his belief that dreams can predict the future. Still in search of the truth, Sigmund Freud wrote "The Interpretation of Dreams" in 1900. Freud believed that the motivation of all dreams was wish fulfillment and that the events of a day often spurred the dreams of that night, but that in adults dreams come from the subconscious mind and veiled their true content.

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I have had many dreams that I can almost understand: dreams of getting lost driving in a big city, dreams of searching all over some strange building for a bathroom (I know the meaning of that one), dreams of being totally unprepared for a major challenge and even dreams of playing basketball and being able to slam dunk the ball time after time. Most dreams come and go and can't even be remembered at wake up time. But I had one last night that I do remember and I have no idea if it means anything, and if so -- what?

I dreamed that as a boy my parents gave me a big package all wrapped up in white wrapping paper. But even without unwrapping the package, it was easy to tell what was inside. It was a sousaphone. You know what a sousaphone is don't you -- it's a wrap-around tuba -- much better for marching than a regular tuba because the weight of the instrument is on the player's shoulder rather than in his arms.

When I was in high school one of my best friends was Bernie who played the sousaphone. But he not only played it -- he was outstanding. He played solos in competition and beat everybody. I once wrote an article about Bernie titled, "Sultan of the Sousaphone." Bernie didn't become outstanding just because of natural talent, though he had plenty of that, he hit the top of the charts because of practice, practice, practice -- something that I avoided faithfully with my rusty trombone. I wonder if that sousaphone in the dream was a salute to Bernie who has long since joined that Big Brass Band up Yonder.

But Bernie wasn't on my mind yesterday and I don't have a wish to play the sousaphone, so I have to dig deeper into my subconscious. It's like rummaging around in a dusty attic -- many strange old images show up among the cobwebs.

Way back there was the knowledge that Warren G. Harding, our 29th President, had been an enthusiastic sousaphone player. He was president less than two years (1921 - 1923) before he died in office amidst a severe depression and government scandals involving bribes from oil companies for leasing government owned oil reserves to private companies. But Harding's administration was way before my time, so he shouldn't have been in my memory locker except from some old high school history lesson. No thanks, there was no conscious or subconscious desire to return to the Harding days.

Also back there was the knowledge that the famous director of the U.S. Marine Band, John Philip Sousa requested the C.G. Conn Music Company to come up with the sousaphone design in the late 1890s. Sousa was probably the greatest composer ever of march music with compositions like, "Semper Fidelis" (motto of the U.S. Marines, meaning always faithful), "The Thunderer" and maybe his most famous -- "Stars and Stripes Forever." I've always loved march music, especially the stirring marches of Sousa. Sousa is a hero of mine -- I suppose that's why his sousaphone showed up in my dreams.

But I'm not out of the attic yet. There's something about the sounds of the tuba (or sousaphone) and the accordion that come through the cobwebs. I hear waltzes, polkas and schottisches (I had to look up the spelling of that one) -- folk music -- being played on accordions and tubas. Here is the thing about folk music -- some of you musical sophisticates think it's below you, but the folks who play it are always smiling, always happy. Lately, all we've been hearing are gloomy, whiney sounds that musically would be "The Obama Blues," "The Tea Party Blues," "The Deficit Blues," "The Gridlock Blues," and "It's All Their Fault Blues." The mood is, "it couldn't be worse and it's not going to get any better." Nonsense -- we need to lighten up. What we need is tuba and accordion players with smiles on their faces (can anybody smile and play a tuba at the same time?) playing "Roll Out The Barrel," "Happy Days Are Here Again," "Who Stole The Keeshka" and "The Happy Wanderer."

We need to get out of the dumps. We need some smiles and happy music. Now I think I've figured it out: that's what it means if you dream about a sousaphone -- or maybe even an accordion, if one slips into your dreams just before dawn.

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