“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” ~ Carl Jung

Spitfire Lake Reflection by Will Forbes (National Geographic Photo of the Day)

                   

“At the heart of all beauty lies something inhuman, and these hills, the softness of the sky, the outline of these trees at this very minute lose the illusory meaning with which we had clothed them, henceforth more remote than a lost paradise . . . that denseness and that strangeness of the world is absurd.” ~ Albert Camus

Wednesday afternoon. Cloudy and mild, thunder showers.

Carl Jung again. I’m finding more and more that I really like Jung, but I probably should read more of him before I become a devotee.

Foggy Landscape by Vadim Trunov (Voronezh, Russia)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about mothers and daughters, the relationships that are carved from necessity and that  ineffable fragility that exists between the two. I’ve tried to think of the kinds of things that I’ve told Alexis over the years, and whether or not I’ve been the kind of mother that she has needed.

Truthfully, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve always said the right thing, and probably, I have not. I don’t know if I’ve always been the sounding board that she needed, or if I’ve shouldered enough or too much of the burdens that she has borne. No one gives you a manual when you take your first child from the safety of the hospital. Suddenly, you find yourself holding this tiny bundle who has needs, the kinds of needs you have never before had to consider. It gets easier with subsequent children because you have already had to learn what the different cries mean, what the different body postures may signal.

But that first time? You know nothing. It doesn’t matter how much you cared for other children when you babysat for the neighbors or how often you had to take care of younger siblings; with your first child, you enter foreign territory, and it is nothing less than terrifying.

Alexis is entering that territory. She told the family at Christmas that she is pregnant. Surprise!

I had wanted to wait until all of the tests were done and she had passed that iffy 16-week mark before saying anything. She has had to undergo more testing than the average pregnant young woman, mostly because of that unexplained seizure that she had a few years ago. Thankfully, everything seems to be good, normal, whatever that is.

“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become Love. This is the mystery. This is what I must do.” ~ Katherine Mansfield, from The Journal of Katherine Mansfield

So of course, I am filled with trepidation and joy, simultaneously. My daughter is not as strong as I was at that age; that is simply an observation, not a criticism. She is an entirely different kind of person. Everything worries her, and she becomes emotionally distressed easily. Having said that, I have noticed that she seems to be handling this rather tremendous life change with a kind of quiet grace.

Colibita Lake, Romania, by bortescristian (FCC)

This is not to say that she doesn’t have her meltdowns. Hormones, that and the fact that she cannot take her usual medications. She is a bundle of raging, unchecked hormones. Thankfully, Mike is very excited about becoming a daddy, and he seems to be balancing her well.

Now ask me how my mother took the news? Not well. She made a rather biting comment in front of everyone, and then said that she was joking and couldn’t understand why everyone got so upset. Luckily, she has since progressed a bit and is now purchasing baby clothes. Regardless, her initial horror at the news really affected Alexis adversely, understandably.

Which brings me back to my original thought: mothers and daughters.

“The tiny space I occupy is so infinitesimal in comparison with the rest of space, which I don’t occupy and which has no relation to me. And the period of time in which I’m fated to live is so insignificant beside the eternity in which I haven’t existed and won’t exist . . . .” ~ Ivan Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I am hard on my mother, judgmental, critical. And I have to wonder if Alexis views me in the same light. I would like to think that this is not the case, that I have managed to carve out a good relationship with my daughter, even though I know that it has not always been good, that there have been times when the estrangement between us has seemed to vast to ever be repaired.

I have not always liked the males that she has chosen as boyfriends, nor have I always liked those she has chosen as friends. I think that those things are probably standard fare for mothers—thinking that the person with your daughter or son is not good enough, believing that your daughter or son does not make the wisest choices when it comes to friends. No matter. Alexis has a tight group of friends that she has been with since grade school, and she has been with Mike for nine years. Obviously, I was wrong about some things.

