Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Prayer for Thanksgiving

As we give thanks for our many and various gifts this day, let's remember Wabanaki Algonquin writer Big Thunder:

"Give us hearts to understand;
Never to take from creation's beauty more than we give;
never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed;

Never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth's beauty;
never to take from her what we cannot use.

Give us hearts to understand
That to destroy earth's music is to create confusion;
that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty;

That to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench;
that as we care for her she will care for us.

We have forgotten who we are.
We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.

Great Spirit, whose dry lands thirst,
Help us to find the way to refresh your lands.
Great Spirit, whose waters are choked with debris and pollution,
help us to find the way to cleanse your waters.

Great Spirit, whose beautiful earth grows ugly with misuse,
help us to find the way to restore beauty to your handiwork.
Great Spirit, whose creatures are being destroyed, help us to find a way to replenish them.

Great Spirit, whose gifts to us are being lost in selfishness and corruption,
help us to find the way to restore our humanity.

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, whose breath gives life to the world,
hear me; I need your strength and wisdom. May I walk in Beauty."


Monday, November 20, 2006

Practical Dreaming #8 -- Dreaming the Future

Our dreams are full of information about our lives. Sometimes we are offered psychological insights into ourselves. Sometimes we will dream a deeper understanding of a relationship or a knotty problem with which we're confronted. Sometimes we dream the future. Sometimes these dreams of the future are warnings that allow us to sidestep peril (as one woman I know did: having dreamt a very particular tableaux that preceded her getting into a car accident, she took a different action in waking life when that tableaux presented itself -- the other car smashed up as she had dreamt, but in the waking event, she avoided mishap herself). As in Dream Theater, when we re-enact someone's dream in waking life, we can change the ending of a dream that is unsatisfactory. But of course we must first open to our dreaming, and then resolve to remember our dreams and bring them back to our waking lives.

As with any human faculty or talent, some people are more gifted than others at dreaming the future. I know dreamers who routinely bring back cues to their future -- or the futures of people around them. (A woman I know [whom I hadn't seen in six months] told me of her dream that I'd met my future wife. As it turns out, I'd begun dating her about three months prior.) I myself do not commonly have dreams of the future (although in recent years the pace has been picking up a bit) -- my talent seems to lean more towards being a scout or guide for others (in addition to traveling on my own behalf). But I have had blockbuster dreams about the future that have knocked me flat.

Traveling in Malaysia after college graduation (1988), I had an utterly vivid dream wherein I flew back through the night to visit the sweetheart -- my first true love -- I'd left behind (she had 1 year left at school). We had been writing letters back and forth in the 3 months I'd been gone and I was looking forward to seeing her in Australia for Christmas. When I flew up to her on the campus -- she was attending an outdoor concert of Javanese gamelan music -- she greeted me happily but grabbed my hand instead of embracing me and led me out into the trees that skirted the performance area. She launched into a monologue about how great our relationship had been for her after a number of failed romances, and how it had been healing for her to be with me. As she continued speaking, I sort of stopped listening to the words and heard the meta-text behind them: she was breaking up with me. When I hove back into my hearing mind, she was finishing up with "...but we'll be friends, right? Say we will!" I assured her we would and she hugged me sisterly-like and scurried back to the show, sitting down with her new beau (a guy I knew, actually). I staggered off in shock to find a restroom (all that astral travel and no potty-break, y'know?) but when I went into the bathroom the urinals were mounted on the walls and the sinks on the ceilings. Everything was utterly out of whack.

I awoke in a sweat, hearing the muezzin calling the Muslim faithful of Penang to the early-early prayer, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I wrote the dream down in my travel journal -- my first dream journal entry, although it'd be 12 years before I'd know it was such.

The next month, in Sydney, my travel-buddy R and I strode up to the house where we were supposedly meeting his girlfriend and mine. I hadn't heard from my sweetie since the week of the Malaysia dream, and was filled with misgivings. L greeted us at the door, giving R a huge hug and smooch. My girl was nowhere to be seen of course. L handed me a letter and I said, "I know what's in this letter." L couldn't figure out whether to be weirded out or consoling, so she just gave me a quick hug and led R off for some I-haven't-seen-you-in-four-months-sex. And yes, the letter contained the monologue I'd dreamed -- in content if not word-for-word. And yes, when I questioned L later, my sweetheart had taken up with the fellow I'd dreamed her with. Their romance began the week I had the dream.

Sometimes it's that clear and mindblowing and (nearly) immediate. Sometimes it's muddier and longer in coming to fruition. I dreamt I found a cat that had been hit by a car and the middle portion (side-to-side) of its head split open (across the seam of the mouth). About 9 months later my wife's cat Carmella was diagnosed with cancer in the mouth and throat. And 1 day short of the year anniversary of the dream, Carmella succumbed and passed on.

Not all dreams of the future are Things To Avoid/Fear. Right now, my wife is having dreams about the two of us co-hosting a radio talk show. She never seems to remember the exact things we discuss (though we discuss politics, spirituality, consciousness, culture...uh...everything) but when the show ends friends of ours tell us we were great. I have been sniffing around for an opportunity to get back on the air (I did a dynamite show with a friend of mine back in college) for a few months now; I am only too happy to change my dream to accommodate her dream. So of course, dreams of the future can plant a seed in our waking consciousness which, with proper care and feeding, can grow into a waking reality.

