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
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
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.