Morning Fog, The Meadows, Edinburgh, Scotland by keepwaddling1 (FCC)

But I suppose what I am really wondering is if I have instilled in her the knowledge that she needs to face this big new adventure in her life, whether or not I have shown her by example how important it is to love even when it is hard to love, even when everything within screams NO, I will not, because even though you may not want to, sometimes with children it is better to give that inch in order to gain the years.

Does that make sense?

When you are a mother, you subsume so much of your own personality at certain points in order that your child or children can become stronger individuals. You bite your tongue, or you walk away, even when you really don’t want to. And those mothers who are unable to do this, mothers like my own mother, are never able to retain their own identities, continue to live through their children, long after their children have become separate individuals. And conversely, mothers who have very strong personalities, such as myself, must take care not to try to impose that personality on their child or children.

It’s so easy to think of your child as a miniature version of yourself when you first start out. So many people come up to you and say things like, “She looks just like you,” or “She has your eyes and nose,” or whatever. It is much more difficult to remember that genetics are not destiny.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” ~ Aldous Huxley, Island

In other words, just because this tiny individual looks like you does not mean that she is you. And that’s a hard but important lesson to learn—early. And while I am talking mostly about mothers and daughters, the same is true of fathers and sons, or parents and children in general.

Morning Lake Mist by basheertome (FCC)

My god, it’s hard. It’s hard not to invest everything in this little person, and I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t invest everything. I’m only saying that it’s so important to remember that at some point there is going to be a separation, a time in which that little person is no longer little, no longer your mirror image, no longer content to live life as you see fit, and that point, that moment is when so many parents fail.

They try to hard to hold on with everything they have in any way that they know how, whether it is by proximity or money or guilt or something else.

As an only child, I have always felt that I could not move too far away from my mother because who else is there to be there in emergencies, like when she falls and breaks her leg? And even though I write often about my longing to be elsewhere to see other countries, I know that I am bound to this place indefinitely. I would be lying if I said that a part of me doesn’t resent this, but I also know that in the end, family is family, and my mother has me, only me, which is why she is determined to hold on so tightly, to try to control things in any way that she can.

“what matters most
is how well you
walk in the
fire.” ~ Charles Bukowski, from “how is your heart?”

So in the end, what have I taught my daughter, my children? What things do I hope she retains in her reservoir of knowledge that may be of some use to her in the coming months and years?

  • That voices raised in anger can say things that can be as damaging as a hand raised in anger
  • That a hand raised in anger can do irreparable harm
  • That the words I love you cannot be spoken too often
  • That calling a child a hurtful name is the same as marking that child
  • That hugs are for sharing
Old Gate in Fog by elias_daniel (FCC)
  • That it is more important to listen than to hear
  • That promises are meant to be kept
  • That a child remembers if you break a promise
  • That children learn trust from being trusted
  • That there is no good time to lie to a child
  • That compassion for others helps you to be a better person
  • That beauty can be found in unexpected places
  • That the toilet seat should be down
  • That body image is cultivated at home first
  • That tenderness should be expressed frequently
  • That hatred for others who are different is learned not inherited
  • That it’s okay to be silly at weird times
  • That we are stewards of the earth
  • That music and art are important aspects of life
  • That it is impossible to spoil a baby
  • That babies are meant to be held
  • That Law & Order is the best show that has ever been on television
  • That your children see and hear more than you realize
  • That truth is paramount
  • That a loving relationship with your partner helps your children to form loving relationships
  • That respect should never be taken for granted
  • That you only have one body and you should respect it
  • That you should always look someone in the eye when you shake their hand
  • That being tolerant should never be underestimated
  • That animals are sentient beings and must be treated as such
  • That until you have walked in another’s shoes you should not judge
  • That stuffed animals do in fact need homes
  • That words hold more power than you can ever imagine
  • That the rich should pay more taxes
  • That simply being a celebrity of any sort does not imply being a good person
  • That the Golden Rule is the most important rule of all.

