Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Magic 1: Tiny Turtles, Too Much Water and the Puzzle-patterned Ice

Tiny turtles and the Giant eyeball
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            Tiny Turtles and too much water

I am very excited to discover a hatching of tiny turtles, the size of small ladybugs. In fact, at first, I think they are insects, and then am amazed and excited to see that they are turtles. I put them in a bowl with shallow water and a few days later, they have doubled in size and are now the size of large ladybugs. I come back late and someone has filled up their bowl with a lot of water. I carefully drain it out and get a piece of paper, with the intention of writing, "It is essential to not give the turtles too much water, as it damages their shells if they cannot dry out”. But as I am bending over to get paper and pen, hundreds of small things fall out of my pockets including bunches of little Allen wrenches and other small tools and I kneel on the floor to pick them up. Meanwhile, I get distracted by noticing that one of the plants on the windowsill with the turtles is almost out of water.
At the age of 69 and 1/2, I am still looking for magic in my life. The tiny turtles in my dream were magical.

Question: how can we create a sense of "magic" in our lives? Happy surprises? A sense of wonder?

Alone at Pier Park, I lean over the edge of the observation tower looking at the way the ice has cracked and refrozen like pieces of a puzzle, with raised ridges between them. The sun shines through hazy clouds, reflecting on the broken and rippled ice and I feel a sense of peace, contentment and aliveness reminiscent of that which I experience in my best dreams.

Puzzled ice at Pier Park

The feeling is both fleeting and pervasive, fleeting in that when I resume walking, I have the pain in my hip (though it seems somewhat lessened, knock on wood), and the worries about the things I need to accomplish, but pervasive in that it informs my thoughts, my heart, my day and makes it easier to have similar experiences. It opens the heart-mind, and now I feel tearful. I sit in a cushioned chair by the Pier park building and the low sun glances along the patterned bricks with their salt stains and I feel so very much alive and opened. It's almost painful. A sort of joyful pain.

And then a voice inside me says, you can't stay here; you have stuff you need to do.

And the magic and deep awareness fades. But I don't go. Instead, I look at the brilliant green of the moss between the bricks, lit by the low sun, the tiny abstract shadows from the slight unevenness of the bricks and minuscule movements of the erect strands of tan grass in the bitty breeze, vibrating as if touched by the faintest breath. And the magic returns.

This is the magic, I think, this opening of heart-mind, of awareness that fills me with a rush of pleasure and pain. It is like the feelings I get in my best dreams, and then there are the spilled tools, the scattered Allen wrenches, the too much to do and the too little water or too little time, and I have to get up and go do what I must do. I will take with me mental snapshots of joy and hope that continue to bubble up and inform my day and my life.

Images: A quick mouse-sketch of a ladybug-size turtle on the end of a finger being observed by a "giant" (to the turtle) eye, and the patterned ice today at Pier Park.
This, I think, is the first of the three "magic" stories for January 2016. The third one is here.
These experiences remind me of a story I once wrote for Sara that I want to rewrite and illustrate for Frankie and Alden. The Golden Box, or something like that, I wonder where it is. I'd like to work on it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sudden Total Darkness

Moneta and my grandson
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I am riding at night in the car with Keith driving. Street lights cast pools of light into the street, bar signs flash different colors, and store lights and house windows are lit up.  It’s a normal night driving scene.  Suddenly, everything goes pitch black.  No scrap of light shines anywhere.  The quality of the darkness has changed, from deep transparent darkness to a hard opaque darkness.  I am frightened, afraid I’ve gone blind, had a stroke or even died, and say aloud, “what happened?  Can you see anything?”  

Keith says no, but keeps driving.  Then I think something has happened to both of us, or all of us, some terrifying global change.

“You can’t see?  Can you see anything?”  

“No,” he days, and keeps driving.

“Please stop driving!” I say, but he does not.  I can feel that we are on pavement, but what about other cars?  What if they can’t see, either?  What about obstructions, turns, etc.?  It’s not like feeling your way along a path through the woods at night.  That is difficult enough, but this—this seems suicidal.  “Please stop driving,” I beg, over and over, but he keeps on going.

I wake up in a sweat of fear.  Monday, January 11, 2016

What does this remind you of?

The first thing that comes to mind is a general, pervasive worship of light and a fear of darkness.  Night vapors.  Blindness.  Death.  Predators in the woods, predators in the city.  I sometimes believe in a positive darkness, a deep shining, singing darkness.  A supportive and loving darkness.  I had written about that a few days ago, but that was a different darkness than this one.

If a tree falls in the woods . . . It seems to me that when one dies, one sees no darkness, because one needs perception to perceive darkness.  And in death, there is no perception, except perhaps in the few moments before brain starvation/death.  Of course, I do not know we don’t perceive darkness in death.  I only imagine/believe that is most likely what happens.

What happens to perception during a stroke?  What does a person experience who is having a stroke?  Nothing?  No perception?  Darkness?  Lights?

The dream also reminds me of my fear of driving or riding in a car, especially under certain circumstances, and how Keith often drives too fast (for my comfort) and does not slow down, sometimes, when I ask him to, or does other scary things while driving, e.g., racing other cars.  I hate driving in bad weather (icy, slippery roads), or riding in a car when the roads seem slippery.
I sometimes feel our lives are out of control, careening down a street through the darkness to who knows where with only a shallow pretension that things are progressing in an orderly and acceptable way.

It also occurs to me that, in the dream, Keith could represent the part of me that continues with “suicidal” behavior, such as eating too much or eating foods that make me sick.  Everyone I know, including myself, makes unhealthy and death-inviting choices fairly regularly.
Dreams feel real and important to me because of the intensity of the emotions and the often heightened senses and perceptions; that is, sometimes, I inhabit dreams more fully and deeply than I inhabit portions of my life, which seem somewhat dull in comparison.  Chores, tasks and daily activities (e.g.: sorting through ML’s old clothes, making an omelet, washing the dishes, brushing my teeth) often don’t have the same depth of experience as some of my dreams.  The dreams tend to focus in closely on the more powerful (scary, upsetting, or joyous) moments.
I can’t remember if I mentioned that we were at Eastland Mall when a man was shot and killed, and we observed security guards pushing families into stores, the closing of the mall, people running (one guy running toward the closed portion of the mall very fast, most everyone else running away), racing cop cars, etc.  I did not feel terribly frightened.  Consciously, I only felt somewhat worried.  We were told shots had been fired and of course, what came to mind, in part, were mass shootings.  But that night, I had two dreams, or one interrupted dream, where the shooter was chasing me through the mall.  I woke up scared, walked around, went back to bed, and the dream continued, with me climbing up rough cliffs to escape the shooter.  The dream was much more terrifying than what I was consciously aware of at the mall—was some part of me more scared than I realized?