I had a dream last night. Actually, I have dreams most every night. And I remember them, a lot of them. I used to be really into looking up the meanings, interpreting, deciphering my life based on my nightly stories. Then I jumped into other more serious interests like astrology and past lives. But I had this dream and it was disturbing and so I looked it up.
In the dream I am at a picnic and am standing under the pavilion. I see an owl swooping toward me. I am afraid, but in luck because he misses and lands in a nearby tree. I am in a panic and talking to my mother in a frantic voice. She tries to calm me, but I will have none of it. I feel my heart racing, my palms sweating, my breath quicken. He swoops again. I crouch in fear. This time he does not miss. He lands on my back and I can feel his talons clutching me (do owls have talons?). I can feel him grabbing at me for real not just in my dream. I can feel it in my sleep much as one might smell a dream smell or hear a dream voice as if it is really happening. I can feel the clutching at my back. He is trying to lift me, trying to carry me away. I am not sure if he is attempting to carry me with him in flight or if instead I am his prey. I will have none of it. I hold on to the ground with everything I have. I hold my place in fear for my life. Then I wake up.
I am unable to let go of this dream. It stays with me like the collection of those I have that I could describe to you right now, those that have somehow maintained their spot in my brain, bringing me smiles and laughter and good memories. I like having good memories from dreams. I like dreams that are encouraging and inspiring and funny and silly and sometimes prophetic. I don’t much care for owls clutching at my back.
And, so, in my distress I turn to my trusty dream dictionary for some comfort. At first, indeed, comfort is what I find. An owl in a dream is a sign that one is tuning into her inner awareness, honing her intuition, getting in touch with her psychic self. She is expanding her level of consciousness. Wonderful! Exciting! As I read further I see that owls signify wisdom and insight. They, too, can be synonymous with death. Excuse me? Read that last part again. Death? What the hell?!
My scientist self says never trust one source. And so I explore other dream interpretation sites. I know. Don’t even talk to me about talking science and online dream interpretation in the same sentence. The other sources are very comforting. Owls, indeed, signify wisdom and an expansion of the self and opening to all that is intuitive, signals a connection to synchronicity and psychic awareness. Cool. I am liking this and secretly thumbing my nose at that first site. I check one more dictionary source just to round out the number. It is all about death. Owls are dark and represent a passing. Be careful in your excursions. Lay low and don’t take any unnecessary risks. So. I’m going to die? I want a re-do.
The more I thought about the dream, the more I wondered. Why am I so afraid to die? Dying is after all a side effect of birth. We all do it. So, why am I so afraid, besides the obvious fact that it’s scary as heck?
I did almost die once. I was six. But I had no children and really didn’t understand the whole concept. I’m older now, with a family and a good knowledge of how the whole life and death thing works.
Some of you will say, but oh, the afterlife. Some of you will go on and on about how wonderful things will be when we move from where we are to where we will be. But what if we don’t? But, oh, we will and it will be just grand, just stunning and spectacular. Yeah, but what if it’s not? But it will be. It is written. Yeah, but what if it’s not, even if it is written? I’m not saying I don’t believe. I’m just saying I question. And so I ask myself, why do I not want to die? Again, besides the fact that it's scary as heck. That’s a cop out answer. That’s like one of those answers you put when you’re trying to bullshit your way through an exam. I wanted something real. And so I asked myself again, why do I not want to die?
I love a Steve Jobs quote that goes, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am
about to do today?"
I think that’s my answer. I am just now understanding the importance of arranging my life so that I am doing the work I feel I was put here to do. I am just now embracing the idea that I can love my life and smile and laugh and lift others up. I am just now dismissing from my days all the crap, all the stuff that others put there and insist is necessary. I am just now understanding that most things in life are optional. I love to bake. When I do, the recipe inevitably contains a few optional items. Usually these are nuts or dried fruits or chocolate chips. Most everything else is required and has a definite purpose in the end product. Not so with life. I know that now.
I am reading The Art of Non-Conformity. The author, Chris Guillebeau has stretched my brain. Good thing because it was getting flabby from lack of imagining. In the book, he refers to an exercise he came upon once that has one designing a perfect day. If you could design your perfect day, what would it look like? And pardon me for not getting to the root contributor of this idea but his name escapes me now and I cannot, for the life of me, find where I read this. But it’s there. And the concept is lovely. Most of us wake up, have a cup of coffee or two, head to work, spend out our eight hours, come home, make dinner, help the kids with homework, go to bed, wake up and do it all again. And many of us don’t even like those jobs we’re spending all those hours with. I’m always fascinated at the people who complain about Mondays. Ugh!, they say, Monday again. How did this happen?! I just want to grab them by the shoulders, give them a shake, and say, Hello?! It’s happened every single week for the last forty-eight years. Where have you been?! You need to get a new life!! This one is not workin’ for ya!
My perfect day: I would spend my morning enjoying a latte and some laughs with a friend. For the afternoon, I’d grab an iced tea and head to my front porch with my laptop and some thoughts on something I had seen or heard during the day, an essay just waiting to happen. I’d write until my eyeballs felt ready to explode. Then I’d throw on my sneakers and head out to the woods for a nice long walk, enjoying the birds and the butterflies and all the beauty that is nature. Dinner would be beautiful and nutritious, feeding my soul as much as my body. After, I would spend out the evening with my husband and children playing board games at the kitchen table, laughing hysterically until we pee our pants and spit drinks out through our noses.
Why do I not want to die? I don’t believe I am finished. I believe I have work to do. I believe that work is helping others to see how they might arrange their lives so they love their days, how they might arrange their lives so they feel good about themselves and about others and about the world in which they live.