Yesterday, I found this drawing of a polar bear while cleaning out a closet. It seemed particularly synchronous as I had just the night before dreamt about a bear (a brown bear, but still) AND the temperatures dropped radically overnight.
I am filming a big brown bear at a safe distance. After a while of watching it travel up a steep slope, I watch it on the video clip on my phone, until I realize that by doing so, I no longer have eyes on the real bear. Where is it? I panic a little and slide into water at the edge of a small lake, as if that offered protection. Even as I am trying to save myself from the bear, I am suddenly consumed with thoughts about drowning myself.
But then I start swimming to a cluster of buildings on the opposite shore and find myself surprised at how easily I get there. I’m not that strong of a swimmer. Something about the sanctity of the body. Inhabiting it. Trusting it to take me to the next safe place.
** The landscape is very like the landscape of the trout lakes up in the Sierras where we vacationed one summer a while back. CALIFORNIA.
** The drawing copies a portion of an illustration to the fairy tale, East of the Sun, West of the Moon.
In the quiet dark then not so dark, I finished Toni Morrison’s novel, “God Help the Child”.
It’s the second morning in a row that Finn has gotten me out of bed before five. Yesterday, there were also dreams (first, the usual nightmare of a male intruder, this one around 7′ tall, then around 4:30, this one: Oprah offers me a job as her counsel. We kind of know each other, both having second homes in upstate New York. The offer is equal parts wonderful and absurd. I sputter, “but I’m not a member of the NY bar.” Then I tell her I’m working on a novel. She raises her eyebrows as if to say, ‘So? You can’t do both?’ Awake, I walk around wondering whether Dream-Oprah was a clueless benefactor or better able to see my possibilities).
Today, after the reluctant sliding of legs over the side of the bed, rummaging for slippers and socks, making coffee in the dark, I knew that the quiet would reward me.
Lots to love about the novel. Did not care for the thread of magic realism she inserted, but I never care for that much. Certainly, the story held together and drove me to its end. That matters to me more than it used to. I knew I would like it way more than the reviewer for The New York Times Book Review did. Here’s a beautiful paragraph (Adam is Booker’s murdered older brother):
Doesn’t that prose take your breath away? I hope it warms up a little soon. I’m really sick of being cold.
Which prompted me to pull down my ragged and yellowed copy of Hillman’s “The Dream and The Underworld”:
… if we think back on any dream that has been important to us, as time passes and the more we reflect on it, the more we discover in it, and the more varied the directions that lead out of it.
As the dream is guardian of sleep, so our dream-work, yours and mine, is protective of those depths from which dreams rise, the ancestral, the mythical, the imaginal, and all the hiding invisibilities that govern our lives.
Dreams are… watchmen of that coming night, and our attitude toward them may be modeled upon Hades, receiving, hospitable, yet relentlessly deepening, attuned to the nocturne, dusky, and with a fearful cold intelligence that gives permanent shelter in his house to the incurable condition of human being.
“relentlessly deepening” and “fearful cold intelligence” — these are words that an introvert with Pluto on the ascendant (who has kept notes on dreams since she was a girl) can hold on to and embrace!
I went to sleep last night knowing I’d quote some Hillman today, thinking if I remembered a dream, I’d share it, in part because I was inspired (am always inspired) by Grace’s recent post in which she shares a dream about the Dalai Lama. (I forget mine).
And yesterday, Joe, through a series of facebook posts, re-connected me back to this amazing blues singer, Chastity Brown, whom I tried to draw and kept JUST missing freezing the YouTube frame where I wanted it, but drew away anyway, listening to that amazing song, over and over.
And, right now my collar itches, because after months of thinking about it, I cut my hair this morning. This was inspired in no small part by Saskia whose work, storytelling, abode, and spirit are the primary drivers of my interest in her, but she happens to also have a great HAIRCUT!
All of this weaving and intersection of thought and effort and words and art and music creates a fertile jumble. It crosses media, politics, gender, and geography.
What better cauldron for noticing and using synchronicity?!!
And let me end with this flourish. Mid afternoon yesterday, I picked up a little applique crow I’ve started, with a determination to finish it, when the ca-ring of an incoming comment jingled my nearby phone. It was Mo Crow!!! Can you stand it? All the way around the world in Australia, Mo, who keeps monastic hours in an opposite season, was chiming in. The evening found me ripping out the incorrectly aligned crow’s legs in part because I want the thing to be good enough to share with an artist (and I mean Mo, of course) whose body of work revolves around and celebrates crows.
An effort from last year above the mantle. A horizon trying to emerge. Or perhaps, sleeves? The whole thing wanting to turn into a kimono.
Dreams are on my mind this week. Well, they’re always on my mind. But, I mean, particular dreams. For instance. Not long ago, I dream that my boss asks me what I want to learn this year, leans forward, eager, to hear me. I say clearly and resolutely (and unaware of the dissonance): “I want to learn more about garment construction!” [I work at a law firm].
