One of those dreams.
Dreams can be a testing ground.
For countless years I’d had recurring dreams where I was alone inside a massive, wood house, we’re talking cathedral like big. Endless hallways, lots of repair needed and haunted to the hilt.
Seriously haunted. If you’re at least a tiny bit like me, you know ghosts are real.
Anyway, to cut to the chase. Dream telling can be the death knell of most conversation. So I’ll move it.
About thirty years ago, during a ‘big house ‘dream, I was at the start of an endless , dark, high-ceilinged hallway. It was a necessity for me to walk down to the other end in order to escape the house. Escaping the house was a frequent experience in this dream.
I carried a knight’s sword and moved forward, scared out of my soul. Heavy, ragged breathing, low growls from behind doors, unidentifiable noises greeted me as I approached the start of the hallway. No sooner had I started down that the doors along the hall opened in a flash from which hideous, impossible to describe creatures attacked me.
My sword came to my aid. Yes, I was scared to death, almost couldn’t move. This, despite knowing it was a dream. In this ‘big house’ dream, somehow I always knew it was just that, a dream. But instead of lessening the fear factor for whatever reason, it only made it worse.
It made it feel much more real, as it was really me, awake, going down these musky hallways and passed those vast scary, empty rooms.
The creatures attacked and one by one I was able to slay them, cut them deep. I progressed quickly, and I felt my heart and chest swelling in joy and victory. My sense of courage, oddly, just increased as I progressed. There were some ten violent encounters. The sword moved easily in my hands. No debilitating sluggishness as can sometimes happen in those dreams. Until finally I reached the end, my escape, killed off the last horrific creature and I was still asleep, yet fully awake. I was smiling from ear to ear, eyes welled up with joy!
This one dream ‘carried‘ me for at least a week. All I had to do was recall it, the slayings, the progress in movement and levels of increasing courage. Just bringing it to mind it raised me up in a way that gave me a kind of assurance. You can do this I’d say, you’ve got this, big time.
The dream seemed to apply to things of life in general.
Last night, things changed. Another dream.
I’d gotten into some trouble in the mountains, a car trip, some lost town, maybe northern California. Made some locals mad. Somehow, I ‘crossed’ a local guy. His long, red hair was parted at the top and done in messy braids, Viking like.
Couldn’t help notice the scar across a cheek and more on his tattooed arms.
My family was with me as we sat in what was like a police station. I was being held there. I can’t remember what the trouble was I had with the redhead. It was enough to activate a weird town policy of justice. In fact, he was trying to cheat me at a gasoline pump, tried to shortchange me. When I had questioned his math, all hell broke loose.
The town leaders quickly gathered and held a hurried meeting.
They brought me breakfast to my cell, my family sitting just outside my cage. ‘What the hell did I do? I asked.
Soon enough three, Viking like men showed up and informed me I would have to have a ‘cut fight’ tonight round the community bonfire. One seemed friendlier than the others. I asked him? ‘Hey why can’t I just apologize to the gasoline station guy? I can leave the money he claims I owe him, it’s okay. Me and my family just want to get going.’
‘Listen, bud, there’s nothing I can do to change this. It’s the policy we have here to keep the peace. We’ve learned that by using the ‘cut fight’ it allows us a way to gain an instant settlement in the issue at hand.’ That’s how this guy talked and explained it to me.
‘But I’ve never had a knife fight in my life, there’s no way; I mean, has this guy fought before?’
The town leader put on a look of sympathy, tilted his head to one side and raised his eye brows as if indicating that one had to resign oneself to the reality. ‘I’m afraid so, he’s one bad motherfucker. Just remember bud, it’s just one cut, you know? One cut, whoever gets the first wound the fights over with.’
‘You mean if I get nicked on the knee and it’s like a scratch, the fight’s over?’
The town leader simply nodded agreement as he pulled on his dirty beard. ‘Just remember, I told you he’s done this before and he goes for a killing cut. He will avoid you until he sees an opening, then he’s coming for you.’
I wondered why this guy was being helpful.
In my dream once again, as in my dreams of the past, I realized this was an awoken dream, where I knew it was a damn dream and yet was stuck in it.
Fear entered my heart as has never happened to me in this life, not even as bad as when I was kidnapped at gunpoint in Honduras years ago. In my California cell, it was nearly impossible to keep my tears of pure fear from flowing. My family couldn’t believe this was happening. Outside the town committee was building a bonfire near the center park, people gathered, beer and weed sold like hot cakes.
But it was the fear. Fear, as I have never felt in this life. I wish I were joking. It still reverberates through my body and mind this following morning.
The fear brought a hugely uncomfortable realization to mind. That I wasn’t a strong man. That I was worthless when it came to having a simple face off with a pot- bellied, red head. This was the stark realization in the dream. I was a failure, and not just this ridiculous knife fight, but in everything. Somehow, it was pervasive.
I imagined facing off with this guy over and over. What move might I make to get just a slip of his blade, just enough to end the fight. Outside, I heard the wailing siren of an ambulance that came to join the festivities and to be on the ready for when there was a cut victim. Outside my cell, deputies were placing bets in terms of seconds that it would take until red head opened me up.
Others bet on the kind of cut it would be, gut, head, neck…
If he was experienced, there was no way I could outmaneuver him, just no way. I mean how? I asked what knives we used and the head guy said I’d see soon enough. It was then that I saw over near an officer’s desk on a wall was a collection of about ten silver and shiny samurai swords.
I broke from the dream just as the men came for me in the cell. I was frail with fear and sweat covered. It took me a half hour of practicing breathing to bring me solidly into the present.
Jesus, I wondered where that brave young man of thirty years had gone.
Simple: Life happened…