Refuge

Picture 246

In the woods of my youth, I would tell my dreams to whomever would hear them, usually the swayback mare or the barn swallows who built their nests high in the corn crib. As a child of the country, the forests were my refuge. In the woods I was someone, the narrator of my own life, the one I meant to have.

On summer days I would spend hours looking for insects, reptiles, and amphibians. I was obsessed with their seeming insignificance or disdain felt by most humans. For me, they became worlds beyond worlds, an unseen realm of dreamers keeping track of the earth’s secrets. They saw things most mammals cannot see. They recorded the events of much more complex creatures with their own simple arithmetic of rhythmic chirps and bellows.

In these times, I seek out this refuge, but where do I find it? Gone is my Indiana home of wildflowers and forests skirting the edges of farms. In a desert city, there are few places to hide from the chaotic world. A friend of mine used to refer to the human world as the “meat world” and nature as the “fur world”. The fur world is much more than that. It is the place of plants and stone and soil. It is the water world, and the decomposed humus that reminds us of our death.

One of my favorite places in the woods was a natural sinkhole. I would sit there among the saplings and undergrowth, imagining it to be a cocoon, a sacred bowl that contained protective powers where I would feel safe, where I would speak to God.

For so long, I have been without refuge. What I found was false sanctuary in a bottle, running, un-remembering. In this limbo, I am learning to return to the lessons of insects. What appears to be insignificant can sometimes save. I cultivate a refuge among ant hills and alleyways where coyotes run.

And in my cityscape, I listen to the wild beneath.

 

 

 

Free Range Dreaming: A Necessary Plan of Action

Image

Reverie is not a mind vacuum.  It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plenitude of the soul.  ~Gaston Bachelard

I approach dreaming as an action. I take the time to deliberately daydream and in this act, I see my future self engaging in what my present self cannot yet imagine.

In a frenetic life, we believe ourselves to lack the ability to be in the moment. I generally agree. However, I would also add to this that we lack the imagination to be in transit with our thoughts. Our thoughts, rather, simply mirror our reality – a random and sometimes exhausting plague of worries and nightmares about the swirling madness around us.

Fear is indistinct and amorphous. Fear occupies our mind and makes us believe we have logic to our thoughts, when oftentimes we are simply on a bullet train of the unimaginable.

Our creative mind, however, can transcend our reality. This interpretation of present day also informs our future. Daydreaming is future-forming.

Image

Dreaming Our Secrecy

“There are parts of me he’ll never know,
My wild horses and my river beds…”
~ Island, Heather Nova

Every day we are bombarded by people, places, things that demand to know what we are doing, thinking and feeling. This invasion of our private thoughts leaves little room for imagination, for daydreaming. There are times we even covet our thoughts (and sometimes twist truths in an effort to protect our mental terrain). The exposure of information of the personal nature, leads us to forget how we need and rely upon solitude and privacy for sanity. This exposure stymies creativity, intimacy, connection. It is only that we think we know others and ourselves. But do we?

In an uninterrupted space, ask yourself one question: Why do you have the life you have?

Have we been deluded? Are we bitter? Have we lost our way in an assault of shoulds?

Quietude helps us find truth: the ugliness of emotional and physical damage, the spine-real needs, and the unwieldy expectations. It is easier to cultivate than it seems, this awareness. It is animal, our blood-filled world of pulse and hunger, thirst and creation.

Just once, can you imagine yourself in a life you’ve actively dreamed and created?

Image

Memory: It’s Over-rated

“The party has begun… It’s not like I can feel you still…”
Strange, Tori Amos

In reflection, I never expected to find a grandiose meaning of life. I accept that being alive is enough, and I follow the basic path of survival as my ancestors, fellow species of plants, trees, mammals, birds, etc.. I am more comfortable with this notion: that life is simply about living, than I am about some esoteric or judgmental heaven or karmic wheels. I find peace in the life/death cycle that frees me to be in an unresolved yet beautiful vision of never-ending cycles.

When I think upon past significant moments, the manifestations of fantasy, rarely do I still believe them to be as monumental as they were in the preconceived state. In fact, as a protective measure of survival and thus, chance and risk, our brains are wonderful romantics. We are neurochemically predisposed to forget pain and exaggerate pleasure. This is a great asset when we need to advance our species or avoid being eradicated, but it can work against us when seeking to learn from emotional highs and lows, from addictive and compulsive behaviors. It is tough to resist nostalgia.

Not only is it imperative to dream but also it is equally important to deconstruct our dreams. An exchange of present wish-keeping must replace memories of the past, if we are to avoid getting entirely lost in reverie.

Remember: the ART of dreaming is an ACT. And, actions require time and dedication.

So where do we find the time?

  1. Walking: Match the movement of your pace and breath with the movement of your thoughts.
  2. Sweating: I frequently visit sweat lodges and saunas for total, uninterrupted mind-strolls.
  3. Riding in trains, buses, cars: Use your time as a passenger to let your mind wander.
  4. Moot meetings: I have done almost all of my creative brainstorming while in meetings that did not require any real presence.
  5. Waiting: How much of our lives are spent waiting for others? Instead of fuming, use the time to your free-range dreaming advantage.

I am sure you can think of countless other opportunities. The point is, dreaming is cathartic. Dreaming helps turn the tides. It is creative. It is our best life coach and planner.

Believe in the power of your dreams because they create your reality. They are the first manifestation of what most certainly is to come.