Tag Archives: Dream

What Dreams May Come

Fortune Teller2

When I was all of seventeen I accompanied some friends to a carnival in Santa Ana. One of the girls in our little troop insisted that we each pay to have our fortunes read by a Gypsy fortuneteller that accompanied the carnies. Well, I never put much cotton in the idea that a person could predict the future and resisted but was finally pushed inside as the last of our group, all of which had previously exited her tent with smiles on their faces.

Inside the dark, yet colorful, tent I was encouraged to sit and offer my palm. The dark woman took one look at it and any vestige of mirth that might have been on her face immediately disappeared and was replaced by a look that might have been called horror. She then proceeded to consult the cards I selected from a Tarot deck and then some runes with peculiar markings that she had me warm inside my cupped hands and then release as if I was throwing dice. None of this brought a smile to her face but in the end she told me that she was sorry but I was going to die before my twenty-first birthday.

Now I often wondered if one of my so-called friends at the time slipped her ten or twenty dollars and said: “When Sam comes in you tell him he’s going to die soon.” I cornered them with that accusation and they all swore “cross my heart” they didn’t. Okay, if they didn’t then why would a Gypsy woman who made a living giving people good news would tell me I would be dead within the next three years? It didn’t make sense to me and after a period of what might be called grief or depression I decided I wasn’t going to let her fortune change my life, which is not to say it didn’t cross my mind a lot over the next several years.

I recently went to an Asian restaurant with my wife and two youngest children (21 and 19) and when we opened our fortune cookies my little slip of paper was blank on both sides. On our previous visit I had opened my fortune cookie only to discover that it was empty. Both of those incidents took me back to that Gypsy fortuneteller from so long ago and this past Sunday my wife and I had lunch at the Canton Palace and when I went to open my fortune cookie it was with hesitant trepidation. I opened the cookie, found a fortune, and read: “You will be healthy and wealthy in your old age.” That was so much better then no future at all.

In A Course in Miracles we are told that we are living in a dream and none of what we perceive is real. My friend Jerrie, who is in his eighties and refers to himself as a recovering Catholic, says that we are really lying on a grassy bank beside a river in Heaven having a dream about not being an eternal spirit. At sixty I have been thinking more about the end that is inevitable and, like Hamlet, I wonder if we will still be able to dream when the heart and brain stop functioning but the analytical side of my intelligence says no while the hopeful side wonders maybe. Then there is that other self who worries that what happens after death is exactly what we believe will happen. That’s just too frightening but would make a good story in the vein of The Lathe of Heaven.

In the Course we are told that Death has no power unless we choose to identify with it and that Death is not real. Yet, I look around me and I know that it is oh so real and oh so inevitable. Thirty-eight years ago tomorrow, the thirteenth of December, my cousin and best friend Carol took her own life and some seven years before that my dear friend Marsha had had enough of life and at sixteen she stepped in front of a truck to end the pain.

Are they dreaming now?

Time Travel

Last night I went time traveling and I didn’t even need a Tardis. I awakened in August of 1971 inside that old familiar roller skating rink in Santa Ana. Mozart was playing, the lights were low and strobing, I was skating backwards, and sweet blue-eyed Jennie was smiling at me as we sashayed around the rink holding tight to one another. Round and around we danced on white rented roller skates, content to glide slowly and evenly, disdaining speed, and allowing ourselves to be immersed within the simple symphony of youth.

When I was young and love apart
I drove into the night
I stopped to skate with old Mozart
And stepped into her light
She touched my hand and then my heart
And held my fingers tight

And then Jennie kissed me
She took me by the hand
She gave me love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

We rode our ponies through the hills
And out along the shore
Rolled in the sand and had some thrills
Enjoying native lore
Bounced off breakers and took some spills
While learning to explore

And then Jennie kissed me
She took me by the hand
She gave me love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

While empty seashells tumbled
And the winter slowly stumbled
I watched her footprints wash away
And smiled through the salty spray

And remembered
Back when Jennie kissed me
And took me by the hand
She’d given love I’d never known
She helped me be a man

Umm, I remember
I will always remember
When Jennie kissed me

May all your time travels be as sweet.

