Dreamed 1991/6/9 by Chris Wayan
I was reading Winged Pharaoh, by Joan Grant: an account of her childhood in ancient Egypt. No, really: Grant was a past-life channeler. Also a pretty good writer (a protegee of H.G. Wells), a pioneer therapist working with shellshock victims of World War I, and an archeologist (sensing what's underground was handy, both on digs and when dealing with shellshock.) In Pharaoh, she recalls living in very early Egypt, and writes about it as if it were her summer vacation.
According to Grant, the ancient Egyptians believed that when you die, the Forty-Two Assessors judge your life. Some of their 42 questions bother me--any incest, homosexuality, or bestiality automatically bars you from paradise, for example. You have to come back here and live right, according to the forty-two rules. Which don't include ones like "Are you kind? Are you tolerant of others?" Egyptian religion sounds as rigidly rule-bound as medieval Catholicism, or American lawsuits.
What a great concept of hell: your soul fingered and picked apart by lawyers.
Just before sleep, as I often do, I ask my dreams what they think of this. Not just narrow-minded angels judging us when we die, but the broader question: "Have I lived before? If so, show me!" I was raised in America so I'm skeptical, but a few hundred psychic dreams have made me a bit slower to point and laugh at weird ideas.
I'm hiking in mountains I've seen before. The Wind River Range, the Grand Tetons? Over four thousand meters up--even the trailhead was nearly three. The path leads along a wooded slope. I want a broad view of the main range, but the trail stays below the ridgecrest, and the big peaks are on the far side. Frustrating! Finally I reach a little spur that goes straight up the ridge to the top. It's eroded and looks like a shortcut; usually I refuse to add to erosion, but at the junction I find a trailsign--it's an official trail, just badly maintained. I quit feeling guilty and slog up it, to the top. Steep and slow.
What a view! Across a deep gulf sprawls a spectacular white range--the Sierra Nevada! I see why Muir called it the Range of Light. Jagged, snowy, immense spires and glacial domes, vast cathedral-canyons like Yosemite... I can see hundreds of miles, from Lake Tahoe to the left past Mount Whitney on the right.
Strange, though... I have the odd sense it's really a vast sweep of TIME, not space. A timeline, to be read left to right!
Suddenly, I feel wobbly on the cliff-edge. The spot I stand on is bare warm-toned rock a yard wide, more a point than a ridge. Either it's vibrating or my body's shaking involuntarily with fear. I sit, but the shaking persists. Fear I'll fall if it gets worse, so I look away from the Range of Light and the dropoff beneath me. If it's vertigo, seeing nearby things should calm me. Behind me, just below, is a small amphitheater with wooden benches. A ranger is lecturing to a small audience, telling canned little jokes.
But while I focus on him and my camera, I'm wasting my hard-won moments on this viewpoint of the range of time. I turn around again... to find the crag-tip is a sort of elevator platform, imperceptibly creeping me down off the Viewpoint. Already the full range of my past lives are hidden again! I want to go back! At least I know now the wobble wasn't my own fear, wasn't me at all.
But how to get off? It's not just a platform now, it's a tour bus. That ranger with the corny jokes is driving, and when I say "Let me off!" he won't stop! Keeps on until he reaches the park staff housing, a mile or more from the viewpoint.
The ranger starts to quiz me. Says he's a Mormon, and I should be too.."Have you found Jesus? Have you accepted the Spirit?"
I'm insulted. How dare he push his faith on the job like that! Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? But I don't want to fight, so I stay minimally polite and answer. "Clarify that question: what are the signs of a person with Spirit? I'm no Christian and your terms don't mean much to me." We circle, warily probing like this for some time, as the shuttle winds through housing and stops in a small town. At last! The end of the loop. Time to go back.
He says "All out. End of the tour".
Two miles now from my viewpoint! I'm mad--I EARNED that view, in effort and sweat! But he won't budge. One-way ride. One I never asked for.
I get off the bus and look for a shuttle that WILL take me back, at least to the trailhead. I notice big signs steering me (and other tourists) to paying tourbuses, not the free shuttles all the locals use. Big signs point to pay phones too, decoying tourists from (free) local phones hidden behind trees. I'm fair game, that's clear.
I see a bus down the street and run for it. Someone ahead of me is running too, and the bus slows for them; I feel a surge of hope and run all-out.
But the air around me thickens like glue, holding me back!
I KNOW that if I turn around and run backwards, the resistance will fade... it's programmed to hold slow you down but can be fooled. But if I turn round, the bus driver will think I don't want on, and he'll drive off. I keep facing the bus and push hard against the glue...
My sandal breaks. I go down. The bus drives off.
I start crying in frustration and rage... and then realize I wasn't all that sure that bus was the right one! The resistance could have been protecting me from YET ANOTHER detour! I just don't know...
I wake disgusted. Saw my past lives, and let the Mormons pull the ground right out from under me.
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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