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” ~ Sarah Kay

I know that I’m running long, but what it boils down to is this: I cannot remember the last time that my mother told me that she loved me. It has been years, maybe even since my father died.  I tell each of my children and Corey that I love them anytime they leave the house and before I hang up the phone. Is this too much? Can you say such a thing too much?

My mother’s constant patting of body parts and the tsks that followed taught me to be ashamed of my body. I hate my neck because she spent years telling me to do exercises to get rid of my double chinssss. I hate my belly because she does not hesitate to pat it and say something like “you’ve gained weight.”

Bridge in Mist by jamtea (FCC)

My mother’s inability to trust, especially my father, made it very hard for me to trust men. And her difficulty in showing intimacy gave me very mixed signals as a teenager. I was taught that sex was dirty and an obligation, and while I realize that this is a generational thing, don’t think for a second that being taught such a thing didn’t screw me up.

I want my daughter to bring her daughter into this world full of hope and a recognition that there are always possibilities. That heredity is not destiny and that we are only limited by ourselves. And one more thing: I will actually be a real Lola now.

More later. Peace.

Music by Peter Bradley Adams, “I May Not Let Go”

                   

Miracle Fair

Commonplace miracle:
that so many commonplace miracles happen.

An ordinary miracle:
in the dead of night
the barking of invisible dogs.

One miracle out of many:
a small, airy cloud
yet it can block a large and heavy moon.

Several miracles in one:
an alder tree reflected in the water,
and that it’s backwards left to right
and that it grows there, crown down
and never reaches the bottom,
even though the water is shallow.

An everyday miracle:
winds weak to moderate
turning gusty in storms.

First among equal miracles:
cows are cows.

Second to none:
just this orchard
from just that seed.

A miracle without a cape and top hat:
scattering white doves.

A miracle, for what else could you call it:
today the sun rose at three-fourteen
and will set at eight-o-one.

A miracle, less surprising than it should be:
even though the hand has fewer than six fingers,
it still has more than four.

A miracle, just take a look around:
the world is everywhere.

An additional miracle, as everything is additional:
the unthinkable
is thinkable.

~ Wislawa Szymborska (translated by Joanna Trzeciak)

Advertisements

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” ~ Carl Jung

                   

“The universe is like a dome; it vibrates to that which you say in it, and answers the same back to you; so also is the law of action; we reap what we sow.” ~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

Wednesday afternoon. Sunny and mild, mid 60’s. Absolutely beautiful outside.

Well, yesterday I sat down to post, but then I got distracted by a phone call from my mother, and as a result, I was never able to regain my concentration long enough to post. My mother has that effect on me: She is able to completely disconcert me with just a conversation. What happens, actually, is that she starts to use that unassailable logic that is hers alone, and I usually lose my temper, and everything just degenerates.

Yesterday was so bad that I actually considered banging my head on my desk while she was talking to see if I could make my head feel better . . .

I know that I should be more patient with her, and I realize that age is taking its toll. She forgets more than she remembers, and I suppose if I were a good daughter, I would take all of this in stride, but I just can’t. I really can’t. The things that she says just blow my mind as they are so bizarre. For example, because she has decided that she will have no pets once her cat and dog die, then that means that I cannot have any more pets. When I tell her that I will always have at least one dog, she says things like, “Well, that just doesn’t make any sense,” and then I feel like an idiot for trying to justify something that really needs no justification.

This dance between mothers and daughters—does it ever end?

“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner  solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours—that is  what you must be able to attain.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

For the last two nights, I’ve gone up to the prescribed dosage on my Seroquel. I had hesitated to do this because taking 75 mg in the past left me feeling so tired the next day, but I couldn’t take this not sleeping, and obviously the 50 mg wasn’t doing it for me. Each night, I’ve gone to sleep one hour earlier than the night before, which is progress. Last night, I actually fell asleep at 2 a.m., only to be awakened by Alfie who wanted to go out.

