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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

To Step Without Feet: My Dream About Dying

I sleep to wake inside a bardic glow
A fretful state, this fear of letting go
To lose my self in what I cannot know

*  *  *  *  *

Last night I had a dream about dying. I've had a version of this dream many times before but never managed see it through to the moment of my actual demise.

In the past, whenever I've had this dream, it had always been my habit to wake up a moment or two before the trigger gets pulled or the car I'm riding in veers off the side of a cliff. But last night, when the firing squad cocked their rifles and the Generalissimo gave the order, I found the wherewithal to stare down the fusillade and die my dream death.

I suppose this is another way in which our dream life corresponds with our waking life because it takes a certain amount of courage to see a difficult situation through to completion.

Dream death as I experienced it last night can be compared to a core dump in which your nervous system lets go of whatever it is holding in storage.  This is consistent with the way death has been described in literature, such as the great story by Ambrose Bierce, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, where the protagonist sees his entire life flash before his eyes the moment he is hanged.   In last night's dream my life story was presented textually - as a series of flashcards that were revealed to me in quick succession.  It was like reading the chapter headings for the key events in my life. Learning to swim. First taste of falafel. Birth of a child. These cards were displayed with increasing rapidity until they became an unreadable blur, just the way a core dump scrolls by on the computer screen. Then my body convulsed a few times and the energy discharge gradually subsided. It was not the least bit unpleasant.  In fact, it felt exhilarating.

I awoke this morning completely refreshed and quite alive, ready to start over again with the memory stacks cleared and all synapses firing.

*  *  *  *  *

I had a chance to speak about this dream briefly with Dr. T, my friend and spiritual advisor, who also happens to be a psychotherapist.  The good Doctor was pressed for time and unable to delve deeply into dream interpretation but he did share with me the following poem by Rumi:

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
 to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. 
First to let go of life.  Finally to take a step without feet. 

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