Lessons in the Choices we Make from an Unexpected Visitor

In a dream on Wednesday night, I saw my dad for the first time since he died. We didn’t speak or interact. Hell, we didn’t even make eye contact. The bastard must have better things to do with his time now since I’m pretty sure he chose to ignore me.

I woke up the next morning energized, reminded by my dream that every day we have a choice to bring a smile or a laugh or a brief moment of joy into the lives of the people we encounter. And this jolt of perspective arrived for me at just the right time.

Recently, I’ve felt tired, frustrated by the progress I don’t think I’m making on the too many projects I willfully undertook. Patience can be someone else’s virtue, because it isn’t one of mine. I need more time to get more done, and it’s pissing me off that that time isn’t coming.

I’ve felt my energy wane and my focus drift each morning as I wrestle through another 10-minute snooze session that I wake from more lethargic than if I just rose at the alarm’s first buzz. Inspiration is fickle and when you’re strapped into the sidecar of a motorcycle being driven to nowhere by writer’s block, sometimes doing nothing sounds like a better proposition than doing something and finishing with only a pile of written poop.

My motivation is hiding somewhere along with my excitement for work. I can’t seem to find either. Worse, as they’ve slipped further away, my normally upbeat attitude and approach to personal interactions has suffered. Rather than letting life inspire as it unfolds around me, I’ve wanted to put on my blinders and focus instead on fixing my own shortcomings.

Then, Thursday morning smacked me in the face like a pissed-off girlfriend demanding me to wake up. I don’t remember my dreams much, usually the chalkboard of memories is erased completely by the time my eyes open, but I’m grateful that this one stuck.

In the dream, I sat on the back bench of a standard courtroom as some unknown case unfolded before me. The court soon broke for recess, but nobody moved. Through a side entrance, I then saw my dad saunter into the room with another man I didn’t recognize (apparently Dad is making new friends wherever he is these days).

On his walk through the room, Dad stopped at the defense table and chatted with the attorney and his client for a few seconds. An instant later, laughter burst from their mouths. Dad moved on, high-fiving the bemused judge before plopping onto the prosecution team’s waist high desk presently cluttered by their yellow legal pads and white binders. A huddle with the lawyers ensued, followed by more laughs. Dad left through the same door entered earlier—a rascal stirring up trouble where he didn’t belong.


This short dream reminded me that every morning we have the choice for how our day will progress—whether we’re happy or sad, jolly or mad. Anger, frustration, irritability can define us. Or enthusiasm, energy, and fun can propel our actions and conversations.

Yes, I had felt tired and frustrated lately, but that’s no excuse for allowing these feelings to interfere with how I approach my interactions with others or my motivations to work to the goals I might never reach.

As my dream made clear, every moment is a chance to make a difference, and sometimes bringing the gift of laughter really is the best medicine.

A day of excitement, motivation, and positive interactions—the choice is ours to make. And I know the one I’ll be making.



  1. Awesome Kelly! Choose to live a productive life and be happy in it!!! Loved your Dad, Love Your Mom & Love You and Your Sister!!!!! LB

    1. Hi Lori, Thank you for the note. Exactly right. Be happy, be productive, and good things will find you. All the best.

    1. Yes, I concur. I was actually surprised by his arrival in the courtroom. Not really his scene or his style. Must be an evolving personality!

  2. Kelly, growing up with your father and knowing some of the most unique ways of his personality, it is no surprise to me to see you embracing your new adventure, letting us all in on the life lessons you have and will continue to learn, reminding us all of the most important things in life. Thank you for your insight,and willingness to share it!

    1. Hi John, Thank you for following my blog and for your comment – very much appreciated. I’m always willing to share thoughts….just hope there are people willing to listen! Thanks again.

  3. Great story…Great lesson! I started a group called Sandusky County Positive People where we honor seniors in high school that overcome a major obstacle in their lives and turn a negative into a positive. We also hold monthly motivational lunches for us adults, to pump us up and get us through our day…week….month. Like the old saying…surround yourself with good people…and good things will happen. Check us out on FB or our Website…sanduskycountypositivepeople.com. Funny thing about your dream…..I could see your dad doing that!

    1. Thank you for the note, Tom. And thank you for the information regarding Sandusky County Positive People. I was not aware of the organization until just now. Would love to learn more about what you guys are up to. Maybe we can arrange coffee on a Saturday when I am back in town.

      Thanks again for the note! Kelly

  4. Kelly,
    I enjoyed your essay and have thought about it several times over the last few days. While the discretion of a decent man would prevent him from commenting on the dreams of another man in all instances but the most horrific or salacious, I can’t help but query about the role of the trial in the dream and wonder about its potential significance as a certain defined value system and your placement (as a third party spectator). Anyway, keep up the good thoughts.

    1. Mike,
      I really appreciate the thoughtful (incredibly thoughtful) comment. I’ve given much consideration to the significance (or possible significance) of the trial/courtroom in the dream both before and after your note. I agree with your sentiment that it could represent the “defined value system.” I think this is especially possible considering many of my opinions (some expressed on this site or elsewhere and some kept private) about what is or should be held as important, challenging conceived notions of purpose/self-worth, and the struggle to reach goals set by others for us (often subconsciously and notably within the father/son dynamic for me). Sounds like a worthwhile exercise for a future post. If you have additional thoughts on either the trial’s placement in the dream specifically or in general, please send them my way (kelly.lytle@gmail.com for a less public forum).

      Thank you again for the insightful comment. I hope you are doing well and that your dropstep game is still up to par after all these years…


    1. Perhaps he learned the technique from you or another member of the Mayle legal team? I don’t think we can offer him the credit of conjuring such a stunt entirely on his own. Hope all is well for you and please send my best to your family. Thank you for the note.

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