Saturday, December 08, 2012

from the landscape of dreams

I have recurring dreams in which I am wandering a city, a beautiful city with strange, twisting alleys and cobblestone streets. There are arched doorways and richly cluttered shops where I often meet people I know in this dreamworld, the magician with ice blue eyes, the old woman who often crowns her soft white hair with a wreath of red berries, a little dark haired child who is my daughter, lost long ago but here restored to me.

The landscape of this realm includes the sea, edging the rocky shore, and a river flowing between meadows. Across one of these meadows there is a white stone monastery. I never go there, but watch, sometimes, as the people come out and perform ceremonies. Once in a while I am part of a procession, as it moves through the town. There are flowers. Sometimes I walk beside a lion, in the thin winter sunlight.

In the shops I look through shelves and trays, looking for treasures. The blue eyed man has special things to show me, and has shown me these since I was three years old. Then I thought if I held tightly to the treasures I would have them when I woke. But my clenched hands were always empty—no blue crystals, no little carved stones looking like horses, no golden birds.

These days in that dream place I am often with some of my waking-life family (alive or dead) and friends (also living or dead—in that place everyone is alive, and we meet sometimes with a bit of confusion: Oh, I thought…but here you are! And we smile a lot).

But sometimes we are trying to cross that bridge, that wooden bridge that spans..sometimes a river, sometimes a space from one building to another, so high up..or we are trying to climb a hill to safety, scratching our skin on the rough granite. The city has turned precarious.

Sometimes I look and think “oh no, where is…?” For someone is missing, and I should have been paying more attention. Those are nightmares of responsibility, from which I am glad to awaken. They are dreams in which I think “oh no, what I have loved, those I have loved…I haven’t kept them safe”. I wake in tears and in relief, and listen to the breathing around me—my son, my partner, the cats, the snuffling and restless pitbull. It was only a dream. Oh, thank god, it was only a dream, no worries.

But these days, waking, something nibbles at the edges of my mind. Disasters, storms, changes, deaths. It has been an autumn of sudden deaths. Some I loved are…suddenly, elsewhere. It’s not new to me, this sense of fragility, or the litany of the dead. I often recall my friend, dead at 21, who burst into my dreams on the night he died and faced me laughing. “Oh, wasn’t it the most brilliant joke?” he said to me, impish, impossible, dramatic. How we laughed. I was..24 or 25, and when I woke I cried. But he would have liked me better laughing.

Waking these days it feels as if perhaps I am trying to cross that bridge of my beautiful dream city, where the ground is moving and all is complication, unknown languages, splendor and love.

I turn around and someone else is gone.

I turn around and someone is calling out, wounded by grief.

And yet…well, perhaps it is a brilliant joke. So what do we do with this, our lovely complicated life? I think we pay attention. I think we try to love one another, laugh with each other, be ridiculous, embrace our sorrows but more, embrace our delights.

I think we look at every rainbow and delight in every silly thing. And sure, let’s…well, let’s not save the world, let’s treasure the world, let’s cherish it.

Each breath, each moment, each choice.