Knowing the Year

(c) Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh. All rights reserved to the creators.

Here is a short bit of morbidity for you. I had a very short dream several nights ago. I was standing in front of a pedestal-type entryway table with a faux leather top. There was a piece of paper on top of it. It was a death certificate. The death certificate was mine. I focused on my name — “Joseph V. Hartlaub” — and the date of death. All that I was able to read was the year: 2030. I then woke up.

I mentioned the dream to my wife the following morning. She said, “Well, you have thirteen years to prove the dream wrong.” My response was, “True. But that could work either way.”

The dream has been weighing heavily on my mind since that time. I’ve sharpened up my bucket list, stepped up my writing game, and considered asking David Levien to fix me up with Maggie Siff (I’m just kidding about that last one. Heh. Heh.). I’m thinking all along, however, that I could accept knowing to a reasonable degree of certainty at this point that I have thirteen more years to hang around. As I sit here right now I’m sixty-five, in good health, have twenty-six years of sobriety, and possess all of my mental faculties. I hope that’s true in thirteen years. It probably won’t be. It might be time to go.

I’m wondering, however, if EVERYONE has dreams like this and doesn’t talk about it. Have you ever had a dream like this, which gave you a date certain for your departure from this side of the veil? Do you want to know? And if you had a dream like this, and took it seriously, what would you want to accomplish in the interim with regard to your life, your relationships, and yes, your writing?


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About Joe Hartlaub

Joe Hartlaub is an attorney, author, actor and book and music reviewer. Joe is a Fox News contributor on book publishing industry and publishing law and has participated on several panels dealing with book, film, and music business law. He lives with his family in Westerville, Ohio.

30 thoughts on “Knowing the Year

  1. I went on a website where you enter age, weight, height, eating, drinking, smoking habits and other quality of life issues.

    After entering information, I was told I was supposed to be dead 15 years ago.

    • LM, I’m glad you’re still with us. I’ve done those quizzes myself. The best ones, I’m told, factor heredity into account.

      A doctor once told me that the three things that kill a person are smoking, drinking, and obesity: you can do one of them without fear as long as it’s not smoking. Speaking of which…

  2. Good morning Joe,

    Well, I’m glad you’re still with us. And maybe that date included the time, and that time was military time, 2030 being 8:30 pm, and we still don’t know the year.

    Seriously, I had a close call with cancer a few years back, and that is truly a wakeup call. And as to life, relationships, and writing: I know I need to retire from my job, which has turned me into a slave. I plan to spend more time with my wife and grandchildren. And I’ve shifted my writing to children’s stories, for my grandchildren, what I want to do, even if they don’t sell.

    And I also need to find a time to meet with a certain writer friend (from Columbus) and his wife to go out to lunch.

    I hope you can reenter that dream and grin at father time, as you correct that death certificate to 2052, then wink at him and tell him that you’ll be back to adjust as necessary.

    Thanks for making us think about the important things.

    • Good morning, Steve. Thanks for the good wishes. I have no idea how you are able to continue in solo family medical practice in this day and age when hospitals and insurance companies drag you ever closer to consolidation with other practices. I would imagine that when you pull the plug on your practice your patients will lay down in front of your door to keep you from leaving. Thanks for the reminder of what is important.

  3. I haven’t had dreams about my own death, but I have had a few-and I emphasize, a few, because I don’t want to exaggerate-dreams that pretty clearly foretold my future.
    One in particular that stands out was having my shoulder lovingly rubbed, in a dream, by a nameless faceless, woman. I recall awakening with a warm feeling, wondering what that was all about. Four or five days later I was called into work, late one night, to fix a computer problem. In the midst of fixing the problem, one of the computer operators, a woman I had an attraction to, came over, and from behind, lovingly rubbed the same shoulder, EXACTLY as it had transpired in the dream. I recall stopping in my tracks on the way home, after fixing the problem, stunned by the realization of what had just happened. Some will call that a coincidence-but I don’t know. Maybe you had to be there, but I’m telling you, the whole event played out exactly as I had dreamt it, right down to the feel of her fingertips, massaging my right shoulder.

