Last night the school bus came back. It’s been 10 years since it showed up in my dreams, and I was very much in need of a visit.
It was daytime, but there was no sunlight. The sun never shines in my dreams. I was alone, of course, walking through a city, away from a mushroom cloud. My pace was steady: despite the destruction around me, I never broke stride. But I kept turning around to look at the cloud: it was so big it didn’t appear to be moving at all. The cloud had been there, taking up most of the horizon, for hours. All the other people on the busy street were transfixed, unable to break their collective gaze. But I forced myself to look in the opposite direction, where I was heading.
I made my way steadily through chaotic city streets filled with confused and injured people. Things were on fire. I had no fear, no sense of loss, nothing…I was just walking away. Then, a few blocks ahead of me, I watched as a large airplane flying way too low lose power, bank sharply, and crash down into a high-rise building and then onto the street . More flames, more chaos. Everything was dying. I kept walking.
I was walking through the plane’s wrecked carcass, observing the dead and injured, but not stopping, not talking. I got to the intersection of the next block, and that’s when the school bus pulled up.
The school bus first showed up in my dreams when I was 5 years old. It pulled up every night for a week. The driver is always different, as is the passenger, who is always sitting in the very back row, on the left, by the window. Otherwise the bus is empty. I never pay a fare, nor am I ever waiting for the bus. It just pulls up and the door opens. I step in, the driver, whomever it is, smiles and nods, and I make my way to the back, sit next to the passenger, and listen. Sometimes the passenger asks questions, but usually he just talks. When I was 5, I didn’t know who the driver or passenger were. I guess the same was true when I was 10. But after that I have always recognized both of them at each visit. The school bus shows up in my dreams every 7 years or so, and it is always a good thing.
In last night’s oneiric visitation, the bus pulled up, the door opened, and Jim Morrison was driving the bus. He was wearing aviator sunglasses, smiling hugely, and chewing gum. I climbed on board, and the Lizard King closed the door behind me and began driving the bus through this war zone of a city. I found it odd that there is no music playing as I made my way to the back. As usual, the bus was empty save for one passenger in the very back row, on the far left side, by the window. It’s an old bearded man, staring out the window darkly. It’s William Blake.
To understand what a big deal this is, there are a few things you need to know about William Blake. He claimed every one of his paintings were merely copied from divine visions, and that his poems were dictated directly to him by angels. When he was 4 years old, he claimed that God looked through his bedroom window at him, making him scream for the rest of the day. When he was 10, he saw a tree filled with angels, and was blinded by the glistening of their wings . Later in life, he claimed to have breakfast with the archangel Gabriel every Tuesday morning. So when William Blake shows up in your dreams, in a bus driven my Jim Morrison, brace yourself. Which is what I did.
We drove on through the chaos and din, and he just stared out the window for what seemed like hours. Finally, without looking at me, he said, “You’re not doing your job.” Which is about the worst thing he could have said, I think. He continues. “This,” he gestures at everything outside, “…all of this, is your fault.” He finally turned and looked at me, and his gaze was not something that is good or comfortable. It burned.
“Write this down,” he commanded. Suddenly there was a pen and paper in my hands. He dictated slowly: “The fundamental cause of our dysfunctional and corrupt civilization is a basic failure of imagination…an inability to conceive nature and society other than as they now appear.”
“Amen, brother,” I said, not meaning to speak. “I’ve been saying that for decades.”
There was violent lightning outside the bus, and thunder inside, as he yelled: “No, you haven’t! You’ve been thinking it, but you haven’t said shit!” Then he backhanded me in the mouth. I remember thinking, “I’ve just been bitch slapped by William Blake.”
He then resumed looking at the window. Without looking at me again, he said, “Tell them. Show them. Make them see.” He said it again. “Tell them. Show them. Make them see.” He began to repeat it, almost chanting, like a mantra. The bus then shuddered to a stop. Mr. Mojo Risin’ opened the door. I stood and walked to the front of the bus. I wanted to ask Jim for an autograph or something, but he waved me off. “Hurry up…do what he says. It will be your turn to drive the bus soon.”