I just awoke from a vivid dream and these thoughts came to me:
All of us run away from deep connection to the true sacred, and from our deep connection to each other. We all run away in our own ways. I mean we build our lives, give meaning to experiences. We apply our world views and beliefs (whether they be erroneous or true) to every waking perception and experience. We gather habits and behaviors that contribute to our “ways” of running away. At some point, we either get hip to this running away or we don’t. We turn to seek Spiritual truth, or we don’t.
Along the way we keep tangible things that act as symbols perhaps, and we carry these tangible things with us, sometimes for a lifetime.
Some people are not “into” possessions. I know such people. In fact with some people it would seem that possessions make them nervous. But some of us get caught up in gathering artifacts. I am one such person. My stuff is all sacred to me.
But lately my possessions make me nervous. I have been a person who has aquired many artifacts. Like an archeologist who spends her entire life digging up relics with great excitement, I have gathered these artifacts. To explain the past? To decode the symbol of the thing? The symbol that the thing has become? I don’t know. Do these relics somehow shed light upon this moment? On the present? On who I am? Certainly they do.
Some of us (and this us includes me) keep these artifacts for a long time. These possessions follow us wherever we go or wherever we don’t go. We amass a lot of these tangible relics gathered over a time. Some of us keep these “things” close to us for an entire lifetime. We assign great meaning to each thing. “Sentimental value” as some would say. We dig them out, dust them off and arrange them around us like museum pieces on exhibit. Where am I (the I that is really I) in this exhibit of antiquities?
There is a stereotypical image that comes into my mind here. You see this scene played out in movies all the time. A child (or an adult) has a secret box–usually an old tattered box– in which her prized possessions are kept. This box she hides somewhere. She takes this box out sometimes and picks up the items contained in the box one by one. They are odd things. A rusty spring, a tattered piece of newspaper, a worn ribbon, a broken watch, an old photo.
Here is a piece of the dream that got me really thinking about my “stuff.”
A dream after a catch-up day of sleep, sleep and more sleep. In the dream I was completely re-ordering my stuff. Everything, in chests, in drawers, on shelves, in boxes. Everything. I was making a big mess that I would have to fix–putting everything back together somehow. To create order from the re-ordering of my stuff. I do this in real life. It takes up a lot of my time, me doing this ritual. I do it often. Little collections rotated, arranged and rearranged just so– rest upon antique desks , shelves, tables.
In my dream, an old boyfriend was there, and he was still running from everything, including a very bad man with no conscience.
The dream was like a murder mystery in a way, with the intoduction of this bad conscience-less man who was pursuing my old boyfriend. My old boyfriend, who by visiting me now, by proxy brought this bad man to be now pursuing me. The bad man had published a deck of new age cards, complete with book and sturdy blue box. It was a big hit. What did the cards reveal about this bad man?
I had taken down everything from one of my walls and discovered that there was nothing between my wall and the wall of my apartment neighbors-A nice young woman and her husband. So the sheetrock crumbled in places and I could see clearly into my neighbor’s apartment. Of course I called through these “holes” to explain to my neighbors what had happened. They did not seem too alarmed, in fact they seemed rather amused.
I want to get the dream down because from this dream came an answer for me in the here and now. And you know how dreams are–they go away quickly. And they are so strange in the telling–but if you will bear with me through the dream I will get to the subject of this entry.
The neighbors were Jewish, and were practicing a ritual of this season. Many many family members were gathered together. They even invited me to participate (beings that I could see into their space?) and I almost went. But my re-ordering of things kept me working to restore order to the chaos I had created with my “belongings.”
My ex boyfriend and I seemed resigned to our missed opportunity owing to his way of running away. We were comfortable with each other (though there was a certain exciting tension), and were laughing and were easy within the space between us in each others presence. I did fault him (silently) for his ways of running away of course, but by the way we acted, it seemed I had forgiven him for it.
The ritual next door was lovely. The music of their chanting voices. Their singing voices were beautiful. I’m sure my dream version of a Jewish ritual is much different than a real one, because in addition to the yamikas, my neighbors and their family members all wore a rich blue velvet garment embroidered with golden symbols. They sat in a circle. The father of the family sort of presided. What was clear to me was the united faith and belief they shared, the celebration of something sacred and holy; something outside the realm of the mundane or daily unconscious survival in life.
The thing was though, that the bad man was in the circle with them. And they seemed deceived by him as all others did–All his “fans”–the public representation of those who had bought and used his oracle cards.
So as my boyfriend told me the story of this bad man, I continued to work with my “stuff.” Moving things around, opening up stored boxes of things, talking about what they meant to me, where they came from, why I had them… I did register concern consciously of the bad man now knowing me through my ex. How could I not register this shade of a fear peering at me through a hole in my wall?
A long time ago I had an idea to do make a movie in which I would pan through the homes of different people focusing on their “artifacts.” Sort of like the introduction was in the old Masterpiece Theatre series. When I walk into a person’s home, I do get some sense of who they are. Especially if there are a lot of books. I always look at the titles of the books people have on their shelves.
But back to me being nervous these days about all my stuff. I feel somewhat smothered by my possessions. Why? I think it has something to do with needing to let go of ways of being that keep me from feeling free. Isn’t that what it’s always been about?
It would be symbolically freeing to let go of my attachments to my stuff. What if I kept only one little boxful? What would be in that odd little box, I wonder. The point might be only that to be free really does mean to remain unattached to things and outcomes. It all sounds so simple.
But here we are travelling with our metaphorical baggage and with our literal stuff. All to traverse the landscape of our lives trying to read the signs as we go.
I want to travel light from here on out. In real life, I never do. I always overpack. Even when just going to the grocery store. I look around me here, at all my “artifacts” the symbols of my journey, and wonder what they all really mean to me. I wonder why I keep them, handle them, re-order them, dust them off, place them just so…
Suddenly I don’t know how to conclude this. It’s Christmas Eve. And in the telling of this, I have forgotten the simple message my dream brought to me. At least I have lost the clear and simple essence of the message. It has something to do with “presence.” The perception of what my choices are.
As I look at the “presents” wrapped in bright paper and tied with sparkling bows, I ask myself if somewhere along the way the two homonyms got mixed up.
Several tenors sing Ave Maria in Italian on the radio, and I get chills. Tears well up in my eyes. I realize that all I need, I already have within me. Answers. Meanings. Hopes. Dreams. It doesn’t matter if I am attached to my stuff. The journey to freedom is just what it is.
Now trying to conclude this ramble, the bad man and his lovely seeming oracle deck comes back to haunt me. What comes into my mind seems like an answer. A song lyric in a classic Christmas carol. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”