What Side Are You On

Man, that was some dream. I’m walking down the street with my Uncle Fred. As we passed by a newspaper stand, I could see the year was 1921. A newspaper headline read Yankees Win World Series! I could tell it was night in the city, but there was so much life. Hustle and bustle everywhere. Store fronts wide open displaying vegetables, fruits, clothing, jewelry, you name it.

The weird thing was that we seemed to be gliding through the crowd in a protective bubble. People would move aside as we approached, without acknowledging our presence. There was no jostling. It was like we were invisible. There were no street sounds. I could see people conversing but could not hear a word. The only thing I could hear was my uncle’s voice…

My Uncle Fred would have been 28 in 1921. As a teenager I would remember him holding court around our dinner table talking about his adventures in New York City as a young man. It was this 75-year-old version of Uncle Fred that would serve as my dream guide. Man, it was great to hear that voice again.

Its, funny, I wasn’t the least bit surprised at seeing him even though he passed away in 1981. The first words out of my mouth were, “Uncle Fred, where are we going?”

“You really don’t know do you?”, he said. His eyes sparkled and I could tell I was about to get schooled by the master himself.

“No, I really don’t”, I shrugged. At that moment everything and everybody stopped, froze, like a game of red-light-green-light. Even the street lights stopped flickering. I knew some real shit was about to get handed down.

My Uncle Fred’s eyes began to glow, shedding a bright white light. He drew closer to me, put his hand on my shoulder and whispered, “What side are you on?”

I took a deep breath, which seemed like an eternity. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. My uncle looked at me smiling. I could tell that he knew I was confused. I could also tell that he knew that I knew that he knew I was confused. Oh brother, I thought…

With both hands on my shoulders, my uncle said, “Relax my son”. His eyes glowing even brighter now. “The forces of light have been fighting the forces of fear for thousands of years. What side are you on?”

“The forces of light!”, I shouted. At that moment, the city was alive again with movement. But the colors were brighter, the images were sharper, and I could hear all the sounds of life. I could smell all the smells of life too… It was like I was reborn.

My uncle seemed pleased. He said, “Right answer my son, but do you know why?”

“I don’t know uncle. There is so much hate in the world right now. People are dying from a pandemic. People are out of work, struggling to survive. There’s a lot of fear out there. I feel it too. I’m guessing light can only help”.

“That’s right. I brought you here to show you what life was like in New York City just three years after our 1918 pandemic. We lost 30,000 souls in our city alone. Do you see and feel the energy? Believe in life. Accept whatever comes. Believe in love and always follow the light…. and just so you don’t forget, let me remind you of where fear will take you.”

All of a sudden, the street is deserted and there is no sign of life.

I am alone.  

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