But first we must catch our dreams on the wing. Before you go to bed tonight, say aloud "I will remember my dreams" and hold that thought in your mind as long as you can as you drift down into sleep. Bring back the juice and gifts the dreaming has to offer. You can't be rich without them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dream Journal -- August 2001 -- "Adelphoi"

In this dream I am walking through a lightly-wooded area. There is clearly a habitation of some sort up ahead as I can hear the various sounds of human life -- children shouting and laughing, a hammer pounding away on something, a dog barking and so forth. Eventually, the woods end and I emerge into a clearing perhaps 200 yards across. There are stables off to my left and several outbuildings/sheds. At the center of the clearing is a large 2-story building. Sure enough, a group of a half-dozen kids is playing tag, running all over the place. A man in his mid-forties is up on the roof of one of the outbuildings working on the shingles. A shepherd/collie mutt is racing hither and yon with the children, barking excitedly.

I stride forward towards the central house and am met on the porch by a woman in her late twenties/early thirties. She smiles warmly at me but does not speak and simply leads me into the house and shows me around. There is a large kitchen and dining-room that seats perhaps thirty or so people. Adults in the kitchen are hard at work making what looks like dinner. They cutting up vegetables that my guide makes clear have been grown on the surrounding land. The dining-room is decorated with the artwork of children. Adjacent is a classroom-looking space with dry-erase boards and projection/AV equipment. Down the hall from there is an den/library with "Shhh!" signs hung up. There are locker-room-type shower/changing facilities and an adjacent laundry. My guide leads me up the stairs at the rear of the structure.

On the second floor are offices and a few guest rooms. We go out onto a veranda and in the distance my guide points out the vegetable gardens (several acres' worth) in the distance. There are also buildings for livestock and, interestingly, a baseball diamond.

Then she leads me back into the house, down the hallway and pauses outside a door and gestures me past her into the room. I walk by her, and turn left. In the room in front of me a 60-ish woman is sitting on the windowsill outlined by the late-afternoon sun. When I enter she is gazing out the window, but turns her head towards me and -- her head in silhouette and wearing a halo of the sun's white disk -- says clearly "Adelphoi."

When I awoke I was very excited by this dream. It had such a depth of waking reality to it, and the community I had toured a sense of purpose, peace and satisfaction. I researched "Adelphoi" and it is a Greek word referring to a faith community, specifically a group of Christians living together as a community. While I eschew any particular organized religion, I have been yearning for a place in an intentional community of like-minded people -- people living a spiritual and conscious life.

Since moving to New Paltz last Summer, my wife and I have been seeking out Good People and Community -- and we have had success (more on that and community in general in posts to come). However, this dream takes the idea to an entirely different level. A group of perhaps 10 families living on a large-ish chunk of land together; each family has a simple bungalow/cabin/cottage in which they have the bare necessities (sleeping quarters, toilet); a larger central building encompasses most of the indoor life of the community -- meals prepared and served/schooling of children/"entertainments" such as television and "communications" like internet and so forth/infirmary/business offices/guests rooms -- are all located in the main central buildings. The members of the community have a complementary set of skills: physician, teacher, animal husbandry, farming, managing the business end of things, techie ("computer husbandry"? ), carpentry/plumbing/electrician, and not leastly healing arts (massage, acupuncture, Pilates, herbs/aromas/nutrition et al.).

The end of the petroeconomy is coming; our current way of life is near the end of its (oily) rope and soon not just the cars we drive but the fundamental organizing principles of our lives will undergo vast changes. (To what extent these are wrenching and abrupt remains to be seen...) If you don't know about Peak Oil then I suggest you get some basic knowledge of it. I highly recommend The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler. It's a fine primer on the ways our world will change when Peak Oil converges with Climate Change. For my purposes here, suffice it to say that soon we will not be driving an hour to/from work, and we will not be trucking/flying in produce from across the continent or apples from New Zealand. Wal Mart will crumble (YEEHAW!) because long supply lines from China will no longer be feasible. Commerce will become much more localized, as will food production -- and communities will have to reorganize around that fact.

I had the above dream long before I knew of Peak Oil or knew how imminent Climate Change was. I'll point out that I had this dream the month before 9/11 -- which among many other meanings for me is a potent point of demarcation between the World That Was and the World That's Coming. (If you read my Keeping Vigil posts, you'll remember the very first thing I said when I saw the second plane hit the WTC was "The world just changed...")

The Dreaming was laying down a vision for me, a sight of things to come. Note that the vision did not include dire portents or cataclysmic carnage (although we have seen many of those in the last five years, and there are surely more to come). No: what spirit showed me was the way through all that. A vision of hope -- which when misplaced is humanity's greatest vice; properly engaged, hope is all that gets us through the dark, sometimes.

I'll write more of this in time. For now, I merely wanted to put the dream out there, for myself and for whoever is reading. Also to allow anybody who's interested to follow the threads I laid down above re Peak Oil and Climate Change. And lastly, I wanted to make the point that if we put all our focus and energy on the negative aspects of the coming times, all we guarantee ourselves is a good view of the wreckage. But if we think about our options, and act intelligently (and keep our eyes and ears open to the guidance of Alpha/Omega), we can find our Way Through. (And not only Huge Earth-Shaking Tempests, but whatever blocks we encounter tomorrow in our so-called "mundane lives".)

Dream strong, everyone -- Tim