I had one of those dreams last night.

It was one of those dreams that none of us really enjoys: full of remorse and questions about a course of action that is lost to history and can’t be changed.

I dreamed of my last days in the United States Navy. It was partly that “I’m naked in high school” dream that everyone suffers from at times, because I was in trouble and didn’t have a complete uniform to wear. (Confession: I went the last year of my service without updating some of the awards I’d been authorized to wear because I was too lazy and cheap to take the uniforms to the tailor and get them done.) More importantly (to me) it was a reflection time in my slumber of some of the circumstances surrounding my last few months in the service.

I don’t think there’s a veteran around who left the service after one enlistment who doesn’t  ponder “what if?” from time to time. This was deeper: it allowed me to examine parts of my personal life that had little to do with the military and more to do with my marriage and my goals in life.

Those same issues still haunt me today. “Haunt” in the sense that they’re unresolved over twenty years later. In my dream I realized that some warning signs of impending issues were there and I just completely missed them through my focus on other things. I could have seen the train coming: the tracks were already laid. But I was looking at the Dairy Queen across the tracks and missed the ominous rumbling that should have served as a warning.

I can’t go back and change any of the things that happened. I can’t sign up for a second enlistment (and it would likely have been a mistake to have done so.) But I can take the things I learned in that dream and use them going forward. Pretty good deal for something that happened in my sleep.

What things in your past did you miss but should have seen?  What things about your future are you ignoring now? And how will you change your ways to avoid tragedy?

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