Other twenty-one-year-olds might be confused and uncertain about the direction of their lives, but not me. I was a seasoned veteran of the Marine Corps. Career and romance were humming smoothly. I was playing with a full deck, knew where I was going and was rowing rhythmically with both oars in the water. I felt I was a cut above my classmates, shaped in a different mold. There was only a faint resemblance between me and my unenlightened, immature peers who were still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other.
Then came the dream that blew my boat out of the water. In the dream I was driving a Cadillac up a steep hill, and the scene seemed more real than reality. At the crest of the hill was a fourteen-room ranch-style house with a panoramic view of the valley below. My name was on the mailbox. Parked in the driveway were a Lincoln and a Porsche. Inside the house Barbara was baking bread and the voices of four kids ranging from eight to eighteen rang out to greet me. I looked in the rearview mirror and decided my white hair needed a trim: I seemed to be between forty-five and fifty years old. As I opened the front door of our house, I noticed the plaque hanging prominently on the wall. It was the Nobel Prize for literature awarded to me.
I awakened from the dream in a cold sweat, shouting, “O God, there’s got to be more!” Am I going to invest the next twenty-five years of my life struggling to achieve fame, success, wealth and happy domesticity—and discover that that is all there is?