Changes — A dream and a truth

Changes — the dream

I stand on my front porch. The windows reach from floor to ceiling, and each pane of glass frames a view — sparrows in the dormant hedge; white picket front gate; the upward twist and thrust of linden’s trunk. The day is bright, yet gray, and the trees are just beginning to consider putting out leaf buds, for though it is spring, the air remains quite chill. Beyond our porch, past our small square of yard, a man walks down the middle of the road. His head is bowed against the cold, his shoulders shrugged forward beneath his flannel shirt, and his hands are stuffed deep into his pants pockets. He walks toward our neighbors’ house, climbs the porch steps, knocks on front door. Our neighbors answer, and I can see they engage in brief conversation. Before the visitor departs, hugs are exchanged. Soon, I see another man, then another and another. They all do the same. Each one wanting to say goodbye to our neighbors, who have put their house up for sale and are moving.

Changes — the Truth

Our neighbors truly are moving.  Their planned departure has become the most recent symbol to me of change. We hear so much of change — change is good, change is inevitable, change is the only constant. I have always found these descriptions uncomfortable, ill-fitting. The latter two seem fatalistic — as though we are simply the victims of change and have no say in the outcome; and the first one is so subjective — dependent entirely upon who is making the change, and who will receive the results of the changes. But several years ago, I saw a card that contained the Chinese ideogram for change along with the explanation that this tumultuous, heavy word, when written in Chinese Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.10.15 PMcharacters, is made up of two different words — danger and opportunity. Change contains danger and opportunity…This, I find easier to accept, that when the inevitable changes come our way, we have the opportunity to choose how we will confront them — as occurrences to be denied and struggled against, or as opportunities to search for some positive and unseen outcome.

After thirty years, our neighbors have decided it is best that they downsize and begin the next chapter of their lives together. I cannot argue with their logic. They have always been been kind, generous, and gracious, and our neighborhood has benefited greatly from their presence. And though I have lost the card with the Chinese character for Change, I know that while I will miss our neighbors, I have now opportunities before me, only some that I can immediately envision — the opportunity to welcome new neighbors into our little community, to keep the tone of warmth and friendliness our former neighbors have set, and to hope we can expand the idea of neighborliness together.

The Woman Below — a dream

I stand within a lush temperate rain forest, heavy with varied shades of green. Everywhere I turn — truly massive trees, their roots snaking through loamy soil and their rough trunks softened with layers of moss. Tall ferns bend beneath their weight of dew. The forest floor rises and falls in tiers. Humid air thickens in my lungs. This landscape persists as far as I can see, and despite its primeval beauty, I find myself nearly overwhelmed by claustrophobia.Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The “enemy” approaches. There is no possible way we can engage them and win, so we must find someplace within this green jungle to hide. I scout for just such a place — skirting huge trees, climbing over root and rock, parting leafy undergrowth — when I find a tree trunk sheared off cleanly and close to the ground. It must be thirty feet across. Its roots still wind into the earth, and under one, I find a partly concealed tunnel. Pushing aside curtains of moss and rootlike tendrils, I duck my head to enter the tunnel’s mouth and begin a slow, short descent. At the bottom, I enter a vast, dry, open space — a sandy-floored cave beneath the tree itself.

There is a woman here, standing within the cave’s center. She is unlike any one I have ever seen before. Small tusks protrude from her bottom jaw, her forehead is deeply furrowed, and her hair is thick as the tree’s tendrilled roots. Layers of robes and skirts swath her body, and she stands fiercely erect. We do not speak, but I understand that I, and those I seek to conceal from harm, are welcome and will be safely sheltered here.

Leaving the cave, I share my discovery with the other scouts, and we rush to gather as many people as we can find to direct them to safety before the enemy arrives. This is no easy task. I search the open hollows and niche-like shelters created by the massive trees’ trunks and rootworks. When I find someone, they are invariably asleep beneath piles of ragged quilts and blankets. I must listen for sounds of their snores and labored breathing. Each time I think I have found the last person, I hear a faint noise, and after pulling away heaps of blankets, find another sleeper beneath them, curled up and oblivious to the approaching danger.

As I struggle to rouse yet one more sleeper, I have a vision — though they are yet some distance away, I can see the enemy massing at a narrow pass, preparing to cross a slender rope bridge that spans a chasm. I am surprised to see the strong resemblance they bear to the woman in the cave beneath the shorn tree. But I know that the woman below is no friend to them and is no threat to us, and we will be safe under the tree within her protection.

Dream and Intention

Created with Nokia Smart CamNot long ago, I sat with my writing partners amidst the tools of our intent and mugs of hot tea. Before we could gather the words, phrases, and imagery we would weave into the fabrics of our personal choosing, I asked a question all too common for me: “First, can I tell you a dream I had last night?” And they, as is their habit, indulged me. I then described a lush, temperate rainforest setting, thick with ancient trees and deep, moss carpeting. The details were so sharp in my memory — the scents, the sounds, the textures… They silently digested my tale, and then suggested I start a blog specifically to share my dreams.

Now, truly, my writing partners are two unusual women. They express actual interest in hearing the details of my nocturnal flights of fancy. Any of you who have ever wanted to share some fantastic dream with another have doubtless experienced the more typical reaction:  the eyes of your intended audience glaze over; suddenly any activity that would draw them legitimately away from their current environment becomes urgent — a trip to the recycling center, filling out tax forms, a project in the basement that has languished too long. I myself don’t understand how listening to someone’s dream can be considered  equivalent to visiting the dentist, but this is about the enthusiasm most can muster on the subject.

Nonetheless, after sitting with the idea, here I am, navigating terrain that for me is entirely new. The ironic bit is, since that night in the rainforest, I have not awakened with a single dream in-tact.  Each morning, I open my eyes and the tendrils of dream shift and part — stored neatly in a cupboard in my memory to which I have no key. One image I recently managed to retain:  that of an over-filled waffle iron, sizzling batter seeping slowly down the iron’s sides to puddle on the counter. Chocolate batter. I don’t think this counts, but I have since had a persistent and unaddressed urge for chocolate waffles. Maybe, I’ll share the rainforest dream that set me on this new path…  Another time…