Conduct and observance

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Household dreams

Last night I had a quite extraordinary dream.

In the dream, I woke up in my bedroom. It was not a familiar bedroom; nonetheless, I clearly recognized it as home. It was a new home. I had just moved in, but was already well situated.

What was extraordinary was that the entire house was on a railway car, and in motion. Somehow in the middle of the night, while I was asleep, someone had lifted the entire house up off the foundation, put it on the railway train, and sent it off.

I was bewildered, to say the least. Accepting -- as we all do, in dreams -- the sheer illogic of the situation was the least of the difficulties.

First of all, it seemed impossible to me that all this could have taken place without even waking me up.

Secondly, I had no idea of where we were going or why it had been done.

Thirdly, everything that I cared about was in the basement of the house. My music studio, my computer, all my guitars. Admittedly somehow this seems like a limited scope of things; after all, I am interested in a lot more than just my music studio and computer. But symbolically they represented a specific and very important aspect of life which was now somehow lost. Everything that was "valuable" had been left behind.

I could not figure out what to do. Somehow I managed to stop the train, and get off in a woodland glade in a nondescript local municipal park. This did not really solve the problem at all. I still didn't know where I was. It turns out I was in Germany; this association provides some link between the dream and my earlier life, because I grew up in Germany.

So I realized then that at least I spoke the language. This didn't do me much good; I had no money, nothing whatsoever, not even identification, and no idea of how to get back to where the foundation of my house was.

I got into a car (don't ask me where the car came from, remember, this was a dream, so I presume I manufactured the car instantaneously when I needed it) and tried to drive back to the house. Unfortunately there was no GPS in the car, and I didn't know where I was going. I kept seeing small streets that looked like they might be the right ones and then realizing that they weren't, I was lost, and there was no way back to where I had come from. I did not even have a telephone number to call. Not that that would have done much good; after all, you cannot call a basement.

Somewhere in this timeline I bemoaned the disappearance of my guitars. The instruments are quite expensive, and it was utterly mortifying to consider their loss.I distinctly recall, in the dream, thinking to myself, "Well, the fact is that the house has been moved and the guitars are almost certainly stolen. I will have to accept that."

This dream has several different levels to it. Let's discuss two obvious and yet somewhat contradictory points of view on it.

One point of view is that the story line is about inner evolution. As we change, we lose our old self. We leave behind everything in ordinary life, and we find ourselves in a new landscape which is quite different than the one we left behind. If we truly change, we can never go back to where we came from. This kind of significant, concrete inner change is what we all claim we seek. Yet if we find ourselves on a railway car that is truly carrying where we live away from where we came from, it is distressing and frightening. We can't help but feel that we have lost something enormous and that we no longer have a place to rest our head. I felt that way, for example, when I lost my impulse to do artwork.

Another interpretation is that I am not connected to my lower story. I have lost the connection to the fundamental parts of myself that support me in this effort of life. In seeking something higher than myself, I have forgotten my roots. Even if I find myself where my roots are indisputably located -- Germany -- it is not enough. I need to be planted firmly right on top of what feeds my impulse towards the higher in order to go anywhere real.

Today I went out for a walk in the morning with the famous dog Isabel. The snow is melting everywhere; green plants are poking their noses up through wet leaves, and local rivulets are swollen with the icy blessings of cold water. The sun found, and warmed, the imposing basalt cliffs of the Palisades; birds warbled comfortably of love, and future nesting.

While I was in the woods, I sought out a boulder that I saw a little over a week ago, just as the last storm had deposited its first thin coat of snow. Today I got a better look at it. The boulder is a huge glacial erratic. It has stories to tell that can instruct us.

Tomorrow, we will talk about ice, water, and land. And erratics.

Did you take the time to remember how you breathe today? To see what it connects to?

To take the time, even once in the day, to see how the breath enters the body is a good work.

Give it a chance, and see what happens.

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