Dream of: 15 November 1995 "Walking Backwards"

I was thinking I would like to start exercising more, perhaps spending as much as a couple hours a day exercising. I might even take up a sport. I wondered what would happen if I were to practice baseball for two hours every day. If I were to just work on throwing a baseball for two hours a day, I would have to become pretty good at it.

I was standing in the back yard of a house where Carolina and I were living, and I thought Carolina was somewhere nearby. The back yard had a particularly pleasant feel to it. It was basically in the shape of a rectangle perhaps 20 by 30 meters in size, and was completely surrounded by a splendid stone wall which rose well over my head. Next to the wall, all along the inside perimeter, was a flat, walkway which appeared to be made of pale limestone.

The area felt secluded and private, a place where I might be able to do things that wouldn't be acceptable in public. This would be a good place for me to exercise, and a thought popped into my mind what I could do: I could practice walking backwards. I knew it was difficult to walk backwards outside on the sidewalk because so many people were there. But here in the seclusion of my own back yard – with the lovely stone walkway – I could practice at my leisure.

I began. I started walking backwards down one long side of the walkway. It was quite difficult. I tended to veer to the right and once I even banged into the wall and scrapped the knuckles on my hand. But the worst problem came at the corners, where the walkway wasn't a simple "L" shape, but was designed in intricate patterns with flowers planted along the edges. At the first corner I came to I was unable to follow the twisted pattern, and was afraid I was going to trample all the pretty flowers along the edge. I had to stop and turn around.

Carolina walked up with a smile on her face. She had a question for me about a United States Supreme Court Justice – a certain justice Stevens. In her hand she was holding a group picture of nine supreme court justices and she wanted to know which one was Stevens. Apparently justice Stevens had recently died and the picture had been taken before his death.

I recalled that I had once made a collage which I particularly liked, and on the collage I had included a picture of the current members of the Supreme Court, and that justice Stevens had been one of the members. I just happened to have that particular collage nearby and I pulled it out, proudly telling Carolina this was the method I used for identifying members of the Supreme Court. Looking at the picture on the collage, I saw a white-haired man whom I identified as justice Stevens and I pointed him out to Carolina. But then I had second thoughts, for I wasn't sure the man I had pointed out was actually justice Stevens. I turned and looked at the picture which Carolina had brought out. I was surprised to see that her picture had many more faces than just the nine justices. Perhaps 20-30 other people, apparently members of the staff who worked for the justices, were also included in the picture. I knew these pictures were taken every year by the Supreme Court, and I thought that apparently as many people as possible wanted to get into them. A couple people standing in the top row of the picture even had their backs turned to the camera, as if they were talking to someone behind them. It was so confusing to see so many people on the picture that I couldn't be sure which one was justice Stevens.

Putting the pictures aside, Carolina brought up another subject. She said she had read a newspaper article concerning robberies and a new method to prevent robberies. It had been discovered that if laws were passed which prevented people from parking on the streets, the number of robberies in the area decreased by as much as seventy percent.

That seemed rather interesting to me. It made sense that robberies would decrease if people couldn't park their cars on the street. But was that wise? Wouldn't such restrictions be too burdensome? The phrase "societal restrictions" came to my mind, and I thought more of the word "societal." That wasn't a word I normally used, and in fact I didn't recall every having used the word. I mulled the word over in my mind, trying to think of phrases or sentences in which I could use the word. I knew I had recently been employing this technique with many words. I had discovered that although I had a wide reading vocabulary, I had a limited vocabulary of words which I actually used. By taking a word – such as "societal" – and using it in my head until I had a better feel of it, I was able to incorporate new words into my working vocabulary.

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