  4. Edward, thanks for visiting and sharing that occurrence with us. I’m surprised that you were able to fix the problem without downloading…um, never mind.

    While you were fixing the problem, did you write some sort of code to make the same problem happen every week at the same time? That’s what I would have done. Of course, it would have been wrong.

  5. A week ago I was released from the hospital after a week long congestive heart failure episode. The treatment was complicated by the fact that my kidneys were damaged during open heart surgery a few years ago. My cardiologist set my wife and I up with a palliative care team. That was a wake-up call, let me tell you. The doctors basically said I don’t have too many more episodes like this left in me, and we should be making decisions accordingly.

    So while they didn’t give me a year, they assured me that I could have from a few months to a few years, depending on my life style choices.

    That put my writing in a different light. I have stories to tell and less and less time to write them. I assure you I am now writing to a quota every day and no longer wasting time waiting for a muse.

    • David, I’m…at a loss. I’m so sorry that you’re having these problems. I send my prayers and I know that my fellow TKZers send their thoughts and prayers as well. Thank you for letting us know the importance of getting things done now. God Bless.

  6. I’ve never dreamed like that. If I did, I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing right now. At the end of last year, I finally unloaded the job from hell. It literally ran me into the ground, and I had to drive so many miles back & forth TO this job to be tortured that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. Needless to say, there had been no writing or even going to hike anywhere cuz I was just sick of traffic and people and cars.

    I now have a job much closer to home, much better employer. Little by little I am turning my life right side up again. I am preparing to move apartments & in the new apartment, I am fixing it so I have specific, creative spaces prepped & ready to go to and work. By that I mean, right now, I have to move a bunch of stuff to get access to the painting supplies, the banjo, etc. In the move I’m fixing it so that those things are set up where I can get at them easily and use them more frequently, even if I have to get rid of other kinds of furniture to do so.

    And I am just now getting to the point where I’m willing to drive on weekends and go to local hiking areas. There’s still so much of my beautiful Arizona I haven’t seen yet.

    Add to that impetus the real nightmare: I come from a family of 7. I’ve lost 4 of them in 11 short years (little brother, older brother, father, mother in that order) so there’s only 3 of us left. It definitely makes you feel like you have a target on your back, wondering who’s going next in a few years (or less).

    That’s not meant to be gloom & doom. It’s just reality of life. I want to exercise my creative muscles to the max while I can and I want to see this beautiful country we’ve been given. Life is so very interesting to explore. I’m an avid learner. I can’t learn it all but I want to miss as little of it as possible. 😎

    • BK, thank you so much for this account, which is full of the ups and downs which life brings, sometimes simultaneously. Your last sentence is especially telling. We can’t do it all, but sometimes doing some of it is enough. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I think it’s possible it’s true but then again, it may be warning you to change something in your life. I’ve never had dreams like this for myself, but I did dream about my father dying three days in a row before it actually happened. So, yeah, these kinds of things I take seriously.

    • Traci, that’s all very true. I may be getting a wake-up call from one part of my consciousness to another. Good point. Thanks for bringing that up and for sharing.

  8. Joe, my great-great-grandfather was the last Sun Dance priest of our tribe though he was not an ethnic Kiowa. He told the tribe and the leaders to stop the Sun Dance because it threw the young men into frenzies. So many of them were killed in clashes with the army within days after the dances. So far, though there are activists who would like to reinstitute the dance, the tribal elders have never done so.

    Some years after the Dance ended, he became a Christian because he came to understand that, in his Kiowa religion, he would never be reunited with my great-grandfather, our tribe’s first ordained Christian minister. My great-grandfather died in the great world-wide influenza epidemic of 1918.

    Mokeen, my great-great-grandfather, lived to be, we think, 100 years old. After the Sun Dance ended, his greatest achievements were singing, visiting, drinking the cold water from Odle-paugh’s spring, and cutting up the meat for the children at dinner time so they wouldn’t choke.