Time Travel

I returned abruptly to the present at 6:08 am. It was painful to say the least. In fact, I continued to lie in my bed until 7:30 hoping to reclaim just a small piece of the wonder that I had been enjoying.

I was way back in the yesterdays with my first best friend, the first person I remember loving, and that one person that once asked me for something that I did not possess at the time. In last night’s escape we journeyed on the back of my time machine from the southern Arizona desert, where a praying monk once blessed us while bats gathered nectar from the night blooming flowers of the saguaros, to the Canadian Rockies where Alberta and British Columbia are divided by some of the most spectacular scenery on our little planet. What a Joy it was to pilot my Magna through the mountains with her once again holding tight about my waist, combating the wind by shouting into my ear on the Trans-Canadian Highway; Yoho, Golden, Kimbasket Lake, and her long hair blowing in the wind. Freedom, as it was meant to be.

I once read an article by a physicist who claimed that time travel was theoretically possible but it would require more energy to pull off than was contained within our visible universe. That is probably a very good thing as I loathe imagining how much more we could screw up with our simian brains. I for one have never really been able to wrap my mind around this dimension of time because, from my perspective, there is only the eternal Now and this human construct of time is simply a yardstick by which we measure the distance between events.

But, I’m thankful for my little time travels when I’m fortunate to be blessed by them. To be able to once again enjoy the company of those whose corporal experiences were cut way too short is nothing short of a miracle. Carol took her own life on Monday, December 13, 1976 and there is not a day goes by that I don’t have a thought and a prayer for my first best friend.

Escape

Concealed from life in dreary black linen
Abject love lies in endless decay.
Robbed of life by that curious demon,
On shadowy wings of Cimmerian gray.

Legended by ancestral states, to usher
Journeys to unfamiliar lands, where helpless
On the shores of your Stygian master,
You yearn for love you cannot possess.

Haunted by a silent phantom, my vague
Apparition of virgin splendor
Resurrects anew our relative plague
Released forever from social dolor.

In suicide a life is squandered,
Surrendered, but, forever remembered.

Samuel Thomas Nichols
January 31, 1979

Know Thy Selves

I did not sleep well at all Tuesday night, which is something that I frequently read and hear is a curse of the American population. However, I suspect that limitation is part of our egocentric nature and that human beings around the planet share in this torment. In any event, I had a number of vivid dreams, if they can be called that because it was not that I was in a deep or REM sleep by any means. It seemed to me that a part of my consciousness remained completely awake and alert to everything that was going on about me; my wife’s steady breathing, my son coughing in the other room, a cat meowing far in the distance, and the ever-present insect chorus. Then again, there was that part of me who was at the same time exploring new dreamscapes that were occasionally pleasant, often disturbing, but always vividly alive.

The last of the dreamscapes that plagued me began just after my wife walked out of the bedroom at 6:00 am and I tumbled back into that realm of altered perspectives. The dream itself was nothing less that a hodgepodge of disjunct scenes bringing together distant places and dissimilar persons into a tapestry that could only be woven by the fears and desires of our subconscious selves that we have pushed into the shadows of neglect. The dream concluded with myself, the hostess (with whom I had an emotional attachment), and two waitresses, hiding within the storeroom of a restaurant (not unlike a Cracker Barrel) under siege by several heavily armed men intent upon robbing the establishment and its customers. In my dream the others were doing their best to keep our whereabouts unknown while we used our phones to summon help. Unfortunately, we were discovered and the dream ended as we were about to be executed for our impertinence at 6:44 am.

I rose and prepared a simple breakfast that was nothing more than a cup of black coffee along with an English muffin with peanut butter and zucchini jam. My mind analyzed, or perhaps obsessed over, the dream while I; carried the jar of instant coffee to the breakfast table instead of the mug of hot coffee, searched for my daily vitamin and other supplements in the refrigerator instead of the cupboard where they are kept, and – you probably get the idea, my many selves where so preoccupied with the phantasmagoria of the dream that my daily-practiced routines became as disturbed as the dream itself.