I swear that I think the dogs wait for my breathing patterns to change, and then make noise to wake me up . . . Breathing evenly? Yep? Okay, it’s time! And then they take turns waking me as going out together in the wee hours of the morning must be too taxing or something. I love my dogs, but by 5 a.m. I was having irate conversations with them.

Then I had to get up to drive Corey to work at 7. He’s working a 13 hour shift today, and boy was he surly. He’s so put out that he has to go back on the security schedule as there is no definite away date yet. I understand as he had already reconciled his mindset to being finished with that job. Going back on shifts must seem like a giant step backwards, even though it’s only a delay.

Anyway, I took him to work, came back home and slept for a few hours, took Eamonn to work, came home and slept for a few hours, and then took Brett to school and came home and slept for a few hours. Not ideal, but I did sleep, only to be awakened this afternoon by . . . you got it, a telephone call from my mother.

Geez. It just makes me want to go somewhere where there are no phones. I know. That’s selfish. Blame it on the sleep deprivation.

“Certain words now in our knowledge we will not use again, and we will never forget them. We need them. Like the back of the picture. Like our marrow, and the color in our veins. We shine the lantern of our sleep on them, to make sure, and there they are, trembling already for the day of witness. They will be buried with us, and rise with the rest.” ~ W.S. Merwin from Houses and Travellers

So yesterday, I had my telephone interview with my long-term disability provider. They are refiling my Social Security claim. The interesting thing is that since I was denied, my new date of disability becomes the date of my previous denial. Such a crock.

So we went over my medications, the doctors that I’m seeing, my conditions. Nothing new, really. Now they’ll file a claim, and then we do a lot of waiting only to be denied on the first round. Then we appeal again, and I get assigned a hearing date. I’m looking at about 12 months minimum to go through this process once again. Denial in the first phase is almost automatic. It’s as if this bureaucracy deliberately creates more work for itself and everyone else.

Let’s see, she has headaches everyday, debilitating migraines that she sees a neurologist for, chronic back pain, this, that, and the other . . . Denied.

I really don’t know how some people manage to go through the whole process and come out with benefits. I know of a couple of people who have actually been approved, and quite frankly, I am more disabled than they are. It’s not a bragging contest. Just a fact. But as with my mother, I am looking for inherent logic, and the fact is that there is none. There is nothing logical or efficient about the Social Security Administration.

This morning on the way to school Brett and I touched on a few political topics, and he told me that quite frankly, he doesn’t want to get distracted by political activism at the moment because he needs to concentrate on school. I understand, I really do. To give in to the desire to fight the system takes a lot of time and energy, and I just cannot go around mad at the things that Rick Santorum says 24 hours a day, or it would only add to my pain—physical, emotional, psychological. As it is, I’m sitting on a heating pad as I type this.

“I am astonished, disappointed, pleased with myself. I am distressed, depressed, rapturous. I am all these things at once, and cannot add up the sum. I am incapable of determining ultimate worth or worthlessness; I have no judgment about myself and my life. There is nothing I am quite sure about. I have no definite convictions—not about anything, really. I know only that I was born and exist, and it seems to me that I have been carried along. I exist on the foundation of something I do not know.” ~ Carl Jung, near the end of his life, in Memories, Dreams

Yes, two Jung quotes in the same post. Unusual for me, but they both seemed to fit, and I couldn’t choose one over the other.

I’ve never really studied Jung as I came of age at a time when Freud still held sway, all of that oral, anal fixation stuff. Oedipal and Electra complexes. Id, ego, and superego. My first psychology teacher was a kook. She would mention oral fixations and then make sucking motions with her mouth like she was sucking on a pacifier. Strange the things you remember. But I find now that I really appreciate Jung more, especially after I learned what a misogynist Freud was.

By the way, just as an aside, orange slices (the candy) and Pepsi really do not go well together. Just found that out.

