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One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is titled “The Inner Light.” An energy beam from a space probe strikes Captain Picard, making him unconscious. Somehow the Captain finds himself on the planet Kataan. He lives a lifetime in this other world and then the episode ends again on the Starship Enterprise. My three-sentence description offers a slight sampling of this episode, which won a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

The Other Universe remains a wonderful part of fantasy and science fiction. For example: Stephen King’s 11/22/63 explores time shifts and changing the sequence of events leading to the assassination of John Kennedy. Don’t we all visit those other universes? Can we go back in the past and make a difference? Will our actions change the timeline or sequence of events?

I have been sick. Feverish. Waking to return to sleep to wake to sleep to a semi-sleep to wake to sleep.

During one sleep-rough awareness interlude, I relived a day from adolescence. One element in that dream sequence differed from the lived reality and then the dream continued in a logical sequence concerning the direction of my life after that one changed event. Instead of academic work beyond high school and the work experiences I have had, I never left my hometown. That alternate life was stable and somewhat monotonous, quite unlike reality. As I became more fully awake, I became aware of a deeper sense of gratitude for life’s real experiences, which appear in my book Three Prayers You’ll Want to Pray.

Maybe that dream offered the inner light gift of gratitude.