“… [T]he prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East.” Alan Watts, The Book of Knowing Who You Really Are
Your first word was light.
It’s ironic that you grew up to wear such a dark costume. I guess it wasn’t a costume as much as it was a uniform.
When you were home you wore a tee shirt and shorts with your flip-flops and your hair in a pony tail and you looked relaxed, friendly even.
But when you went out you put on several layers of chains and your skull and cross bone ties, the all black button-down shirts, black pants, black Fedora, knives in your pocket, and the face. You put on the face that said, “Don’t fuck with me.”
But I knew you.
I didn’t always know you. Aside from when you were a child, I saw the uniform, the tough guy and didn’t get to know the tender hearted guy underneath until the last two years of your life.
It’s all about perspective. Isn’t it? One shift in perspective can change everything. We can wake up.
Dreaming or awake, I think that is the thing to be. Right now, I am awake, so it feels right and true.
It seems like other states of consiouness are not as important because they are not immediate.
What if dreams and altered states of consciousness are fields of potential scattered over space and time like a beam of light scattered over the atmosphere.
What if, even before you are born, and after you die, you are light, or energy in a field of uncertainty where life and death are alternately particle and wave?
I am just daydreaming now which is an important and useful state of consciousness, because we don’t always know how we know what we know; we just have to wait and be open to whatever comes to us.
I wish I could have shared with you a revelation I had the other day. You would have loved it.
I was trying to sketch a candle flame on a scrap of paper, to capture the concept of divine love as a flame. It seemed like the candlelight was hugging the flame.
I kept drawing the lines over and over, trying to get it right.
All of a sudden, I realized that light attracts light like a magnet. I knew instantly, instinctively, that light would cling to itself. I could almost feel the magnetic pull.
It was such a strong knowing! I had to validate it. I did a Google search about light and electromagnetic energy and discovered that photons are indeed cohesive.
I used other source information to back up what I intuited, but I learned about the cohesive properties of photons by drawing a candle flame and daydreaming deeply about divine love!
Night dreams are valuable too.
Some people can train themselves to tap into the power of dreams to help solve everyday problems.
I have a friend in Finland whose cat got lost in a snowstorm. My friend is a lucid dreamer.
He went to bed after posing the question, “Where is my cat?” He dreamed that the cat was in an old pig barn not too far away.
When he woke up the next day, he went there to find the cat.
No luck at first.
But he started asking around and someone said they had seen the cat in the pig barn.
He went back and searched again. This time he found the cat hiding in the rafters. She was thin and scared, but okay otherwise.
He found his cat by using information he’d gleaned from a lucid dream.
I want to dream about you, Nick, so I can find you, tell you I love and miss you, tell you how proud of you I am.
I want to believe that death is just a trick of the light, a shift in the energy of consciousness.
When a beam of light hits the atmosphere, molecules of gas break it up; they scatter it. The short, blue waves are what you see hanging around in the sky.
The other rays of the spectrum are not gone, you just don’t see them.
Maybe that is what happened when you died, Nick. You hit Death’s atmosphere and your light was scattered. I can’t see you but that does not mean you are not here.
I like patterns and rhythm. I make stuff up all the time just for the flow of sound, for the click and pound, for the sharp and round of the ups and downs. It helps me think.
So, does the world my senses show me portray the world that is as it is, or do I create my reality?
You call that table green, so it is green. But what looks green to me is not green to Tim. Everything green looks brown to him. So do we have a problem with reality, or perception?
It’s cold. It’s hot. It’s late. No, it’s not. You’re a flake. You’re deep. You make me sick. You make me think. It all makes sense if you get far enough away, or close enough, look through a microscope, dig deep, go to sleep. Ask Freud what he thinks. Or better yet, cause you still Jung, dream a little dream to meditate upon.
During your last two years on the planet we got to watch stand up comedy almost every night. You lived in apartment 9 and I lived in 11 so we were right next door to one another.
There was a comedian we liked who did a bit about a kid asking why the sky is blue. His name is Harland Williams. He says this kid comes up to him, tugs on his sleeve, and says, “Hey Mister, why is the sky blue?” And Harland starts to tell him some tall tale but you jump in and say, “because of the scattering of light over macro-dynamic-mighty molecules – because the molecules pick up the blue light rays that come in to the atmosphere, and that is why the sky appears blue.
Williams looks at you, dumbfounded.
Quentin Tarantino snaps the black and white clapperboard shut and says, “That’s a wrap.”
Still staring at you he says, “Oh, sorry dude.” Then you fade to black.
There is canned laughter and I am beginning to realize this must be a dream. I look at the back of my hand. Old habit.
Without pause, the dreamscape changes.
We are walking down the hall of the apartment building together and a neighbor says “Hello, Nick.”
You swear he is using a disparaging tone of voice.
It was like we were in two worlds because we could be in the same hallway, experiencing the same set of circumstances and I’d see it one way and you would see it another way altogether.
