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Running Bird

Dreamed 1958 by Alder, age eight and a half; illustration by Wayan

At first I'm just a hovering watcher. An endless choppy gray sea, with no land in sight. Gray overcast sky. Rising from the sea, horizon to horizon, runs a line of white marble Corinthian pillars (I know they're Corinthian since we just got tested on that in school. The carved heads of these columns are fancy--Corinthian).

A white dot streaks toward me along the column-line... a huge white bird leaping from pillar to pillar, with human legs and a human face.

My face.

A line of columns rises from a gray choppy sea. A huge white bird with a human face and legs leaps  from one to the next. A ghostly girl in a nightgown hovers, watching. Dreamed by Alder, image by Chris Wayan.
Now I'm both the hovering watcher and the white bird. I run breathlessly, leaping from one column to the next with every step, flapping my wings. Behind me, the pillars fall. It's a domino effect! Each column knocks over the next... and I have to stay ahead of them. I can't pause to look behind me, and in that rough sea I can't even hear them toppling--but the floating watcher, my other self, can see them fall, and lets me-the-runner know how close the wave of destruction is. As the hovering witness, I think "Hmm, this is a problem. Gotta run, can't swim... can I fly?"

I try flapping my great white wings as hard as I can, but I just can't fly. Inexperience, or just too big? And I know that without human arms, I can't swim--if I fall in, I'll drown for sure. But I'm not afraid, just desperately urgent to keep running, keep ahead of the collapse. I'm well ahead so far, but... A brown cliff, blue sky, puffy clouds. A small girl in red dress jumps off the cliff, smiling. Dreamed by Alder, image by Chris Wayan.

NOTE: A FEW MONTHS EARLIER

When I was eight, a grownup told me that I could change my dreams or wake up from them if I wanted to. Nobody used the term lucid dreaming then, and I don't even recall who told me this, but I took that advice to heart, and it soon paid off.

Not long after that, I dreamed I jumped off a high cliff above the sea. At first I shut my eyes in fear, but then recalled I could change things. So I deliberately opened my eyes and just watched the rocks come up. I found I was quite enjoying this and wondered what it'd feel like, going splat. I woke just before I hit. It worked!

After that I was never too afraid in my dreams.

So what I felt here wasn't fear, but a breathless urgency--I had to keep running until I learned to fly. I don't know just what life-skill the dream meant by flying, or why part of me, the watcher, could hover effortlessly while the other me struggled to get off the ground. But whatever it was, the split ran deep--for years in my dreams I've often been an active participant on the ground, OR floated as a passive watcher, but hardly ever flown under my own power.



LISTS AND LINKS: nightmares - I'm Just Not Myself Today! - cross-species dreaming - dream beings - animal people - birds - double selves - ordeals and initiations - races and competitions - hunted, stalked and chased - flying dreams - falling dreams - lucid dreaming - juvenilia - Alder's a flightless bird again in Flock Wisdom - more dreams by (and about) Alder - five years earlier in England, nearly the same bird-girl appears in Nancy Price's dream A Strange Audition

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