I want to share a dream I had last night (true story, folks!) so grab a hot beverage, it's story time:
We’re in a wooden house.
“We” because I’m not alone but I can’t tell you who I’m with. A man. A stranger but not. It’s amazing to me that our dreaming brain can create a feeling of knowing someone so well, a someone that doesn’t even exist in the waking world.
I felt like, if I wanted, I could have accessed a lifetime of memories with this person. Maybe if I tried I could have but I didn’t feel the need to. We were right there and I knew him and that’s all that mattered.
This house is also known to me, though I’ve never (knowingly) seen it in my real world. It floats on an ocean and we look out together upon the waves. I feel proud of this view, it’s beautiful, it’s unique, it’s mine. He is a visitor to this house I want him to to appreciate this view as much as I do, so I gesture for him to look out and take it all in.
“Look at this amazing view.”
But as he does the waves begin to change, as if the drawing in of our attention had shifted the currents themselves. What started as calming and scenic is suddenly dark and menacing. The waves grow larger and start to crash against the window, like giant hungry animal paws thudding on the glass. The water becomes murky, the house becomes a room, we were capsizing and I was scared.
I stretch out my arms towards the window, fingers spread far apart and concentrated hard on willing the water back. Again, the ocean reacts and the thudding waves begin to retreat further and further. But not away. They grow and rise, higher and higher, until we are overshadowed by a giant tsunami wave I can barely see the top of.
My arms shake and I dare not blink. I knew I was the only thing stopping this wave from crashing down on us. I also knew it was inevitable.
“What should I do?” I thought to myself. “I don’t want this place to be destroyed. I don’t want to feel the wave crashing down on top of us and drowning us.” But I also knew I couldn’t stand there forever. There was no going back now. It was either holding on or letting go.
In that moment I feel a hand touch my arm. The man. He isn’t pulling me away or gripping tightly, he just rests his hand there as if to let me know of his presence without actually taking my attention too much.
I turn to look at him and he shakes his head. “No.” As if he is saying to me, nothing but calm on his face “You can’t hold on like this. It’s time to let go.”
I started to cry. Even when we know what to do, it doesn’t make it less scary or less of a burden.
I take a deep breath and one last look at the towering monster in front of us. You win.
My arms drop to my side, my shoulders release and I let all the tension go from my body. By the time my hands reach my side the water is crashing through the window, shards of glass are everywhere and the room fills with water quicker than I can take my next breath.
I’m kicking and grasping now. From welcoming the inevitability to fighting for my life. Every cell in my body is awake and screaming for me to move, to swim, to find a way out.
I see a flash of white light and realise I can see the surface of the water. Yes! It’s far away...really far away...but I can see it and maybe if I just swim fast enough, hard enough…
Then the light flickers and fades and I realise it isn’t the surface I’m looking at but the lights of the wooden house which is now being sucked to the bottom of the deep.
I swivel around and see another white light, the surface, this must be the surface. I start swimming again but I doubt myself. The lights look exactly the same. Swivel again. Which way is up? How can I tell? How do I know which direction to swim?
But I’ve ran out of time to decide, my lungs need air and I can’t think. I can’t breathe here. I need to breathe. I can’t.
Shit, I have to try. If I open my mouth and the water fills my lungs then that’s the fate I have to face. I can’t swim anymore so I either die here in this vast, dark ocean or I breathe.
I gasp. Gorgeous, fresh, comforting air races into my lungs and blood rushes to my head leaving me dizzy with relief. Curling into a ball, I stay there motionless in the middle of the vast darkness, breathing, the adrenaline of my discovery travelling to every appendix.
Now my head is clear and the water around me is still. In my motionless I become aware of my sinking body, the slow pull of gravity weighing me down.
If this is downwards then I know which way is up.
I swivel a final time and throw my body into action and toward the bright white light. Instead of fear driving me I’m just full of relief, excitement and anticipation of feeling the water break away around me.
Which it does. I find open sky. I wake up.
What's the deal?
Recently I’ve been trying to practice more mindfulness and meditation. At first I thought it would help me to feel more calm and give me a silent place to retreat. Really though, I’m learning that it’s just about taking a moment to feel gravity, to take a breath and to realign myself in the present and the paths I want to take. Some of these things I’ve generally been pretty shite at doing my whole adult life.
Facing big decisions is difficult but we can learn to take a step back, trust our intuition and let go of fighting the anxiety that comes with the territory of fighting for our dreams.
Either that or I’m just an X-men with thalassophobia. I’ll keep you updated.