Spring dreams reverberate with the call of the fox and the cry of the hawk and the song of the peepers…
Dreams of a barren desert landscape, and in the distance—twin shimmering cities.
Dreams of a hollowed out tree, out of which revolves the full and attentive face of an owl.
Dreams of being handed a thousand dollars, (cash wrapped in lined paper) in the hallway of the highschool, outside the science labs, with the promise of monthly patronage that leaves me weak in the knees with humility and relief.
Dreams of two handheld mirrors, lying on a surface, side by side.
I went to sleep with an uncomfortable effervescence in my chest, checking to see, should this be my last, had I any regrets. Just one: The neglect of joy.
I went to sleep to the sensual delight of an open window after so many weeks shut to the cold (after so many months soaking up the pleasures of scent & sound.)
I woke to a dream about the election and looked over at the clock to see a series of 1’s, but not four or three, but a stream…
I lifted my head to inquire further and realized that the red glow of the digital was reflecting off the headboard behind my husband’s head. IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
There I was in the center of a stage, seeing my feeling state reflected back by an amphitheater of fans.
There was FEAR, huddled together, down low, dressed in black cloaked garments.
I was surprised to find myself waving at FEAR, and soothed by my own connection and compassion.
Above the dark mass, there was HOPE, fanning out and filling the stands, waving banners and cheering enthusiastically.
My spirits lifted higher. I smiled and waved at HOPE too, realizing they clearly outnumbered their brethren below.
As I drifted back to sleep,other feeling states on a series of more alarming topics–national, global, personal–were reflected by the crowd.
There were the darkly dressed, huddled ones, who never grew much in size and simply desired connection and safety; and above them, in the stands, the crowd that dwindled with each ensuing topic, until there were only one or two remaining, who weakly waved flags.
It occurred to me then, it’s not that we must rid ourselves (or this nation) of FEAR, nor dismiss or ridicule it, but instead pack the stands with HOPE.
Other marginalized groups.
International leadership, learning & listening.
Protected natural spaces.
Diversity of species.
The last time I was drunk was St. Paddy’s Day, 1986.
And no, I’m not an alcoholic. Or a teetotaler.
I still like my Chardonnay and my Margaritas…
But I used to like to get smashed.
I grew up, I guess. I crossed the line a few too many times in my early twenties, and drunkenness started to feel ugly and sad instead of fun.
That partying lifestyle is a hard one to sustain. Especially when you’re happy. Being hungover feels like crap.
Leaving the bar & restaurant world made it easier to let it go. So did becoming a teacher and a mother. Neither of those roles is very compatible with drunkenness.
Do I miss it?
Sometimes I do. But mostly I’m surprised that it’s still going on. (Without me 🙂
I guess there’s a lot of pain to medicate. At least that’s what I was doing. I drank to wash away feelings of not being enough. I drowned out anger and confusion. I hid from disillusionment.
When I was drinking, all that pain disappeared; and I got to catch my breath. Only the break never lasted; but the mistakes did.
Both my grandmothers and mother were alcoholics, and somehow I didn’t inherit their propensity for that disheartening disease; but I gave it a good effort–with nearly a decade of dedication.
I still got good grades, had goals, and met them; But I missed out on a lot. Like the day after St. Paddy’s Day, 1986, when my sweetheart and I were meant to be in Wyoming. It was a dream of his to see that great state, and it was the first time that the two of us had the opportunity to get out of town together. We were living in Steamboat Springs then, Colorado, working our butts off at the Mountain, and we were thrilled to have 3 days off in a row, together, to finally explore more of the West (before we headed back to the Atlantic.)
Instead, we spent that big adventure in bed, with one of the worst hangovers either of us has ever had. We fought over the last Ibuprofen and shook our heads at the pile of our mud-laden clothes on the floor. Later friends told us that we had been seen wrestling up the hill on our way home from the bar.
We still laugh at that story, and I tell it too much–maybe to point out that there is life after drinking–even though it seems like the most fun in the world when you don’t know what else you’re missing.
Now I define fun differently. Now it’s about creating more of what I want in my life, instead of running from what I’m afraid of.
And when I have pain, I like to “check IN” instead of “check OUT.” Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes, I’d rather watch Netflix or check Facebook; but what I’ve learned, again and again, is that there’s gold to be mined in my discomfort if I just show up: Pain is transformed. Memories heal. Disillusionment is replaced with new, vibrant visions. Dreams come true. And I begin to like myself just the way I am. I cut myself a goddamn break; and I don’t even have to be drunk to do it.
“Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been.” (Tut.com)
I fall asleep in sweet surrender–despite the fear that my life could be dramatically altered in the morning.
When thoughts of inadequacy appear, something revolutionary occurs. Rather than attempt to chase my fears away or figure them out, I simply surrender them.
I find myself turning them over to whomever it is who cares for me–the ancestors, the angels, the common consciousness.
Instead of finding fault with myself for either being inadequate or feeling it, I allow it. I soften into it. And I fall asleep, dreaming of women. Marrying them.
These dreams have recurred of late–which my husband blames on the episodes of The L Word, a series that I incessantly consumed while sick. (Beware of Netflix streaming!) Given my obvious sexual preferences however, we both know that there is something more going on.
I am softening.
