Monday, February 11, 2013

Fantastic dream

Last night I had a fantastic dream!
 
I was walking down the sidewalk on the street where I grew up.  Suddenly I became aware of a scary presence and a feeling of dread.  To try to get away from it I began walking faster and faster until I was running.  The sky became dark and I was running as fast as I could.  I was running so fast that my face down and I could only see directly in front of where I was running.  Just in front of me was a black flowing fabric, like a cape.  It kept the same pace so that it was always just a few inches in front of me.  I was really scared! Suddenly the thought occurred to me to grab hold of the flowing cape, have faith, and stop running.  So I did.

Immediately the cape lifted me up into the sky.  The longer I held on the faster my ascent upward.  I was ascending at such a fast rate that the wind peeled my clothes off.  I felt like I was being carried into outer space, only it wasn't dark.  There was brightness all around me and I wasn't scared at all, despite being lifted far up into the sky.  Then the thought entered my mind to let go of the cape-like fabric, so I did.  I immediately stopped ascending.  I heard a whistle sound followed by a pop, just like the fireworks you hear on the 4th of July.  

Just after the whistle and pop I looked out into the sky and saw a series of images that resonated with me deeply.  It was if I were looking at a slide show projected on an enormous drive-in movie screen in the sky.  The first image was Bill Murray when he was a cast member of the TV show 'Saturday Night Live'.  A few seconds later I saw Gilda Ratner, also from 'Saturday Night Live'.  Then I saw my school picture from 11th grade, circa 1980, wearing a brown print button-up shirt and aviator glasses.  I looked at my arm and saw that I was now wearing the shirt in my school picture.  Then I saw my first car, a pale green Chevrolet Chevette.  These images from my life brought me great joy and happiness!  I used to love watching 'Saturday Night Live' back in 1980 when that school picture was taken and I learned to drive in that Chevette.  I felt very much at peace and not at all concerned about my rapid ascent into the sky.  Am I in heaven?  There was an all-encompassing feeling of joy.

When the giant slide show ended I looked down and realized that I was standing in the isle of a huge outdoor stadium.  As far as my eyes could see there were stadium seats full of people looking up at the sky where the slide show had just finished.  Then coming down the isle to greet me were my father, mother, and my aunt Mary as they looked in 1980.  At this point I realize that I am my current age (49) but they look just like they did in 1980.  We embraced and said hello, although I don't remember any other conversation between us.  Then the 4 of us sat down together in the stadium to watch the next slide show.  The feelings of love and joy continued.

Again I heard the whistle sound followed by the pop like a firework and the next slide show began.  First a grainy, vintage picture of horses in a meadow.  Then 2 dogs playing together in someone's front yard.  Next a vintage red metal tricycle, and then a 1965 Chrysler convertible.  All the images seemed to be from the mid 1960s.  I didn't recognize the images but I felt a deep sense of happiness and joy.  Since the first firecracker sound seemed to announce my arrival and was followed by happy scenes from my life, I assumed that these 1960s images were happy scenes from someone else's life who had just arrived.  But arrived where?

Maybe I was in heaven.  This thought did not make me either happy or sad, although if it were true then I must have died.  Then I silently asked myself if this was heaven, why were my parents and aunt Mary here with me and not with my siblings or with their siblings?

Once again I heard the whistle sound followed by the pop of the firecracker.  I looked back up at the slide show in the sky and saw images I recognized.  They were scenes of happiness for my friend Billy.  I saw his cat Fluffy, then he and I in our matching wool trench coats, Billy making a crazy face, and Billy with his sister.  All of these images seemed to be from 1992.  As if an answer to my silent question, I realized that I was present in the slide show of my happiness in 1980, but I also existed in the slide show of Billy's happiness in 1992.  So this must mean that although my parents existed (sitting next to me) in this stadium, they potentially existed in the happiness and decade of several other people too.  For some reason this was a real comfort to me.  If I were in heaven, then heaven must not be just one thing.  Instead, each person's experience is unique and full of specific joy and happiness for them, while they also exist in the heaven of others.

Yes, I thought to myself, I must be in heaven.  Yet I had no recollection of dying nor any feeling of missing loved ones.  I only felt complete joy and happiness; the opposite of anxiety and worry.

And then I woke up.

The dream was so fantastic I quickly replayed it in my head so I wouldn't forget the details by morning.  Once secure that I had it, I began to wonder why I'd had this dream.  Most scientists say dreams are synaptic firings in the brain that often mesh real life details with unrelated people and places, and that dreams hold no real meaning.  But was there something I could learn from this detail-rich dream?

My first thought was that perhaps the dream was God's/The Universe's way of getting this agnostic skeptic to reconsider a possible belief in heaven.  Having been raised as a Jehovah's Witness I was taught that heaven was a place where angels flew around in white robes playing harps.  Yet the heaven I experienced in my dream was nothing like that, and was far more interesting.  The peace and joy were indescribable.

Next I wondered if the dream was really a metaphor for the dramatic life change I chose.  Maybe the running and being afraid in the dream was the way I ran around constantly busying myself in the JW faith so I wouldn't think about being gay, and the fear that someone would find out.  Maybe grabbing onto the cape, having faith, stopping running, and being lifted up from the darkness and fear into the light and joy symbolized my decision to leave the oppressive religion and choose a life of authenticity for myself.  Maybe the slide show of happy excerpts of my life was a reminder that although I went through a difficult journey, there were still happy times back then that I can reflect upon.  And maybe my existence in my friend Billy's heaven was a confirmation that I had been a good friend to him, and that being good really matters.

Or maybe it was the sinus medicine I took just before I went to bed.  

I'm not sure, but it was a fantastic dream!  And whether or not the dream was a lesson from the Universe or a metaphor of my life choices, I decided it didn't really matter.  I'd never really know for sure one way or the other.  

But isn't that the way it is with so many challenges in life?  We can take them as lessons, metaphors, or simply as entertainment.  

As long as we hear them.

2 comments:

Jon DeepBlue said...

My dreams are usually so totally fucked up! I wish I had one like yours.

Your dream describes pretty much what my mom told me heaven must be like, a place of genuine peace and hapiness with no worries, no regrets, no sense of lost.

Today, I believe heaven is not a "place" but more a state of mind. We create our own heaven or hell here on earth.

Lisa O' said...

Oh, what a great post! Thanks for this. I have been thinking this week about our inner lives--and this is a reflection of who I know you to be (good, funny, positive, engaged), this dream. About dreams: The poet Joy Harjo said in an interview that since we spend a full third of our lives asleep, it seems wrong NOT to pay attention to our dream worlds. The ancients got the idea for a "soul" and "heaven" because they thought the afterlife must be like the place we go when we are asleep--"dead" on Earth--and really, when you hear a dream like this, it makes sense. Thanks again.