You’d interpret the greeting “Hello, Nick.” to mean that the neighbor thought he was better than you and that he was disrespecting you –that he had to make some statement about the way you dress, had to say something about the hat you were wearing or the tattoos all over your body or the skulls on your person or whatever it was that you thought people were judging you harshly for. I think it’s safe to conclude that your experience of life was torturous.
I thought he was just being friendly.
I had a dream before you were born, and because of that dream, I knew it would be hard for you in this lifetime; You knew it too. We both knew what we were signing up for and we agreed it would be worth it in spite of the hardship.
We’d agreed to forget the details of the prenatal dream after our conversation in the delivery room. The lesson wouldn’t have had the same impact if we knew ahead of time what was going to happen. So even though I couldn’t remember the particulars, I never forgot the dream.
I was in the delivery room and a baby was lying on my belly, only he could talk like (a very wise) adult. We had a detailed conversation about how he could help me during this lifetime and how I could help him. It was exciting to think we could work together, to think of all we could learn. We also knew that our life together would be terribly difficult, but that every second of it was going to be worth it. We agreed that we would have to forget the conversation in order for the lessons to take hold. At the end of the dream we forgot all the details.
“WAKE UP! WAKE UP, NICK!” I shouted and shook you, desperate to come between you and a seizure. Whispering on another level, “Remember why you are here, Please, Nick.”
And you would say, “I’m trying, I’m trying.”
I used to beg you to try to remember why we were here when things were bad. Sometimes if I could wake you up as you were starting to seize it would stop the seizure.
You’d come to, weak and trembling, not sure what had transpired.
Sometimes darkness took you, beat the hell out you, tried to kill you, choked you, turned your face blue, tore up your mouth, knocked out your teeth, cut your head, twisted your neck, bruised your back, and scraped your legs and ankles raw. And there were realms and caverns of suffering in you that I couldn’t even fathom.
So when the neighbor said hello, I wanted to offer him a cup of tea and a little Reiki maybe.
But you interrupted the very same greeting as a threat.
I always said there is more than one reality and you said, “No! There is only one reality!” It made you very angry to think of alternate scenarios for the way things were for us, even though you were highly imaginative and came up with all kinds of possible situations for characters in your art.
Einstein said we have to decide if the universe is a friendly place or unfriendly, and you believed it was neither, but that people were just assholes. I always argued that people were basically good; you said people were just out to take what they could.
Your seizures made you rage. The nurse at the children’s hospital in L.A. explained that intense rage was just part of the seizure itself, that after the petit mal or grand mal, a person might feel any number of things, and you happened to feel angry.
You were five when the doctors figured out that the staring spells and weird behaviors were seizures. Before that, everyone thought you were being rude. It makes me angry to think that you were sick, and everyone thought you were just a bad kid. And you couldn’t remember the seizures so you couldn’t figure out why people were upset. What a confusing world that must have been! One minute you were watching Scooby Doo or M TV and the next minute people were yelling at you for no reason apparent to you. Or later, they were putting you in in restraints. Or they were putting you in jail and spraying you with pepper spray.
When you were five you went into status epilepticus which meant that you were seizing and not coming out of the seizure. They flew you and your teddy bear from Lancaster to Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. Tim and I were divorced by then. I was married to John. John and I drove in what seemed like cartoon style traffic to meet you there because they would not let us go in the helicopter. Someone, a nurse, told me we were connected to you through our prayers. I’m guessing it was nurse. Maybe it was an angel. They pinned wings on your teddy bear. You were still unconscious when we got to L.A.
I felt helpless.
When you were a baby, I could rock you and nurse you and protect you from everything, but I didn’t know how to protect you from seizures and not even the doctors knew what to do.
You kept going to the window, talking to someone out there. We were six stories up. Who were you talking to?
If someone asks me what I want, I have to tell them the truth.
I want to wake up under a tree like Siddhartha.
I want to fly like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
I want to be like St. Francis of Assisi who asked an almond tree to speak to him of God and watched it bloom in the dead of winter.
I know in my bones that the dreams of my heart are possible; I have experienced enough miracles to know that I would have missed them had I not had the receptivity to see them.
Some people may think conscious only goes so far, but I say, let’s see how far!
I heard something on Youtube the other day about Tibetan monks who practice lucid dreaming to attain enlightenment. They have been doing dream yoga for over 1000 years and draw fruits from their purposeful hypnagogia that scientists can measure with graphs and scales. I learned how to lucid dream when I was 18 by staring at the back of my hand while I fell asleep with the intention of remembering to look at my hand while dreaming. That was the first step toward conscious control of dreaming. Once I gained control, I had hoped to learn all kinds of things by dreaming about cool people like yogis and saints; I wanted to do things I couldn’t normally do while awake.
But I lost interest in trying to control what seemed to be more suited for free association. Dreams are not usually something you work at; they are gifts; the dream of you was a gift that I cherish more than ever now.
Where does the stuff we dream up come from? I wouldn’t say my own dreams come from myself because my first important dream, the Lion Dream, happened when I was four and there is no way I could have made up a dream as complex as the Lion dream at four.
I couldn’t understand it all then, not enough to verbalize it or tell anyone about it. But I never forgot it.
It took me years to unpack it.
I dreamed it was the end of the world. I could tell it was the end of the world because the ocean had flooded the city and the sidewalks were buckled into little pyramids. All the houses were destroyed. The people and animals were gone. Everything was gray. Except for one house where I was hiding in the kitchen. The house belonged to a lady named Mary. She had skin the color of polished mahogany and she had a serious face with a soft smile. It was her house, her kitchen. There were two giant lions who padded through the house. I could hear the sound their paws made as they went through every room checking to make sure no one could see me. I had been split into many separate versions of myself and I was hidden in the different cabinets in Mary’s kitchen. The lions made sure none of my toes were sticking out and that no one could find me.
I’ve always thought that to die is not the worst thing. If my body dies, there is a light inside of me that goes on and I know this to be true ( for me) because I have been so close to death. I have had so many close calls. I woke up in ICU more times than I like to remember, angry about being there, but glad now, of course. It is so stupid to want to kill yourself.
I had this dream the other day about being in the old house on North Abilene.
I was in the bathroom and I really had to pee! The room was just like I remembered it and I was a little apprehensive only because the cellar door was behind the bathtub and it always gave me the creeps.
I noticed water gushing out of the water faucet in the bathtub, so I got up and struggled a little to get it turned off. The water was clear and clean; it was very cold.
When the water was off, I noticed a lady in the bathtub. I didn’t recognize her and thought it was weird to have a stranger bathing in grandma’s tub. Her bathwater was all milky from having used so much soap.
I headed toward the door (at a casual pace which means I wasn’t scared) and she got out of the water and put on a clean, white, terry cloth bathrobe.
I turned and asked her, “Are you a ghost?”
“No.” She said. “But you are.”
We are never finished learning.
I wish you could see that.
But DAMMIT Nick! Your last words to me were “If you have your mother in your life, I can’t have you in mine!” And then YOU DIED! That is so not fair! That is so not fair. How can you say that I can’t have my mother? I love my mother. I need my mother. And I need my son! I need you BOTH. How could you say those words to me and then die?
I know. I know. Of course, you didn’t know when you said it that those would be your last words to me. If we could pick our last words, they would be different, right? We might pick funny last words.
You’d probably quote your favorite comedian, Reggie Watts, “Molecular structure ain’t nothin’ but a thing.”
If only we could choose our last words.
One neurologist explained that there are four stages of sleep, and that when most people get to stage four, they dream. But when you get to stage four, you have seizures.
I remember walking you to the bus on the first day of kindergarten. You had on a He Man tank top and Red shorts. You had a He Man lunch box. You were holding my hand. You said, “Mom, I don’t want to have seizures.”
You grew dark as you grew older. You wore your heavy metal, bloody gore, skulls and devils, your zombies and death themes; you defended darkness and when I asked you why, you waited to answer.
At the end of a long day, you asked in a humble way, “Did you ever think that some of us had to choose the darker way so that the rest of you could shine? If there was no night, how would you see the stars?”
I was silent, for once in my loud life.
You didn’t want me to move in with my mother, but I felt like it was the right thing to do. I had a longing for her that made me feel homesick all the time. I was hoping I could help her with things now that she is elderly and we could mend our broken relationship at the same time. At least that is what I say. I don’t know if it was at all a rational or thought out decision.
You said you wouldn’t talk to me anymore because if I had my mother in my life then you couldn’t have me in yours. You said she was bad for me, that she would hurt me and you couldn’t stand by and watch it happen.
So when you didn’t pick up the phone, I thought you were just angry.
Days went by. After a week I was worried.
The police called.
Even now, a year later, the March wind stirs sand into miniature dust devils on the patio. It steals my breath; I gasp for air.
It is not fair. To love one person, to try to repair one relationship and lose another forever.
To never hear you laugh at something Bill Burr says just sucks.
But when I despair, I feel you kick me in the shins like you did under the table at La Paz.
That day at La Paz was amazing. It was the first time I felt your presence since your passing. It was your birthday, so I went with a friend to your favorite restaurant. I was trying to tell her it was your birthday but I accidentally said breath-day instead. It was then that I felt a rush of energy; it seemed to be a sign that wherever you were, you were okay. It was your breath day.
I was talking to my friend about not knowing what to do without you and I felt you kick me in the shins! It was like I’d been kicked by a beam of light.
You wanted me to know you are right here with me, just in a different way now.
I can still hear you play your guitar while you wait for the green flare at sunset.
You told me why you play your guitar while watching the sunset every day. You said there is an old myth that sailors tell that if you see a green flare in the rays of the setting sun you will see the face of you worst enemy. You were convinced it would be your own face you would see.
You kept watching and didn’t look away.