So, where am I? Corey is unsettled. Politics is the same old bullshit. I’m getting ready to take on another battle with the SSA. I still need to do taxes and the FAFSA forms for Brett and Corey. My computer is still dead. My dogs both delight and aggravate me. My mother . . . well, nothing new there either.

As for myself: I really cannot “add up the sum,” as the quote says. I have ideas constantly about plots for stories, literally, all the time. I wonder if I get my hands on an IBM Selectric what excuse I’ll use after that. I could do this, you know? I really could, but I am so caught up in defining my worth, in trying to define my convictions that I never seem to stop long enough to get anything done.

So what kind of person am I? I was born, and now, I exist, simply exist. Still waiting to start living.

More later. Peace.

                   

Today’s post features real ads for medicines/curatives that contained cocaine, amphetamines, and other interesting ingredients (such as heroin, cannabis, and morphine). Here is my favorite: Mabel is Unstable . . . so let’s tranquilize her with butabarbital . . .

                   

Music by Charlie Winston, “She Went Quietly”

                    

Meditation at Lagunitas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you
and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
Robert Hass, from Praise

“The right way to wholeness is made up of fateful detours and wrong turnings.” ~ Carl Jung

Dandelion with Bright Blue Icelandic Sky as Backdrop, by Candy Caldwell

  

I found the most wonderful tumblr* on one of my favorite sites, Crashingly Beautiful. Click here to be taken to National Geographic Magazine.

Enjoy. More later. Peace.

                                                                           

*A tumblr is a short form blog that allows users to post images, text, video, quotes, links. Like Twitter, users follow other tumblelogs, and their posts appear together as one stream on their dashboard. Additionally, users can reblog posts from other blogs on the site. Many of the tumblr blogs that I have come across are virtual commonplace books.

According to the site, “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, from your browser, phone, desktop, email, or wherever you happen to be. You can customize everything, from colors, to your themes HTML.”

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung

Lone Sakura Cherry Blossom, Japan

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~  Crowfoot’s last words, 1890

Cherry Blossoms over the Potomac, Washington, D.C.

A heartfelt welcome to my new readers. In the last few days, I have had another spurt of comments from new readers, which is always wonderful. I love to receive comments of all kinds, so if you are just stopping by for the first time, please take a minute to let me know what you think.  

Moving along . . . I’m not sure what possessed me, but I went into the bathroom a few hours ago and cut my hair. It feels better, not as heavy, but I messed up the front a bit. I have to say, though, that I’m not upset because my hair is growing so fast that within a month, it will probably be out of control again. I long for a really good haircut, actually a totally new style. Not short as I look horrible with short hair but something just below the shoulders. It really sucks not being able to pay for a good hair cut, but since I’m not really going anywhere that matters, I can’t justify the expense.  

I don’t know how much of a post this will be. I’m not sleeping again. Yesterday, I finally fell asleep at 7:30 in the morning, and then last night, I fell asleep around 5:30 in the morning. Corey was working 11 to 7 last night, which is a bit unnerving because once I finally fall asleep, I’m alone in bed, but if I wake up in between, which I inevitably do, he’s in bed next to me. You can imagine how that might be a little unsettling.  

“I found a journal in the coffee shop that said, ‘write something and leave me behind’; the open page read: ‘If you want to experience time travel, look into the face of the night because the stars illuminate the past—breathe in their stories.’” ~ C. Troise

Weeping Cherry, Newark, NJ

I’m not sure where I found the above quote, but I love it because it’s the kind of thing that I would do if I were going to coffee shops on a regular basis. One of my favorite places to write in my journal is the Starbucks on Shore Drive, which runs parallel to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This Starbucks, which has a deck, faces the water, making it the perfect spot to sit in the spring sunshine, sip coffee, and write or read.  

One time when I was hiking and camping with some friends, we came across a small shack on a trail. Inside was a hiker’s journal containing comments from people from all over the world, people who had stopped for a moment in their journey to add a few thoughts, read some of the entries. It was like finding a little treasure in the most unexpected place.  

