From a distance, the sound of applause grew louder
as he began to rouse himself from what seemed
like a long, complex, and ambivalent dream.
Opening his eyes, he realized he was surrounded
by a large group of people milling about, smiling
and apparently congratulating him, but for what?
Their faces looked familiar, as if he had known them all
somewhere, at sometime, but he couldn’t yet place them
in his memory, although they obviously knew him.
Gradually events started re-surfacing — in quick flashes
he remembered vague scenes from the previous dream —
he was an old man, lying in a hospital bed somewhere,
his breathing was labored, he clutched at his chest.
Now all of that was swiftly fading, just as dreams do.
He was vividly awake, more awake then he’d ever felt
before, and in fact he was positively joyous, bathing
in the loving praise being showered upon him.
The welcoming crowd acted as if he’d accomplished
some great deed, honoring him like a returning hero,
yet what deed had warranted such accolades?
“What did I do to deserve such a festive celebration?”
he finally blurted out, but how could he have been
prepared for the shocking answer which followed?
“Well, you’ve just lived a rare life as a human being”
they replied, “and now we want to hear everything
you can tell us about your virtual adventure!”
Bewildered once more, he gazed around,
wondering aloud, “Am I dead?”
“No,” they all laughed, “though it must seem like that,
having identified so thoroughly with your chosen role.
Take your time until you realize again beyond a doubt
that you’re right at home, you’ve never been more alive!”