On Wednesday night, I had a very strange dream about my old mentor, Alan Dundes, a man who had a tremendous influence on my life and the shaping of my education. I had been a piss-poor student when I took his class at Cal — by the end of it, the fires of academe had been lit under me, and I turned my whole life around. I took more and more folklore classes and eventually went on to try and get my graduate degree in folklore. Alan Dundes was an inspiration to me. Not everyone agreed with his ideas, but to me, he was a mentor and a friend.
Wednesday night, or I should say morning, for night came at the end of a 6 hour drive, I dreamed that I was in the long hallway at Kroeber, and I went up to Professor Dundes' office to see him, like I had so many times before. He asked me what I was doing and I had to tell him. He was very disappointed and scolded me a little. I told him I'd gotten this job down in LA, but that I had quit it abruptly and was coming to work at Berkeley, like I had always wanted. He scolded me some more, then relented, and gave me a big bear hug, and we talked a bit about this new dream-job and the guilt I had at quitting my LA-job so abruptly.
I told some people about the dream yesterday. "Are you going to go see him while you're up home?" one asked, "You haven't gone to see him in a while." "No," I said, "He'll just be very disappointed in me for real, like he was in the dream." But, I always did love coming to see him and today, as I walked to the MUNI on my way home from my dentist appointment, I thought about maybe going over to Berkeley after all, or at least calling.
I got home, opened my computer for the first time since Wednesday, and saw a flurry of emails and I went on Yahoo News and my old mentor, Alan Dundes, died on Wednesday
. He died doing what he loved, teaching. One time, we were talking and he told me: "The secret to happiness is to find something that you love doing and do it, and find someone to share it with." Alan Dundes had both.
The dream scares me. I am so sad right now. I will miss his wisdom. I am so ashamed I was too much of a wimp to go and see him. I'm so sorry.