Learning to Swim

Disturbing dreams last night; in fact, they rattled me so much that I remember ordering the dream to stop at one point. Mom and Dad and I were all traveling, but they were going on ahead without me. We were able to keep in touch with each other from our various vehicles—they shifted from cars to motorcycles to planes—and I remember having “a few more things to do” before I could join them.

When they were on their plane, I could see it up in the sky, and its wings were suddenly ripped off, and the long cylinder started flipping and turning and swinging back and forth like some grotesque carnival ride. Then it stopped, clearly ready to plummet to earth, nose straight up in the air, and it started falling, heading right for me. I said, “Stop!” and made the plane freeze; it wasn’t that I was trying to change its (and my) fate, but I didn’t want to have to experience it in the dream. I wanted to go on to other dream-things.

And I did. There were several other sequences that I forget now, but there were also repeated images of me able to swim in what appeared to be puddles on the ground but which were surprisingly deep. They were the color of coffee with cream, and they were pleasantly warm but not at all hot. I swam bravely, boldly, with people looking at me, and I didn’t care, even though I’m pretty sure I was skinny-dipping.

When I got up this morning and looked at my Raven’s Brew coffee, I noticed the name of the variety: Resurrection Blend.

Today I cleaned out the refrigerator and scrubbed it down well. Not only did I get rid of the items that were past their prime, I got rid of anything that I would not be eating, which included some things that I had bought just for Mom. This evening I went to the local health food store, which has a small grocery section, and bought ingredients for miso soup (well, Adam has the miso, but I got everything except the bonito flakes, which I’ll probably find at an Asian grocery), then went to Publix and got ingredients for chicken stock and cabbage soup and more butternut squash soup.

I didn’t get anything just for Mom; I would always get her one or two things that she loved, just to brighten her day. This time I bought just for me. Coming home was especially lonely, and I thought of her and the dogs and, well, all those I’ve lost over the years, and blessed them all and cried a little for them. I know it was time; it’s always perfect timing for everyone involved, all of us joining the dance of the great Dao. But if we love someone, or if we love life, there is attachment, and breaking that attachment is hard. Buddha teaches us that attachment is the cause of suffering. But I think attachment, and thus suffering, tells us we’re alive, that we’re connected to one another, that we love that connection.

If Dao is the way water naturally runs downhill, finding its perfect path until it joins with the vast ocean of being, then I’m learning to swim. I may still be in the shallows, but it’s a pleasant and invigorating swim, and in its ripples I can hear whispers of rebirth.

Categories: Buddhism, Death, Dreams, Food and Diet | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Learning to Swim

  1. Of course, at no point, did Buddha ever say attachment, or suffering for that matter, was bad or could be avoided. Indeed, if we look at the word for it in Tibetan, we find it translates at friction. Life cannot be without friction. One cannot walk without friction.

    Some say the movement to end attachment is a way the Buddhas have of tricking us into realization. We cannot have it and we cannot not have it and, thus, like a koan, find a moment when realization strikes and a new center opens.

  2. indigo bunting

    I have nothing profound to add here, but I want to say that this is a beautiful post.

  3. That airplane dream…clearly your subconscious is doing its work, even while you sleep.

  4. Deloney

    This is a poem by Jim Chapson:

    Perhaps I was once a young Chinese scholar
    approaching the start of civil exams,
    my mind grown weary and sad from seclusion
    with books on syntax and poetic style.

    All that I knew were the mist-covered mountains
    and sweet white blossoms of mountain apples
    that grew in the valleys of my province.

    But I had been gone over six years
    busy with studies in the Heavenly City
    empty and thin despite my work.

    I showed my verses to an older poet
    who told me a truth I longed to believe:
    all knowledge is futile and barren
    which does not open the love of your friends.

  5. Mali

    Commenting on your blog is always intimidating. The quality of the comments before me is too high!

    It did seem appropriate to note, however, that I dreamed I met you two nights ago. All I can remember is that I knew who you were, and had to introduce myself as Mali, not as *****. (My blog self has permeated my self-conscious).

    I don’t remember your reaction. See, even the quality of my dreams are not up to standards set on this blog. Which is why I keep reading it.

  6. Mali, three times I have dreamed I met someone I’d been hearing about. Three times it came true.

    I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand. . . .

  7. Deloney: What a wonderful poem. Thank you. It reminds me of beautiful Chinese calligraphy, nuanced and graceful.

  8. indigo bunting

    Mali: I have met you more than once in my dreams (and once, possibly the night you were dreaming of Craig—hmmmm)! Blog life does in fact take over the subconscious at times.

  9. indigo bunting

    P.S. I have trouble commenting here too. I’m just not intellectual enough.

  10. Not intellectual enough? Pooh. Feh. Humbug. Balderdash. And several stronger terms that I can’t quite make myself type.

  11. For goodness sakes, you are all beginning to sound like me. Stop it before I discover I am not the only one who feels that way.

    For some (like me) this blog spurs them to write more, write better, hone their skills. For some (like me) this blog scares them away from actually writing for fear of not measuring up, sounding silly, being trite.

  12. So I should AND shouldn’t shut down the blog entirely?

  13. Well, certainly you should never feel responsible for how people react to an honest artistic endeavor. So the answer is neither. The answer is you should do with the blog as you have been, as you wish to, as you like, and everyone else has to deal with themselves as they see fit, as they can, as they wish.

    As for me, I shall doggedly attempt to use it to spur me forward. I shall deal with the dry spells as they come and listen, as I am able, to the sage advice of you and IB to write small and know that not each entry must the be best there ever was (OH YES it does!) and that short bits are good as well and excellent practice.

  14. Mali

    Eek. Now I see that I was so intimidated, I wrote selfconscious when I meant subconscious … or maybe not ..

  15. Jennie

    Well, my vote is that none of you regulars stop commenting or blogging. I enjoy all of you too much to want to give any of you up.

    I must confess that I don’t comment on any of your blogs more often because it is too intimidating – especially when others have beat me to it.

    This series of comments has made me consider starting an impostor syndrome support group for the readers of this blog, but I’m afraid that you all would realize that I don’t really belong there…

  16. I’d go to such a group but I’d be afraid of you all discovering I really didn’t qualify.

  17. See, I don’t have Impostor Syndrome. That’s for people who fear they might be an impostor. I know I’m the biggest impostor in the bunch.

    In fact, I’m not even writing any of this. I’ve hired ghostwriters. Now they have Impostor Syndrome, big time.

  18. indigobunting

    Thanks for outing me, dude.

  19. I didn’t name any names, did I?

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