I haven’t written in a journal in ages. I mean, with this blog, there really isn’t a need for my journal. However, once Corey goes back to sea (here’s hoping), we plan to begin  keeping journals again. The idea is that I write in mine while he’s away, and he writes in his, and then we exchange them when he gets home. We have filled two journals in this way, and we were in the middle of two others, but we decided that since we’ll be starting a new chapter of our lives when he finally gets a boat, that we are going to start new journals instead of picking up where we stopped.  

If you have never kept a journal, you might want to think about doing so. I used to make my literature students keep reading journals, which I know was not a small assignment. However, that being said, if they worked on their journals in the way that they were supposed to, then they would have no problems with tests and the final exam. I’ve never believed in teaching literature in a vacuum, just standing in front of a room full of people and lecturing to them about what something means. Meaning is subjective, depending upon numerous factors, and anyone who tries to tell you that X poem means exactly Y is full of baloney.  

“When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility.” ~ J. M. Barrie

  

Yoshino Flowering Cherry, Forest Lawn, Norfolk, L. Liwag

Tonight is my reality show night—the finale of Project Runway, another episode of cat fights on RHNY. Speaking of which, I was reading my online news sources today, and somehow I ended up on a page about the newest housewife on RHNY. I honestly don’t know how I landed on this page, and I cannot remember the name of this latest entry into the supposedly real world, but one thing that I do remember is that when I first saw her, I did a double take because she looks so much like someone I was friends with years ago.  

Same thin nose and thin lips, same color hair (although it was a natural color for my friend), even the same body shape. This was another one of my friends who dated my ex and who he left by the wayside. We remained friends for many years, even though she left the area. And then something happened when she was in town for a reunion, and we haven’t spoken to each other since. One of those things that you don’t really know the reason for but you aren’t concerned enough to actually do something about. Too much time had passed between us, and we really didn’t have much to say to one another.  

Anyway, so I had a bit of deja vu when watching last week’s episode, and it made me stop in my thoughts and wonder whatever happened to her, if she finally found the person she was looking for, if she finished the degree she finally pursued. I have a vague memory of someone telling me that she had cancer, but I might have dreamed it. I have that problem with confusing dreams with memories.  

Speaking of dreams, the other night I had a right strange dream in which I was trying to find a job for a realtor I knew, and I took her to my old boss, but he was in a new building, and didn’t really want to talk to me. Last night, I dreamed that I was in a hotel for some kind of conference, and I ended up going into the kitchen to find lemon slices and cinnamon sticks as garnishes for some wine bar. You see? I cannot even relax and have fun in my dreams; instead of drinking wine and wearing beautiful gowns with the rest of the people in my dream, I go searching for lemon wedges. That must be significant somehow.  

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.  

“Let Her Cry,” a classic from Hootie and the Blowfish 

  

  

“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of the week.” ~ William Dement

 What Dreams May Come 1

Image from What Dreams May Come* (Robin Williams, 1998)

 

“I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.” ~ William Butler Yeats, “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” 

African LionI dreamt of a golden lion and a giant camel. The lion was not attacking the camel, but it was facing the camel. The lion’s fur was not tan; it was golden and shimmering in the light. The camel was twice the size of a normal camel, and I believe that it had one hump (dromedary camel). It was not carrying anything on its back, and it was dark brown, the color of weak coffee.

The lion and the camel were on the side of a four-lane highway in Virginia Beach. No one else seemed to notice them. I was in a car looking out when I saw them. The car slowed because it had reached a major intersection, so I had more than a second to take in this sight. In the dream, I wondered what the two were doing there, and I remember thinking that they could get hit by a car.

Later in the dream, I was still in the car, and I was telling Corey to veer right as the road forked. He almost missed the right side of the fork, and I was very upset with him for not listening to me. It was important that we take the right side of the fork, but I have no idea as to why.

