I have this dream every once in a while. The context and the details are always different, but the takeaway is always the same. It always haunts me when the dream comes. I know it is the universe sending me some pretty clear instructions, but still, once I wake up, I still can’t quite bring myself to believe.
In the dream I was listening to an old woman tell a story about the time when a tsunami destroyed her town coastal town. As she was telling the story, a shoreline appeared, and I realized that this was the shoreline of her town, and that I had entered her story. I knew that the water was coming and would soon wash over the shore in a forceful wave. Other people knew too, and were running around panicking. Suddenly, a concrete wall appeared in the water, and as I walked away from the shore to see what was on the other side of the wall, I heard them.
They were in a large pile, propped up against the wall, facing the enormous ocean, the water lapping at their navels. Small toddlers were holding tiny babies in their arms crying, trying with all of their might to hold the babies up above the waterline. I was stricken by terror. How would I save them? In a frenzy I started picking them up one, two, three at a time and running to the shore. Screaming for someone to help me. But it was too little, too late, and slowly, I would see the babies slip under the water.
I would awaken with a start, catch my breath, and slowly fall back asleep only to reenter the dream. Each time in the dream I would try something new, and would fail, and would awaken with a start, catch my breath, and slowly fall back asleep only to reenter the dream. I became more and more lucid in the dream with each cycle. I understood that I would continue to have the dream all night long until I figured out how to save them. I watched them die over and over again. I could not escape the dream.
Eventually, exhausted, I stood still in the water, and I looked at the babies, and I just…….willed them out of the water. They rose into the air and hovered above the water, screaming and kicking, and safe.
I knew, as I always do by the end of the dream, that the task is not to run harder or jump higher, but to somehow just do, without any effort at all. It is as if by giving up on the effort all together, the work is done.
When I awoke in the morning I felt exhausted, and sad. I felt overwhelmed by a sense of grief. As I moved into my waking life I realized that my days sometimes feels much like my work on the beach, moving with urgency from breakfast dishes to school bags and commutes and day care and work and back. If only I could find the grace and will myself to hovering, even if screaming and crying, safe and still above the water.