I’ve been reading books about psi phenomena — how it has been studied, how it has been rejected by science. One of the books looks at data collected online in psi tests to see what precognition of 9/11 was evident, if any. (“Entangled Minds”, Dean Radin) It got me thinking, so I pulled out a journal from 2001. This entry of mine was written on 8/28/2001:
K. dreams that water’s flowing on him and freezing him to the ground. He moans in his sleep. D. wakes up crying and crying and crying because of leg cramps. I dream that I’m being held hostage by a terrorist.
A few things about this stand out. One, it is hard to remember, now, how less frequent our references to terrorists used to be. And, while my dreams have run toward the violent, normally it is personal violence & not political. Two, K.’s icy elements notwithstanding, in twenty-three plus years of sharing a bed, I have heard him vocalize during a dream maybe a dozen times. Three, D. was a restless sleeper, it is true (and at that age, OFTEN in bed with us, as he was that night) — nevertheless, the collective sleep activity in our bed that night can only be considered remarkable.
Waking dreams fill my pages as well. I often use a Tarot card image, ‘randomly’ selected, as a jumping off point. On 9/3/2001, I pulled THE TOWER and here is some of what I wrote (we are now eight days from the attacks):
I am the force of change. Pure, simple, swift, upsetting change. Change can be good like a blast of fresh, much-needed air, or it can feel disastrous, tragic. I don’t indicate, in and of myself, what type of change [is] coming. Jung’s observation – the unworked inner will come and get you from the outer. Bodies fall – bodies representing forms of all kinds… Burning down the house. Some houses need burned down – the ash & Phoenix thing, but even before you get there, the laying waste to false, limiting structures, in & of itself, a worthy activity. This is what happens, oddly, when one embraces the dark side – the brittle masks, the tin houses, collapse, crumble, melt, fall in on themselves….
Clearly, I was looking for a psychological interpretation.
This next dream remnant is less clearly connected to the events of 9/11, but I add it because it seems a part of the mix. Note – there was only one Egyptian among the hijackers (sometimes cast as the ringleader) and he spent his last night on earth in a non-descript hotel on Route 9, a short walk from my home.
9/9/2001 — Neighbor’s married a 16 year old boy. He’s handsome and muscular and so young. Nancy’s trimmed her ancient wisteria to let more light in. I’ve printed out directions to a place in Egypt that I’m going (it’s out on the Fan Pier?). At the courthouse, M.F.
You’ll note that the Fan Pier, occupied by the federal courthouse, is directly across the harbor from Logan Airport. The Egyptian who was to sleep a quarter of a mile away from my house the next night, was surely thinking a great deal about this very vicinity.
“M.F.” is a high school friend of mine who lives near the San Diego airport (in late 2001, there were no direct flights from Boston to San Diego. The flights that were hijacked out of Boston were bound for San Francisco and L.A.) One could say that my unconscious could have picked a better dream figure, especially since my brother lives in L.A. — and yet — it is a Californian airport connection. Isn’t it significant that my mind didn’t pick a local friend, or a friend who’s moved to Texas or Oregon, or a friend who lives near a grocery store or a river?
I’d be interested in hearing if other people who have writings that date back to August – September 2001 can see anything that in hindsight looks like premonition.
Three images to start. How does one start? Always a question. “How does one finish?”, also happens to be a question that plagues me.
Starting in the middle, or wherever one is, seems like sage advice, and I didn’t make it up. See Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing or just about anything by Pema Chodron.
We have snow and it is hanging onto the rooves and curbs, in spite of rain. At least we have power, unlike many in New Hampshire, or even just west of here in Worcester.
I would like to work faster and larger. The whole business of quilting takes a long, long time. It is a wonder I do it at all. But water?!! Brushes?!! More crap in the basement?!!
Last night a scary dream about becoming disoriented… unable to tell which way I came in, I turn, go some distance, turn again, go some distance the other way, hoping something will jog my memory.
Many of my quilts address the uncertain business of memory. Here is one from awhile ago, from a whole series that I made using poppies as the central image. Poppies are an apt symbol for our flawed process of collecting bits of ourselves in memory, because they both signal remembrance (popularized during World War I) and forgetting (think: opiates). The fragmentation of the design is no accident. One thing making quilts about memory, and even painful memories, has taught me in a graphic way is that the pattern of a life makes for beauty, no matter what the components.
"No Memory Poppy"
Julia Cameron says, “…by claiming our own memories, we gain access to the creative energy that they contain. Memories become a source, not only of inspiration, but of fuel.” In this quilt, I cut up a family photo (transferred onto fabric) found in a second-hand store. I wonder how the whole process would shift were I to use a photo from my own childhood.