At least Christopher Walken‘s Dwayne, the brother of Diane Keaton‘s Annie Hall in Woody Allen‘s same titled film, was polite about it. Before sharing his shattered glass, car-crash death fantasy, he asked Alvy Singer, the stand-up comedian played by Allen, if he could confess something. By sitting down Alvy was saying “sure, Dwayne…shoot.”

If I’d been Alvy I wouldn’t have said “excuse me, Dwayne, but I have to be back on planet earth.” I would have said that I’ve also channeled a few brief death fantasies, and they’re not that big of a deal (or they don’t need to be that big of a deal) because they’re mainly about feelings of drifting and helplessness and career panic.

These feelings fester inside lots of young guys, i would have said, and especially those who are feeling pressured by society or parents or their own sense of guilt to get out there and achieve something. It’s just a signal, Dwayne, that you need to face whatever your challenge may be head-on. Life can be terrifying, but it’s even worse if you don’t man up and do something about what’s rattling you.

In short, Dwayne, you need to move out of your parents’ home and start fending for yourself. You need to start wrestling with the rough-and-tumble of life rather than hiding behind secure walls.

In my mid 20s I twice experienced a death dream that wasn’t too different from Dwayne’s. I was inside a commercial jet that had lost power, and it was tumbling downward through the clouds, going faster and faster. I could hear the fuselage skeleton groaning and cracking as the plane fell. I was a dead man. A flaming inferno death was only 25 or 30 seconds away, if that. And then I’d wake up.