The stuff that dreams are made of

May 2, 2007

I have never gone surfing, nor do I want to. But this morning I dreamed that I was in a nameless coastal town, running down the sidewalk toward the ocean with a surfboard in my hands.

As I ran, I passed another man running in the same direction and carrying an inner tube.

It was Dean Karnazes.

He was shirtless, of course, but so was I. We were headed for the beach, after all.

I passed him without a word, but I soon grew weary and slowed to a walk, and Dean caught back up. Knowing him to be an accomplished surfer, I asked if he had any advice on how to carry the surfboard so that running with it would be more comfortable and less tiring. He certainly did, and gave me a few pointers in his usual friendly manner. Then we continued down the sidewalk toward the ocean. End of dream.

What’s most interesting to me about this little nocturnal episode is how, despite its apparent randomness, it tied together two things that happened just before I went to bed last night.

Thing #1: I went back to the lab for a late-night check on my bacteria, and I saw two kids skateboarding on the sidewalk by the building where I work.

Thing #2: I read Scott Dunlap’s blog entry about the Big Sur Marathon, which describes an unexpected encounter with Dean while racing along the California coastline.

A “board sport” I know nothing about, a sidewalk, a celebrity runner, and a nearby ocean — all perfectly normal items plucked from my mind to form a ridiculous, incoherent whole.

I don’t know what theories of dreaming are currently in vogue among sleep scientists, but my personal sense of the process is simply that the brain sorts through recent experiences and plays Mad Libs with them.


  1. Oh, man. That's hilarious! Glad I could contribute to the randomness. ;-)I'm working on some interview questions for ya as we speak. Looking forward to it!SD

  2. greg:first of all, ALL the best for Miwok.Secondly: an attempt at oniric coherence.Based on the reading that you are an academic scientist, an athlete runner, a neo-father, no doubt with a full-bodied evolving even-if-not-yet-fully-resolved relationship with creativity, hence dang-right aware – with solid evidence to spare – of REALITY……in the not-so-yet unREAL dream world – knowing fully well in the back in your mind that even if you win Miwok you will not be as known, let alone famous as Dean the celebrity, (hey, its the media baby!) you, PROFESSOR Crowther, are politely (that's why it is coming in the dream) asking yourself:Is the guy for REAL or is he a – albeit successful – pharmaceutical EXPERIMENT?Of course experiments are also REAL, but here – allow me the freedom to define – we mean REAL in terms of Athletics.He recurs in your thoughts. Not just in this dream. The inquiry into the above UNKNOWN is symbolized by the foreign board sport (in the dream,) and the proximity of the bacteria you meticulously take care of (in your waking life.)He has the soft inner tube; you are carrying the rigid surfboard: you almost look the same, both macho-istically shirtless, context is the same, you run faster, but his presence slows you down to a halt. You are struggling. While he has the energy for some friendly advice.He is nice to you, possibly more than you would be to him as some past posts – in REAL life, might suggest.Yet the mild mannered and gentle exchange you have suggests that, due to your scientific identity, if he was an "experiment" you would actually accept him.Would you?As much as you (and who knows how many others) don't accept him as a conventional athlete.What might make any of this plausible, and not just laughable as it stands now, is: just what did he tell you about how to run successfully with a surfboard?That's the riddle: could his experimentation help you do better what you do?Go, Greg, GO!!Famous? I say win.PS. note this post has been written after a full-blown, vicious flu, three-day cycle… Maybe caused by similiar bacteria to the ones you study…

  3. Corrado:I don't think of Dean as an "experiment" — at least not in the pharmaceutical sense. (I can't imagine that he uses steroids, erythropoietin, human growth hormone, etc.) I do accept him as an athlete with a genuine passion and talent for running very long distances. What I don't accept are claims such as the one (made by the January 2007 issue of Outside magazine, but cited approvingly by Dean's website) that he is "America's greatest runner."I can't recall the specific advice he gave about running with the surfboard, except that he suggested gripping the surfboard's handle (rudder?) with one hand while placing the other hand toward the opposite end of the board. It seemed like a pretty brilliant idea at the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: