BUT I WANT TO LIVE!
Dreamed 1995/8/5 by Chris Wayan
On a southern beach. The Gulf Coast? It's a lonely stretch--the only sign of humanity's a cement cabin sitting in the middle of the beach, half in the waves. Seems to be just resting on the sand, tilted a bit. It's a hermitage! Several anchorites live here. Strange, given that Bible verse about a "house built on sand"--this thing is unstable! Hurricanes have moved and tilted it a good fifteen degrees.
I walk around it. Fear I'm invading their privacy, though the cement box has no windows. Hear them praying faintly inside.
A man walks up and tells me a bit about its history. "When they built the hermitage, it was the only habitation for miles. Their place became a draw for pilgrims and then tourists. People realized it's a nice beach... the whole region prospered around their seed, even though they hardly never come out. I hear their order placed it here because they hoped for this. It was a depressed region and it needed some attention."
But I too am a catalyst, though a more active one. I have a strange power to make others realize who they truly are and what they truly want. I spark inner revolutions, one by one! Not a skill--it's involuntary. Yet it's my life-work: wandering the world transforming people. A spiritual calling, but with tangible, verifiable results.
These days, I'm staying as a guest in a suburban apartment complex. Next door are three women--two fortyish sisters or cousins, and one attractive twentyish... daughter? No, turns out she's a much younger sister. I keep peeking at them through screen doors, too shy to talk yet. They hang out a lot in the little atrium our apartments share, and seem not to mind how I shyly hover. Easy-going.
My hosts, on the other hand, are very strange. A tiny starved neuter-looking dark woman--not black, not brown, but grayish, smoky, insubstantial as a shadow. Piano-Playing Jane is her name. And she can play, and compose, and paint, and write beautifully... as long as no one sees or hears. If it's for money or fame, even on a small scale, a survival scale... she freezes. The other looks normal, a forgettable blonde--she's just incurably insane. She gets a disability check, can care for herself day to day, but can't work or make friends or attract a lover or make plans for a future. Any future. Just drift through days of quiet delirium. And that's who she is: Delirium.
And they're tired, tired, tired of just continuing. They decide to commit suicide. Pills. I like them, I don't want them to do it. But my magic, my catalysis, requires me to be strictly honest. I can't honestly tell them they have a reason to live; if I were condemned to endless, hopeless dependence, I'd end it too.
I start to cry when Delirium and Shadow Jane tell me their intent. But in the middle of my tears, my honesty fishes up something I'm ashamed of--fear. Fear they'll want me to join them. I hang my head and say in shame "B-b-but I want to LIVE!"
They're teary and sympathetic. Jane says "Of course you should live." Delirium says "Why would YOU commit suicide? You have a purpose in life!"
I feel relief. Gratitude shoots through my grief.
And I wake.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
I know what provoked this dream. This evening, I walked down foggy streets in the Sunset District, singing,
Give me life,The chant had a spellish power. Without thinking, I'd altered Tori Amos's "Little Earthquakes": she sang pain, not fame. But I've HAD pain, thank you!
give me fame,
give me my
The dream shows why I don't seek good things in life--not mere asceticism or self-sabotage. I'm fasting, out of sympathy for parts so damaged they can never heal, never have fun, love, a purpose.
But here, at last, I let them go. Make a decision. I chose life. And they made a decision. They don't want my sympathy; they don't want my sympathetic illness. They want to die. They want my blessing to die.
Hopefully their energy will reincarnate in new forms, with more hope of change. But whether or not they come back, they let me go.
As I let them go.
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