“Sleep is when all the unsorted stuff comes flying out as from a dustbin upset in a high wind.” ~ William G. Golding

This is the third time that I have dreamt of this lion. Once, it jumped out of a wall of foliage and came at me. I cannot remember the details of the second time that the lion appeared, and now the lion and the camel.

camel-at-sunsetThe setting for the lion and the camel are completely incongruous: the side of a highway instead of a desert or a jungle. The pairing of these two animals seems just as incongruous. Not that a lion wouldn’t hunt a camel, but it’s doubtful that the two would be in the vicinity of each other.

The camel is known for bearing burdens great distances. The fact that this camel was twice the size of a normal camel could indicate the weight of my burdens. But this camel was carrying nothing on its back. Interesting.

The lion, in dream mythology, is a noble beast, known for strength, the ability to conquer, and the ability to create fear. One dream interpretation says that lions represent inner rage and intimidating situations; while another says that to see a lion in a dream means that you have influence over others, and that you will overcome difficulties.

Am I angry, or am I influential? Am I an influential but angry person? Or perhaps, I am a strong person people fear, but I’m having difficulties? It’s all so confusing.

What is also odd to me is that in one situation I was afraid of the lion, but in the other situation, I was not at all afraid. In the first situation, the lion pounced but did not actually land on me; in the other situation, I saw the lion as being incredibly beautiful, which just goes to show how abstract dream interpretation really is.

This is the first time that I have dreamt of a camel, at least the first time in a number of years. The fact that the camel was so large could symbolize the overwhelming weight I feel because of my burdens.

However, one interpretation is that dreaming of a camel symbolizes an inability to express emotions and to hold onto them. A paradox for me. I have no problems in expressing my emotions. In fact, one person who knew me well said that I was a drama queen. However, I do hold onto things. I have a hard time forgetting a wrong that was done to me or anyone close to me. I take on the problems of those around me whether or not they have asked for my assistance.

Often, I feel that it is my job to protect my family, my children, and my friends. Wouldn’t that be the lion? At the same time, I assume their burdens, which makes me a camel, doesn’t it?

 “Dreams are illustrations . . . from the book your soul is writing about you.” ~ Marsha Norman

What Dreams May Come 3The thing that I find oddest is that on the night that I had this dream (two nights ago), I was not particularly upset about anything. Eldest son had not taxed my patience. I had nothing on my mind except for my headache. I was not angry. I was not upset. I felt no overwhelming need to be there for someone. In fact, everyone had been pretty considerate in light of my five-day migraine. Yet the lion and the camel appeared, out of context, so to speak.

I combed my thoughts to see if anything struck me as being somehow related: I have had the situation in Iran on my mind for a while. Corey smokes Camel cigarettes. I have been worried about making my health insurance payment, but that is nothing new. I have been anxious over Corey getting a job soon, but again, that is not a new problem. In other words, nothing new stands out starkly as something that would cause these two animals to appear by the side of the road.

So why a giant camel and a golden-haired lion? And why did I feel no fear?

“Sleep hath its own world, And a wide realm of wild reality, And dreams in their development have breath, And tears and tortures, and the touch of joy.” ~ Lord Byron 

What Dreams May Come6When I worked at the zoo for a short while, they were working on building Africa, a new extension to the zoo. I was very interested in the construction, and I found the habitat that they were creating for the lions to be beautiful. However, I should pause here and say that deep down in my heart, I don’t really like zoos. I admire the thought process behind them: to make animals available to the general population so as to increase knowledge and appreciation. But at the same time, I have a very hard time with the premise: putting these animals in habitats that simulate their natural habitats.

What’s wrong with the natural habitats? National Geographic does a wonderful job, both in its magazine and in its television shows of bringing animals into the living rooms of everyday people. So why move the animals in the first place? There used to be a show on television called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I used to love to watch reruns of that show on Saturday afternoon.