Our many selves? Just how many of us are there? Freud was intrigued by the unconscious aspect of self and wrote about the id, ego, and super-ego. Jung recognized the plurality of self and proposed a collective conscious. I believe, however, that both men, along with many others, recognized that the multiplicity of self had a long history and was well known to the peoples of the most ancient civilizations and, I would warrant, that it even went back far into the prehistorical realms of humanity.

When I was in the early stages of wrapping my mind around being a teenager I spent much of my time immersed in angers that I never quite understood. I’ve been told that a lot of it had to do with the hormonal changes that occur when a boy slowly metamorphoses into a man. There may be a lot to that but there was so much more at the time. The Viet Nam war was in full swing and on the news every night. My neighbors from the community were dying in a place called Southeast Asia that I still knew so little about. The man from Yorba Linda toppled The Great Society and I was making discoveries.

One of the first of these I made at this time was a red-covered paperback on the rack at Bogg’s Rexall Drugstore entitled The Poetry of Ho Chi Minh and I discovered our hated enemy was also a beautiful poet, among many other things. And, I discovered other things like: Transcendental Meditation, the Buddha, Confucius, the Dao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, and the Bhagavad Gita. But, my most important discovery at the time, and one that has followed me through all the decades to come, was Kahlil Gibran.

The first book I read by Kahlil Gibran was The Prophet and I was hooked. Others followed as fast as I could acquire them. I was continuously marveled by the man from Lebanon, shed tears within The Broken Wings, and was enthralled with The Madman, especially his parable of The Seven Selves, which I continue to reread to this day. In this parable each of the seven selves, which comprise the consciousness of Man, believes themselves to be the worse off of the lot. The parable concludes with:

But the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things.

I do not think I will ever know the truth of just how many of us reside within this temporal shell we call a body but I do believe that Gibran was on the right track when he upped the number to seven, and in his parable of the pomegranate, to perhaps hundreds or even thousands. But one thing I can say is that the concluding sentence from the parable of The Seven Selves has haunted me for decades.


For those of you who may not be familiar with the aforementioned parable I an including it here.

The Seven Selves

In the silent hour of the night, as I lay half asleep, my seven selves sat together and thus conversed in whispers:

First Self: Here, in this madman, I have dwelt all these years, with naught to do but renew his pain by day and recreate his sorrow by night. I can bear my fate no longer, and now I must rebel.

Second Self: Yours is a better lot than mine, brother, for it is given me to be this madman’s joyous self. I laugh his laughter and sing his happy hours, and with thrice-winged feet I dance his brighter thoughts. It is I that would rebel against my weary existence.

Third Self: And what of me, the love-ridden self, the flaming brand of wild passion and fantastic desires? It is I the love-sick self who would rebel against this madman.

Fourth Self: I, amongst you all, am the most miserable, for naught was given me but the odious hatred and destructive loathing. It is I, the tempest-like self, the one born in the black caves of Hell, who would protest against serving this madman.

Fifth Self: Nay, it is I, the thinking self, the fanciful self, the self of hunger and thirst, the one doomed to wander without rest in search of unknown things and things not yet created; it is I, not you, who would rebel.

Sixth Self: And I, the working self, the pitiful labourer, who, with patient hands, and longing eyes, fashion the days into images and give the formless elements new and eternal forms — it is I, the solitary one, who would rebel against this restless madman.

Seventh Self: How strange that you all would rebel against this man, because each and every one of you has a preordained fate to fulfil. Ah! could I but be like one of you, a self with a determined lot! But I have none, I am the do-nothing self, the one who sits in the dumb, empty nowhere and nowhen, when you are busy re-creating life. Is it you or I, neighbours, who should rebel?

When the seventh self thus spake the other six selves looked with pity upon him but said nothing more; and as the night grew deeper one after the other went to sleep enfolded with a new and happy submission.

But the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things.

Kahlil Gibran
From: The Madman
1918