22 August: Klemtu
On my secret sofa, I awoke from a good sleep and a good, if unusual, dream. In the dream I was looking at a crashed canoe (Spirit Dancer II, I think) and the rear end of the canoe was totally mashed underneath a large ship (possibly a ferry or cruise ship). I realised that I should have been in that part of the canoe and then it dawned on me that the only way I could be seeing this scene, and from above it floating in mid air, was if I was already dead. After a moment of panic I felt a great peace and relief come over me. All the things that had been going round in my mind and my heart finally stopped spiralling; I felt the warmth of the sun and the peace of my now unburdened spirit. I gave in and simply enjoyed the warmth while waiting for it all to fade or whatever would happen next. The waiting was very serene and not at all anxious. I didn’t anticipate anything – I just relaxed into the warmth.
After a moment the dream changed and I entered another kind of world where I could make things happen: I could change things just by willing. I saw a woman struggling with her food and I just moved it into her hand from a distance. I performed a number of these small kindnesses before I awoke. When I did wake up I felt very relaxed and had found a profound peace that still lingered. I realised that I did not fear death; and if I did not fear death I need not fear other things.
In the past few days I have been struggling with the fleeting nature of life and the ease with which life can be taken. The knowledge that I am alone (in the most profound meaning of the word) in this world has been haunting me. Most of those around seemed to be absorbed in petty orbits around claustrophobic concepts and clinging to illusory values – I felt alien to their world. I had the company of the many dead people from my past and the arbitrary morality of war to remind me that so called civilisation was only a thin layer of ice on top of a deep lake. However, this one dream seemed to change things. It confirmed the fragile nature of all life, and, in turn, showed me the pettiness and arbitrary nature of my fears. I felt strangely free. “How long could this last?” I thought to myself.
I went upstairs and greeted the new people upstairs with no intolerance, no irritation, and no real engagement and I felt centred and steady for the first time in many days.
Being in the wilderness has stripped my usual distractions (television, alcohol, sleep) and as a result I have had to face up to many thoughts and feelings that I would have otherwise buried or hidden from. Many of us avoid seeing clearly who we are, and it seems that we do this unconsciously as a survival mechanism: avoiding the truth avoids the pain usually associated with being honest with ourselves. How many of us want to admit that we feel alone, or ignored, or unloved, etc.? How many times have we replied ‘Alright’ when asked how we were, knowing that the question isn’t meant to be answered truthfully anyway? We avoid one another’s pain by using the universal buffer of politeness. And, I now believe, this is okay and we probably need that kind of safety feature – a little like an airbag in a car. However, I believe also that you have to tell someone about your suffering – someone who knows how to be silent. The internet is perfect for that because you can just rant away, like this, and any response from anyone will come with a delay – and by that time it’s out of the system and you feel better.
The forces of nature here are powerful – almost everything out here is eating and at risk of being eaten at the same time – or simply doomed to eventually rot away or be squashed unseen by the foot from heaven. It is the same with humans. The wilderness has given me a growing awareness of my own impermanence – I will die. And, until then all is really unknown and temporary and therefore exciting and fresh. I am very inspired by the nursery tree: that’s a tree that has died but now is the host to many varieties of other species. There are lots of nursery trees here and they almost all have had mini jungles growing on them. Perhaps when I die I’ll leave something behind to nourish others – perhaps not. The nursery tree has taught me the importance of action that leaves something for others.
I am also inspired by the whales and porpoises: they travel the waters, comfortable with the flow and moving with or against it as they choose. They have told me that I can similarly go with the flow of life or against it – as I choose, and I can dive to deep depths or make dramatic gestures on the surface. It’s not so good for a whale to stay still though.
I’ll write more about today in the next post – gotta go and surf the waves of life for a little while.