The host, Marlin Perkins, would wrestle with gators, hold large snakes, and various other stunts. I remember my high school biology teacher, Mr. Leigh, making fun of Perkins for pretending to wrestle gators, while wranglers were out of the camera shot. I loved Mr. Leigh. I also learned so much from him. Anyway, Wild Kingdom actually wasn’t my first introduction to exotic animals.

I had already seen camels up close in Morocco. And the rain forest that we visited had all kinds of flora and fauna—all without created habitats or cages. I suppose that’s why I have such a hard time seeing animals in zoos, even though the zoos of the 21st century are so far removed from the zoos that had all animals behind bars with cement floors.

Of course, I must point out the if not for zoos, some of the animals there would be dead. For example, several eagles that were injured by some barbarians were put in an eagle habitat so that they could continue their lives even though they could not fly.

Anheuser Busch does the same thing at Busch Gardens. The one in Williamsburg has a wonderful eagle habitat that is open with trees, logs, a stream. None of the eagles placed there can fly any longer, but they are with other eagles, and they have a habitat that roughly approximates their natural homes.

“Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.” ~ Walt Whitman 

What Dreams May Come 5Of course, the scientific part of my brain wonders about the logic behind keeping eagles that are injured. Nature will have its way, no matter how much humans intervene. Although people tend to misinterpret Darwin’s hypothesis about natural selection: It is not about the strongest surviving, but rather about those most able to adapt being ble to survive.

 However, in the case of eagles, the converse must be considered: humans are directly to blame for the depletion of the eagle population; not nature. DDT, a chemical no longer used, polluted ground water, streams and lakes, thereby causing many species to suffer, in particular, the eagle.

And then there are the people with guns who think that an eagle would make a good trophy. These people have no soul. How could they? How could they shoot down one of the most majestic birds on the face of the earth for what they call sport? Don’t even try to make the argument that the eagle population needed to be reined in. That has never been the case.

But of course, that was the argument used with the American Buffalo: They were too plenty. So logically, humans shot them almost to extinction.

So yes, zoos are good for maintaining populations of animals that are dwindling, sort of. Although, some of the statistics that I read state that zoos only account for about 2 percent of successful conservation of species. Of course, animals that are bred for zoos no nothing of living in the wild as they have never had that experience. Another paradox.

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul . . .” ~ Carl Jung 

What Dreams May Come 2So what to make of my recurring lion and the very large camel? Is my inner lion trying to tell me that I need to fight harder for something? Someone? Is the camel present to make me take a slow and steady path? Yet another paradox.

Fight but be steady? Fear but sure-footed? Shimmering gold set against muddy brown?

If I were a Freudian, the lion would probably mean that I am seeking out my inner male or some form of my father . . . but I am not a Freudian. I don’t need my inner male to make me strong, even though it was a male lion. One site that I happened upon by accident claimed that the Templars had a mythology in which each individual was born like a camel, with a load upon its back, but once the individual had passed many travails, he became a lion. I was unable to find anything to back up this particular story, but if it were true, wouldn’t that be interesting?

I only know that the burdens that I am bearing are weighty, but not enough to put me down. I have my weaknesses, but have never thought of myself as weak. I am protective of my pride, so to speak, and take on their burdens as my own, but I am not smelly, nor do I spit.

“Dreams say what they mean, but they don’t say it in daytime language.” ~ Gail Godwin

What Dreams May Come 4Am I making too much of the recurring lion and now its companion, the very large camel? Perhaps. But it made for an interesting contrast, and quite a departure in the substance of in my dreams.

And after all, how many people do you know who can open a conversation with the following statement: I dreamt of a golden lion and a camel?

By the way, did I mention that they’ve found a new kind of giant elephant shrew, one that is related to a group of animals that lived in Africa more than a100 million years ago. I’ll let you know if I dream of shrews. No jokes about shrews, please.

More later. Peace.

*All pictures except lion and camel are taken from the motion picture What Dreams May Come (1988), directed by Vincent Ward and starring Robin Williams.