A Dream for the New Year

I went to sleep not having written a blog and this dream woke me . . .

I was in a room and it was time. My mind was clear and present. I agreed to have the injection that would end my life. But when a tall man with a black suit and white shirt arrived with a syringe ready to plunge the needle through my skin, I freaked. “No! No, no!” I shouted as I pulled away. He was determined and latched on, but I was thrashing wildly and ripped free of his grip. I would not give in easily, I wanted to live.

With every particle of my being, I fought back. Then I said, “Please, if I am to die now, I must tell my Zen teacher and community.” He agreed to let me go make a phone call if afterwards I would return for the needle.

I ran out of the room, ran as far and as fast I could. I was on the lam. Up and over bridges, staircases, down alleys, and across lonely boulevards. In an area with small shops I saw some boxes of biscuits and thought of snatching one, but resisted.

Then I saw my daughter. I called, “Ariel!” and again, “Ariel, come with me, please!”

She came over, I grabbed her hand, and we sprinted until we arrived on a grassy plateau. I was about to tell her what was happening when the tall man with the black suit and white shirt arrived waving the syringe. He grabbed my arm and said, “You will not escape me, now!” He jerked my right hand towards his body to plunge the needle into my wrist. He injected the fluid with great glee and strode away. But I had seen the needle catch on my sweater’s knitted cuff, the poison had not entered my body.

I had outsmarted death. I didn’t know how many more times I would be able to avoid him, but I secretly hoped for nine lives like a cat — and that when the ninth time came — I would be ready. I want no regrets, I want to go with grace.

You might wonder why such a strong dream at this turning of the year. A few days ago, I had breakfast with a friend who lost her partner to a re-occurrence of breast cancer. I have a friend struggling with depression, another paralyzed by the political turmoil in the world, and another beside herself with grief because of the destruction of the natural world. Many of us carry serious fear, and even terror.

Confucius told his followers, 'Bring peace to the old, have trust in your friends, and cherish the young.' And he lived during turbulent times. The message I received in my dream is to live life to the fullest. I am grateful for my Zen Mountain Monastery community who helped me survive in my dream as they have through difficult times. I am grateful for my daughter who brought her angelic presence to the dream as she so often does in daily life.  

 Ariel and I on a Hike, Selfie, 2016

Ariel and I on a Hike, Selfie, 2016

Dreams have a lot to offer us. I tried to go deeper into sensing this ‘being alive’. I felt each thing awake — the singular blade of grass, the snowflake, the pink salmon. We shape the world with what we do, what we see, and what we think. Mind is what I cherish because it connects us all — each person born and unborn — each tree and star. And just maybe, the poison to my body had no effect because it will never have power over mind.

I wish you happiness and well-being in the coming year!

May you receive and offer gifts of kindness, generosity, and creativity.  

Canyonlands Many Hands.jpg

Many Hands Blessing Earth

Happy New Year 2018

 

 

Cutting Off a Leg

I started writing a follow-up to the blog, All about Art, from two weeks ago in which I unintentionally wrote about six women artists and did not mention one man. I thought about the fact that this would never happen in an issue of ARTnews or Art Forum, despite the work of the Guerilla Girls, a nonprofit organization that since the early 1980s has been raising awareness of the lack of equal representation of women artists in major art museums and galleries. Then I proceeded to write about some of the male artists exhibiting at Old Frog Pond Farm this fall.

  Where I Get My Water , Ray Ciemny 

Where I Get My Water, Ray Ciemny 

Ray's piece is a commentary on the scarcity of clean water for many people on our planet. Made of scrap steel and rubble, the girders were salvaged from the old Fitch’s Bridge above the Nashua River in Groton, MA.

Then I changed my mind, because it is the opening of apple picking and I felt I should write about the beautiful diversity of apples ripening in the orchard.

Then I had a dream where I had to cut off the lower half of my leg.

Cutting off one’s leg is a major life altering event. In my dream, I wasn’t upset about it, but was calmly trying to decide when would be the right time to do it. I wasn’t considering the challenges or the healing or the rehabilitation—it was a dream after all, a symbol.

Losing a leg in a dream is fairly easy to analyze. Our legs are what we stand on, what supports us, and having two legs gives us balance. To dream that I was about to cut off a significant part of one leg seems to indicate that something in my life is out of balance. Or is it a way to take control of what is out of control? Or, maybe, I saw myself as split in two, two legs, and was trying to become one. I agree, there are other, better ways to make myself whole, but my unconscious did find the imagery to express itself and get my attention.

When I wake up with an image from a dream that is very clear, I like to contemplate and write about it. This cut off my leg dream was giving me a clear signal of the need for radical change, though what exactly it refers to remains opaque.

I could be anticipating the craziness of harvest time. Yellow, red, green, scarlet, and striped fruit orbs weigh down the flexible apple branches. There is an abundance of ripe fruit out in the orchard, but there is an angst that comes with it. Apple-picking time is when both my husband, Blase, and I feel like we have absolutely no control over any moment of our lives. We interact with hundreds and hundreds of people, through emails, phone calls, and complete strangers knocking at the back door. You might call it the downside of success, and sometimes it feels overwhelming.

It’s also possible that I was disturbed by Freedom Baird’s haunting sculptural installation, Graft. She has used the cavity from a once twin-trunked oak tree and created a prosthesis of sorts.  

  Graft , Freedom Baird       Photo:Robert Hesse

Graft, Freedom Baird       Photo:Robert Hesse

Freedom Baird writes,

Like so many I’m preoccupied with environmental stewardship (this preoccupation has ratcheted up to acidic alarm under a Trump administration). Recently I’ve been experimenting with ways to catalyze a reconsideration of humans’ relationship to the “natural” world. Specifically, I’ve been inventing objects that push against the construct that man and nature are separate. Projects have included synthesizing plastic utensils from food, grafting milled lumber onto a living tree, designing prosthetic limbs for amputated trees. . .

I’ve been horrified by recent government proposals to cut back the boundaries of protected land. Specifically, the acreage around the Bears Hill National Monument in Utah that President Obama protected honoring the request of tribal nations before he left office. It’s enough to make anyone who cares about our environment feel out of control.

But the truth is the next seven weeks are much too busy for me to spend time thinking about other places and possibilities. Dream or no dream, I need to focus on what is right in front of me. I need to have two feet firmly on the ground.