    Perhaps his greatest achievement in life was taking care of the children.

    • Jim, thanks so much for sharing that fascinating story. Especially that last sentence. I think that’s really all it comes down to, doesn’t it…taking care of the children. There’s no higher calling. Thanks again as always for stopping by and sharing.

  9. I worry when I hear so many stories from people who remember their dreams, because I don’t. As a child and through my teen years, I had many dreams, some recurring ones that likely have some deep psychological meaning, and one about my father dying when my crying woke me up. Fortunately, my dad died many years later at 87.

    As an adult, however, no memories of my dreams. I read an article many years ago in Forbes Magazine (I think) that talked about CEOs not remembering their dreams either. Perhaps I’ve missed my calling.

    Organizing our lives so that we’re living in ways consistent with our true values makes us happier campers, whether or not we think about when our lives might end.

    Thanks for an important reminder.

    • Sheryl, you’re welcome and thank you for sharing your experiences as well as your observation about organization. In my case, it means I have to do more than rearrange piles! Thanks again.

  10. I’ve never had a dream like that and don’t want to. I don’t think we’re supposed to know how much longer we’ll live. I had a friend once who was told by a fortuneteller she’d die when she stopped learning. She kept going back to school as she took it literally and it had a negative effect on her health. I thought to myself, “We never stop learning so it doesn’t mean a thing. It’s true of everyone. We used to visit my mother at a nursing home as she had Alzheimer’s. I don’t think I want to live to close to 100. —- Suzanne

    • patriciaruthsusan, I agree. I have a friend in a rehab center who probably will not be leaving it and I do not want to go out like that. Same with Alzheimers…I have a fifty percent chance, given that it runs through my Dad’s side of the family like the Mississippi River. No way.

  11. I have never had a dream like that, and I have wild and vivid dreams.

    Many of my dreams involve travel. You should see the airports in my dreams. They frequently have overpasses, and occasionally tunnels, that the jets have to thread through. Those takeoffs and landings are exciting. Cities, including cities I’ve been to, are nothing like the real places. My Budapest at sunrise is a shimmering gold, reflecting not off the Danube, but more of an Instanbul-like amount of water in the middle. It’s amazing. Let’s not get started on Paris.

    A few weeks back I attended the Oscars with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Seriously. We were dressed to the nines. Later we went back to her hotel room at the Ritz-Carlton. It was this beautiful black-and-white themed room. The floral patterned carpet was gorgeous. I was quite impressed. Let me tell you, a hotel room like this would be $pendy.

    The chances of my being caught dead in any place on earth with either of those two, let alone both, is somewhat less than my holding up my winning Powerball ticket while being struck by lightning. I laughed when I woke up. So, don’t take your dream too seriously. It’s probably about as likely to happen as mine.

    • Well, Catfriend, I wouldn’t mind a locale dream like that involving New Orleans. i do have recurring dreams involving a dystopian city that bears a faint resemblance to Akron, Ohio. Not quite the same thing. Thank you for sharing!

    • TKZers of all stripes…please check out the poem at the end of the link which Eric has generously provided to us. It’s short and utilizes an economy of language but puts the reader right in the seat. I’m not sure how he does it but he did it well. Eric…thank you for sharing your story and your work.

  12. You are not leaving us in 2030 or anywhere close to that date. Your multifaceted
    personality and knowledge is way too important for you to be taken away from those of us who love you and still have so much to learn from your experiences. That would be a cruel joke from a higher Being.😌

  13. Pingback: Writing Links 4/10/17 – Where Genres Collide

  14. I never had a dream about my own death and I wouldn’t take your dream too seriously. I have had crazy dreams but who hasn’t.
    I do know as my age numbers get higher I become more introspective, cherish my friendships and family more than before knowing the higher the numbers get the less time I have:)
    But I believe each day is a gift and we need to unwrap it and glory in its contents.

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