Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy.
Lost in a train of thought, trying to catch forty winks, I’m jolted by a nagging premonition of the approaching tunnel… don’t fret, whispers the angel… you lose in worry… the story makes method...
With distance in the hands of the gods, I do what many travellers do, go up on deck, find a quiet spot and let the mind drift… searching for an answer out on the horizon, an answer that begets a question that begs another. I’m pondering the equation, relaxing, with a handle on the fix, when a terrifying thought hits into view, knocks the skittles for six, then shoots off, like a roadrunner, in two directions at once. And that, I tell myself, is a warning shot!
Some internal mappings can drive a person to distraction, while other such plotting set a global stage.
Cap that Houdini, twirl it around… you won’t escape this time… take the sedative… or we will be forced to constrict you the hard way. Thoughts can get rough, mean, razor blade angry, spiralling out of control, sucking up the best of attentions… blink, and that circle of thought morphs small, revolves wispy quick, balloons big, then whips-thin to a width and trails off before you can catch the tail. A heart forgone endures nothing but anguish, while a change of heart can release a formation of thought so intricate, so focused, the microdot turns an atom.
Left to their own, free to roam, thoughts can seem feral, impulsive, pull them together, rein them in, the deliberation hits on a plan… a plan that remains dormant, unless it manifests as structure, a structure that maps out legislation… thoughts reason… reasoning makes law, laws define boundaries, build principals… principles that lay claim to sovereign, to governance, to kingdom… to a realm of unparalleled riches… allegiance and adoration from across a nation… with cause for celebration.
A long way from the party, chasing the monkey, bemoaning the loss, searching for reason in tree lined suburbs, a blur of easy joggers, washing lines, sparkling homes and crewcut lawns… up one way down the next, I made it through to the outskirts, only to see my primate friend, on the other side of the road, disappear down a narrow path, through some thicket and into the jungle. Catching breath, I picked up a sturdy stick, blundered on, slashing and kicking at the undergrowth, keeping apace until I stumbled, sweat drenched and browbeaten, upon a small clearing in a pool of light amid the dark, damp forest floor.
With the shriek of the monkey out of reach, unstuck, alone, in need of rest and a safer distance from any predators that might be lurking, I grabbed a wooded tendril, reaching down from the gigantic girth of a magnificent kapok tree, swung up to a low-lying bough, then clambered upwards toward the canopy.
Halfway to the top, tired to the bone, I settled on a bed of leaves, spread over a broad passel of branches woven and grafted together through a century of weather. A shallow burr, next to the trunk, wide enough and feathered with a perfect amount of moss, invites my head to rest on a damp pillow… cool.
Shafts of light, dancing across the underbelly of green, brought my attention to leaves and hanging vines, the likes of which I’d never have imagined if I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes. Islands of ferns, orchids, cacti, bromeliads, mosses, and other such plants, throwing out root tendrils to airborne humus and any slight surface, appeared to be defying gravity, levitating in space. Frogs, cicadas, howls, shrieks, trills, the buzz of pollinators and triumphant birds, brought the noise of the parade to ear. Wasted on the pungent smells, caressed by a soft warm breeze, a subtle kindness cooling the contours of my face… swaying to rhythms of the interior… heartfelt in paradise, my eyes closed, turning the cacophony to an incantation… within seconds… I was drifting in a sea of dreams.
In exile… playing out on the Spanish Main… I was a corporal, with other unlikely recruits, sometime friend to Richard Hawkins, marauder, pirate and privateer, El Draque, the slave trader, naval officer and explorer… I’d run with the woodsman and those seadogs, staking our claims to the new world, outsmarting and kicking the Spanish conquistadors into retreat for our place in the Americas…. there was a chief… Metacomet, aka King Philip, of the Wampanoag ancestry… it was always the same dream… sitting with the King… having been setup as a hero, I’d find myself slapped down and dragged off as a traitor, then waking up, as I was about hauled up to the yardarm from the end of a rope.
Like the firecracker shock of a hard slap, a howler suddenly leapt out of nowhere, screeching and shouting… you’re an imbecile, a buffoon, good for nothing, lazy and in the wrong place… so unexpected I stood straight to attention, smacked the mosquito and fell out of my tree!
Back in the world… dazed, shaken, confused, but not clueless… fact, fiction, head cracked, or not, nothing broken, except my pride… I drank in the air, breathing life into the body, until the heart and mind came together, calmer and in one place.
I wasn’t dead. I felt the ground beneath my feet to be dynamic, bore witness to the ebb and flow of nature’s fluctuations. The earth was alive, and so was I! I bowed to the sun, in gratitude for rain. Without the dynamism of earth, nay, the universe, there would be no gravity… no gravity, no landing, no weight, no feet on the ground… streams, rivers, plantings, mountains, trees, seas, plains, houses… everything would fly off.
Past, present and future, no matter who or what I conquered, whatever the distance, by foul means or fair, however high I climbed, however low I fell, whatever beauty might prevail, unless I lined up the crosshairs to the all-encompassing vastness, a mass of conflict followed wherever I laid my head.
Favouring one category over the other, the adult’s realm, remained as ever, repetitious and unforgiving… the ship’s captain gave the order… felled and felled again, in merciless succession, until I’d taken enough hits, enough to replicate and inflict the same tyranny of division I was running away from.
The King says in my dream… you ok, but you no hear the broken man. As it was from the first day in the nursery, closing my heart to the world, was the lesson I never really saw coming… make no mess, I heard him say… then cause for celebration.
Painful as it was, crashing to the ground put my life into stark perspective. I was back in the small seat, between heaven and earth, blown open wide and deep… a correlation of clear insight… tears, laughter and all manner of symmetry… making this pillar of human life.