The Illustration Friday word of the week is winter.
I don’t often remember dreams. Waking life is so insistent that the moment consciousness returns to that grey-matter cockpit behind my eyes, all the To Do’s and Oh No’s! come flooding back in. The gossamer veil of memory is gone before I can grasp its wispy skirt. I miss remembering my dreams, but comfort myself that they are still happening, working on the psyche as inexorably as rain on stone…
But this morning the phone rang early and, surprisingly, two dreams stuck around… In a large house on a rainy, winter morning, I look out my bedroom window. A wooden ruler lies on the muddy ground, and I make a mental note to retrieve it before rain renders it warped and useless. Running to answer a ringing phone in the dream, I see our roommate taping newly painted and stinky signs to every room’s door—baby-blue trees, Celtic knots and vine-y patterns. Her purposeful, Real Estate Salesperson persona and the impending Open House reminds me that Change hangs ominously in the air: we will have to move soon. In another room, my husband is ironing in his underwear, watching daytime soap operas. “So this is what you’ve been reduced to: a tiny room, ironing and watching daytime soaps?” I say to him. “Well, what can you do?” he replies, with a classic Jewish shrug.
The second dream has the same theme… I have been happily working in the yard for hours. My last task is to plant a field with onion seeds, and although it is late afternoon, the hot sun still hangs high in the sky. Later, while sitting in the middle of the field’s dark soil and newly planted rows, I blink…and the seeds have sprouted. Everywhere, tiny green shoots have popped up, regular as an army of soldiers. I blink again and they are taller, and then taller still, every time I blink. Their green stems begin to spread out like open arms. Every time I look, they are wider, taller. In the dream, I am suddenly overcome with a feeling of what Joel S. Goldsmith refers to as “the Is-ness of God.” A feeling of an inevitable, benign Process, beyond understanding, certainly beyond being resisted or stopped…perhaps closest to that expression, “the flow of Time.” But in this dream, it is so much more…so grand and all-encompassing.
I can feel that Flow moving through me, too, as I watch the onions growing. Suddenly (in the dream) I understand what Byron Katie writes about in her book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life. To paraphrase, This moment is exactly the way it is supposed to be…because it Is. How could it be anything else? All of the events of the past have lined up to create this moment as it is, and there is no changing this moment at all. Why resist? Maybe the next moment can be different, but this one has already been cast in cement…resisting What Is will be as ineffective as resisting the flow of Time. Then the phone rang (in real life) and I woke up.
Two dreams in a row on the subject of not resisting the flow of events… perhaps I should take this to heart?
Resistance is devious. It can take many forms: impatience, frustration, unhappiness, sadness, anger, fear, depression, being creatively blocked. But non-resistance is very different from succumbing or giving up…it is actually a participatory activity, like learning how to float…and there is great wisdom in it. Lao Tzu is so clear on this subject, translated here by Witter Bynner.
“…When a man is in turmoil, how shall he find peace, save by staying patient till the stream clears? How can a man’s life keep its course if he will not let it flow? Those who flow as life flows, know they need no other force: they feel no wear, they feel no tear, they need no mending, no repair.”
I’ve been feeling pretty worn-out lately from my habitual struggling and resistance to What Is. No surprise then that, upon seeing the new Illustration Friday’s word of the week, the phrase which came immediately to mind was, “Now is the winter of our discontent.” It seems that I’ve been sent a wake-up call in the form of two dreams: Stop Resisting!
Title Unknown (diptych, oil on canvas)