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Marabou Monster

Dreamed 2014/3/15 by Rustling Leaves

I must go into the Southern sprawl tomorrow morning to meet a social obligation, but in the early afternoon I need to be in the East Hills suburbs to see a doctor (in service of transition-related medical hoop-jumping). Swamped by tasks, I can barely find the time to focus or concentrate. I'm out doing work in the yard when the troubles begin.

There's a bird feeder I hang on the chimney by a nail--a mesh bag full of acorns, with holes big enough that the woodpeckers can get them out one at a time and carry them off. I love acorn woodpeckers, so I make sure they're always supplied. Recently it's been visited by some positively huge ones--sort of crest-less Pileated-like birds, but the size of large hawks. That afternoon, something I instinctively called a "flicker" lands. It's quite unlike a real one though; another colossal woodpecker richly colored, red all over with fuschia highlights. Strange bird! It approaches the bag, and tears it right off the nail, before trying clumsily to fly away. It soon gives up, and throws the bag disdainfully onto the neighbors' roof.

I groan in dismay, but there's nothing to be done for it now. It's evening, the sun will set soon, and I'm simply too tired to tell the neighbors what happened, or go clambering up onto their house and try to remove the bag. I resolve to tell them in the next morning, and put the tools away hastily before going inside, where my grandmother is. (This grandmother died about a year ago, as it happens, but seems to be alive if not exactly well in the dream...)

Sometime around dinner, I notice that the large red bird from before has gotten into the house. It's flying around erratically, occasionally smashing things, and very successfully evading my attempts at capture. I'm scared to even approach a bird that large, but what else can I do? Several hours of mostly futile chasing ensue. I notice it's staying upstairs now, and resolve to collect myself, have a snack and then go back to it with a little more energy. My grandmother is sitting on the couch this whole time, too stunned to speak or act.

That's when I realize we're not alone.

There's another bird in the house now, a marabou stork as tall as myself, stinking of carrion and out for blood. It's trying to stalk me from around the corners, and if it can't get me it'll happily go after grandma. The huge woodpecker is still flapping around and making a mess, the stork won't let me get a moment's rest and I'm stressed out beyond all capacity for thought, too numb to even be afraid for my life. My heart is racing!

So I negotiate. I know on some level the stork isn't real (although the danger it poses is), and I am trapped with it until I find a way to respond. But if it's not a real monster, it must be special effects. Which means it has off-camera vulnerabilities! So all I have to do is...reach around behind the frame of my own vision, and...twist in the right spot...

It works! The marabou stork has been subdued, and falls apart, revealed for a complicated, electronic armature. I spare another thought to render the woodpecker smaller, pinker and more shy, and then cup it gingerly in my hands and release it out the open door, which I slam. Shuddering but with relief-adrenaline, I walk into the living room where my grandmother is putting on a DVD of Breaking Bad. I note the clock; it's 2am, and if she tries to watch one episode she'll marathon the whole disc before passing out on the couch. I gently remind her to be careful not to stay up all night, even as I know it's probably hopeless and she'll almost certainly stay up out of sheer inertia. Whatever. I'm too tired. The mess can wait, and while she'll be sore and cranky if she wakes up like that, what else can I do? You can't make someone sleep. I go to bed.

It sort of works. I wake with the sun, or nearly so. It's much too early, but the cat wants fed anyway, and I'm unspeakably haggard from last night, so I feed her and go outside into the garden. Someone has begun harvesting early vegetables (possibly I am too tired to recognize the efforts of my own past self!), with a huge bright yellow carrot and some gorgeous corn, squashes and tomatoes tempting me on to do some more work. I do it mindlessly, pulling and picking and scrubbing the soil off as I think idly about my commitments for the day. Doctor's office, social obligation. Two suburbs at extremes, and it's just barely possible to do both things. So...

I don't. I scrub clean the carrots until the brilliant yellow and purple beauties almost glow in the sunlight, and then with a sense of resignation, I get up and go back to sleep. I stir some hours later, thinking of the vegetables and what uses I'll put them to. It occurs to me it's now much too late to meet any of my commitments for the day, but I am literally too tired to care. As the sun sets again, I go back to sleep.


--Rustling Leaves


I see a big contrast between the simplicity of the dream and the complexity of your notes--and life. The dream's proposed solution seems direct to me: when tired, rest. Quit trying. Disappoint 'em (it's not like you ever satisfy 'em anyway). Your life's complex problems have honed powerful juggling skills, but master jugglers rest up between acts. When you let go of obligation, beauty flares up. The vegs glow. The doors of perception are cleansed.

I think you underrate your dream-skills (maybe other skills too. Fat equals stupid and poor equals stupid squared, right? ) It's rare to achieve the restrained lucidity that lets you merely tweak the dream, not either grossly reshape it or just wake up as so many overenthused lucid dreamers do. But restraint can go too far. I used to have what I called underhand lucid dreams--I refused to change nightmares, grimly trying to learn from them.

Consider a spectrum of lucid dreamers, from...

  1. Happiness junkies: pain-averse, impatient with difficulty... in the past, these folks often ignored dreams. But today, some want to learn lucidity and treat their dreams as cheap vacations (or drug trips). Others learn one interpretive system (preferably New Age) and use that to wall out all the shadows they should be learning from. In the end such dreamers' dreams are dull.
  2. Dreamers who like challenges: they recognize some pain and frustration is inherent in growth, but won't stand for abuse and see frustration dreams and nightmares as signs they're doing something wrong. Dreams here in the middle tend to be adventures--and educational.
  3. Nightmare sufferers: trapped in repeated warnings they can't act on effectively (may not know how to read the warnings, or may lack the resources to act, or are pain junkies, or only feel virtuous when suffering). But scattered among these trapped souls are some stoics who could change their dreams but just won't. These dreamers mine for insight and expect prospecting to be rough. Most of this group are severely gifted.
I grew up an extreme stoic, but crept to the center as I learned my chronic health problems worsened if I felt too much pain; these days I rest more and have less patience with stalkers or frustration dreams. I'd call you stoic, though not as extreme: you spend hours frustrated, but eventually do what you have to to get some rest.

Do I advise heading for the middle? Yes. Not to sappiness (America so needs more big spoiled babies). But indulge your feelings more. Your waking life is complex, and solving its problems forces you toward stoicism just to get through; your dreams reflect that restraint, I think, when they can and should be a lab where you're free to practice drastic un-stoicism. I'm unsure what that shadow side of you might be--irascible or surreal or whimsical or simple or lazy...

Resting when tired.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: dream storks and birds in general - giving and generosity - food - house and home - hunted! - fears and anxieties - monsters - robots - lucid dreams - dream puns - fruits and vegs - beauty - workaholism and burnout - false waking and nested dreams - more by Rustling Leaves: The Mountain, The Magpie, and the Road - Patagia

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