Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unearned Ecstasy

I lie in bed beside my husband and I cannot sleep. I'm twitchy, and I know I am disturbing him, and he has to get up at 4:21 AM to go to work. I try to lie still, but it is hard. Almost impossible. I hold myself rigid in an attempt not to wiggle.

Finally, I drift off to sleep. I dream I am flying along and above the surface of a huge rippling sphere, which seems to be made of gently billowing silk-like substance. The iridescent colors of the surface of the sphere change and undulate with the movement of the "fabric." I explore and experience, color, movement, shape, love. I am pure experience. I am ecstasy. I am joy. I am delighted by the sphere and my experience of it. I am so ecstatic and so joyful that I cannot contain my joy. I am bursting with it, and it awakens me.

I am awake again; I cannot sleep.

I lie awake and watch the clock. I pretend I am falling asleep. I pretend I am sleeping, but I am not. After an hour of watching the clock, I give up and get out of bed. Ironically, I was at the doctor's today, for insomnia. Decided to go 12 weeks without meds. AK.

I decide that in the dream, I am an angel. The sphere is my angelic (heavenly) experience of God, of Godliness. Not my only experience, but one experience. Sometimes, when I am dreaming, it is as if I slip into another ongoing reality. The feeling in this dream was that this was a tiny fragment of something much larger.

I think about my teachers, always talking about unearned ecstasy, and I wonder when I did to "earn" the ecstasy of that dream. My teachers were talking about the unearned ecstasy of a poorly written poem. They did not necessarily mean that we had to earn the experience of ecstasy. Still, I heard so much about it that I cannot help but wonder if I have to earn it in life. I don't believe it needs to be earned (in life, not poetry), but I realize that I have been struggling with moral issues all day. Some larger, some smaller. Could the dream be a result of that struggle, or might I have been having a small seizure of some sort? (I read that many ecstatic nuns and monks had seizures that created their ecstatic experiences).

One of the issues I was struggling with will seem very minor to many people, but it is not minor to me. Henrietta called today and wanted me to buy a goldfish for Kit. One of Kit's goldfish had died and Henrietta told Kit that the fish had gone one a trip, like Kit's Dad in Iraq. Hoboy. I don't like deception. I think children should be told the truth about small deaths so they can more readily handle larger ones—and so that they will experience truth-telling. I didn't want to be part of a lie. I also didn't want to be responsible for killing another fish. The one that died was probably the one they were keeping in a beta bowl (very tiny) in the bathroom without a window. I'd die too. I didn't want to agree to it, but I said I would. Henrietta said, "It's only 15 cents." As if that were the point. It's not. Fish have a life. Kit needs to learn to respect life. To take care of life. AK.

Tonight, after dinner, shopping and putting away the groceries, Biker Buddy and I drove, as Henrietta had instructed, to Meier's, twenty minutes away, and bought a 15-cent goldfish. I pointed to the very one—the healthiest looking one in a tank of rather sickly looking goldfish. And then, we bought a little two-gallon tank with a light and a filter AND a real live plant to put inside it. It all cost well-over twenty dollars. A lot more than 15 cents, but that wasn't the point. Then we spent a lot of time assembling it all.

It's a plastic tank and I worried about out-gassing of formalin into the water from the plastic poisoning the fish, so we—Biker Buddy, that is—washed everything very well. I would like to replace 10% or more of the water every day until all the formalin has out-gassed, or at least until the amount out-gassing diminishes, but I won't have the tank. I won't be able to control what Kit or Henrietta feeds the fish or how well they keep the tank clean. I won't be able to control whether the fish I bought and now feel responsible for lives (not that I could anyway, but I could try) or what kind of stories Henrietta tells Kit about the fate of the other fish or the life of this one. Or what she says about where the tank came from in the fish's imaginary travels. Moral dilemma number one. Only one of several moral dilemmas today, but I will skip the others.

I realize very few people care about the life of a 15-cent goldfish. One could argue that if I were concerned about that life, what about the life or a mosquito I slap on my arm? I didn't used to—I used to refuse to kill mosquitoes—and in fact, I often still just brush them away. But when there are lots and I get agitated, I do kill them—it's a form of "self-defense." Or whatever. I'm not perfect—far far from it. And I do worry about killing mosquitoes, too. I worry about the tiny insects I inadvertently step on when I'm walking. I can't do anything about it, but when I think about it, I feel sad.

I once had a vision. I was sitting in a park in broad daylight, and I wasn't asleep. I'm not religious. But Jesus came to me. He told me I was forgiven forever. I did not believe him. I don't feel like it. In my dream, I was in "heaven" and I was "an angel." I was gloriously forgiven for everything; I was ecstatic. In some very small way, I earned it trying to save that goldfish. Or not. Maybe that wasn't it at all.

If indeed I deserve ecstasy, if I earned it, why am I awake with insomnia and no sleep at all at 2 AM? I don't, I assure you—ecstasy is a gift! It has to be, none of us deserve it! No sleep at all? Well, I was probably asleep at least 2 minutes to have that dream. It wasn't much more, because I was awake at 12:40 and awake at 12:43 and in between, I had that dream. The Ecstatic Sphere. The earned or unearned Ecstatic Sphere. A small gift in a long night.

PS: Biker Buddy suggested that my dream may have been stimulated by one of the pieces we saw at the Hot House Exhibit at Cranbrook Art Museum. The picture doesn't do it justice. It was very colorful and multicolored, though not a sphere. I loved it! While I was viewing it, several times during my visit, I wanted to go inside it, but was afraid to, because the mean curators there often yell if they think you're doing something inappropriate. It seemed obvious to me that you were meant to go inside it. It you click the image, you can also see some of the other pieces we viewed at the exhibit.


BerryBird said...

I am glad your dream brought the small pleasure of the Ecstatic Sphere, because the rest of the night sounds quite dreadful. I am sorry Henrietta and Kit cannot understand about the goldfish. I was going to say it could be cultural diffeences, but I think that is not wholly accurate as many people from your same background would not understand, either. I take it Biker Buddy was sympathetic? It sounds like you provided the means for a much better life for this fish than a beta bowl, anyway. Yay!

Nadine said...

I still feel sad about a goldfish that I bought (it was one of the big, more expensive kind with the bubbly pop eyes) that I inadvertently killed because of soapy water.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Yes, I have these all night vigils with some sporadic regularity. WAHN! They aren't fun.

And wahn for the poor goldfish who died! And wahn for the frog who died a similar death at the MOST. Boo hoo, I hate stuff like that.

Biker Buddy was not exactly sympathetic. He was sort of annoyed--not at me. But he was willing to try to help save the goldfish's life, for whatever it's worth--I hope it helps. This AM, I changed a portion of the water, because I am worried about the outgassing from the new plastic.

The fish seems OK. I hope they have good quality food--I wanted to buy some but believe it or not, they had no goldfish food where we bought the goldfish!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Rocky doesn't understand all the fuss.

bluerose9062 said...

What a cool dream! I bet your mind [and body] was happy to be asleep, if only for two minutes.

I'm not a very religious person either, but I do recall a scripture that sais, "he that is faithful in what is least, is also faithful in much". Life is precious, and lying is serious. The fact that this is not a "minor" issue to you, sais something about you and your convictions. That's a good thing ;].

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Thanks, Blue Rose, for understanding. And visiting! :-D Mary