After a lifetime relying on the strong masculine aspects of my particular makeup, I have allowed myself to be vulnerable.
It was her kindness or curiosity or mirroring slip of sanity which set this into motion. On this particular day, I was faced with refusing or accepting a new position, and I was deeply conflicted. My mind said that it was a mighty fine fit. My insides had something else to say.
Given my family’s financial needs and how long it was taking me to find “aligned” work, I was about tip the scale toward practicalities. In a last ditch effort to stay true to myself, I scouted the classifieds, and found hers. I sent out a quick email, requesting a full job description, to which she promptly followed up: “Let me know if you’re still interested.”
Her response took me by surprise. I had expected the standard, “Please send your resume, cover letter and three references if you’re interested,” and given the discernment facing me on this day, I didn’t have the energy for that.
After reading the very long and thorough job description, I replied that I LOVED the organization, but found the responsibilities “scary.” I wished her luck filling the position and thanked her for the ease of our exchange.
Once again, I was taken aback by her quick and easy reply. “What about it scares you?”
Amused, I delved deeper into the requirements to answer that question for myself; and in the process discovered that I had done pretty much all of what was asked in some way or another.
Inspired by our playful volley of emails, I took a risk and sent her a full response: highlighting my experience and interests–and even going so far as to candidly share where I would be challenged and where I would be bored. I had nothing to loose.
Her reply was dismaying. She needed to get back to me later in the day because she had some work to finish.
Now, I wasn’t sure what to do. Do I let go of the sure thing (the job that was on the table) for something that was a big maybe? Do I tell her that I had something on the line? Hadn’t I already trespassed her kindness?
In an act of even greater vulnerability, I apologized for taking advantage of the casualness of our email exchange and offered a brief explanation of my urgency.
I didn’t expect to hear from her before the end of the day so I enrolled my husband and my sisters in the quandary, out of which came this resounding message, “A bird in hand is better than two in the bush.”
But did I want that bird in hand, even if I didn’t have another?
But was that okay?
A prompt reply from the kind and curious woman ensued, assuring me that she had welcomed each of my emails, and that she would like to offer me an interview. (She added that she would understand if I wanted to take the “bird in hand.”)
Bird in hand? Was it a sign?
In a delirious response to this tidal wave of movement, I drafted two emails–one refusing the job that had been offered, and the other accepting the interview.
Perched on a precipice of insanity, I resisted hitting “send” on either.
While my fingers dangled above the keys, the phone rang.
It was a friend offering some temporary work in the upcoming weeks. As she went on to describe her needs at great length, I kept thinking that I wasn’t capable of thinking about anything else at this moment, though I didn’t have the strength to interrupt her.
When I hung up, I realized that I had just been granted a reprieve. I could turn down the bird in hand and have some income to tide me over until another wave of possibility appeared.
48 hours later, I arrived with my resume and cover letter and three references to formally meet the woman who may have conspired to redirect “the current” of my life.
I dreamed I saw myself at the top of a staircase, softly lit, as if by the moon.
I thought I recognized the stairs, as the one that led to my grandmother’s attic, or the one with soft pine treads that opened into the studio where I first practiced yoga.
But no, it wasn’t either of those. It was something better. And at the top of those stairs, I beckoned myself up.
to beckon |ˈbekən| to make a gesture with the hand, arm, or head to encourage someone to come nearer or follow; to summon (someone) in this way ORIGIN Old English bīecnan, bēcnan; related to beacon.
From the lighting in my dream, I’m not surprised to discover that the word beckon is closely related to the word beacon, particularly in this aspect of its meaning:
beacon |ˈbēkən| a light set up in a high or prominent position as a guide; “a beacon of hope” ORIGIN Old English bēacn [sign, portent, ensign,] ; related to beckon .
It’s true that I’ve felt this beacon, this warm beckoning, before—each time I fell in love. From behind the curtains of my highschool auditorium, a stage hand beckoned my heart with his humor; and years later, from the end of a banquet table filled with blue claw crabs, a new waiter became the beacon of a lifetime with his warm eyes.
On both of these occasions, fear followed the beckoning–the fear of attachment to something that can be lost. Long before I was beckoned by these young men, and long before life had personally acquainted me with loss, I began to practice my defense of it.
At first, I practiced the death of my grandmother because I loved her so; and later, when she died unexpectedly, I practiced not feeling anything at all so that nothing like that could ever catch me off guard again.
When I first fell in love, I practiced attracting others so that I would always be assured of “someone”–without needing “anyone.”
Once married, I practiced holding my cards close to my chest so as not to loose the upper hand.
All defenses were lost or abandoned or worthless once I became a mother; and yet, I knew enough to keep other interests alive given that this particular love story always has a sad ending.
With my boys at ten and fifteen, the current of that ending has swept me up in its tide.
To what reckless love then am I beckoned now? And why in the attic?
If I were to use my understanding of the chakras to take this interpretation one step further, I would recognize the attic as a place aligned with the third eye, with spirit, and with self knowing.
That part of me that can’t help but feel attached would attribute this dream to new role that has quickened inside me–coupled with the fear of loosing it from my grasp. This makes me want to find several others positions for which to apply; But this time, I’ve said no to the use of defenses. I want to resist any urge to rehearse in the darkness.
This time, I want to bask in the beckoning of that light–without protecting myself from its glow.