Taken in Kyoto last month on the grounds of The Silver Temple.
It is sometimes in the farthest reaches of our minds, in those wee hours of the night when we are in our deepest moments of sleep, when the most profound messages come calling to us. There are mornings I wake up with a dream from the night before re-playing itself vividly in my brain, and it stays with me so intently throughout the day that I am still thinking of it when I go back to bed that night, sometimes even wishing I could dive right back into that experience. It is one of those quirky hobbies of mine to intrepret dreams, and while I don't claim to be any kind of expert I have found it usually isn't terribly difficult to understand the symbolism, hidden meanings and clues that exist in all of our dreams.
In a dream I had the other night, there was someone I knew who was sick and dying, and another friend who was taking care of him. While this was never said out loud, it was understood she was going to take care of him until he died. All the other players in the dream, including myself, knew that she was deeply in love him and he with her, but they had some kind of unspoken agreement to not act on their love or even say it out loud because he was going to die and that would be too hard for both of them. There was a certain contentment [read: safety] in this decision, but just beneath the surface they both held deep longings for something more.
As a group of us were walking together, I was walking with my friend and telling her that she absolutely, positively had to share this love with him, that I knew it would lead to the most painful experience of her life but that she had no choice, she had to take advantage of this time with him no matter what. After this exchange the dream gets fuzzy, but that particular part of it was crystal clear. I was adamant, speaking to her in a way that was not consoling or pleading or especially sympathetic; I was practically admonishing her, talking to her as if she were a ten year old girl resisting her homework and I had to get the point across that without learning how to spell she would never succeed in life. I was on the edge of being downright angry.
I believe this is one of humanity's greatest struggles - to love openly and deeply without concerning ourselves with any possible future pain. Perhaps we have been hurt in the past, or we know someone who was devastated by loss. We have friends who we believe deserve only goodness and joy, but who have been thrust into the depths of despair by betrayal and selfishness. We all have our stories, we all have our walls, we all have moments where the earth fell out from beneath us because we believed something to be true, or to be impossible, and then in one quick instant our deepest faith is shattered. Where to go from those dark moments in order to get back into the light?
The place I always go to in those moments is a space of believing I am totally alone, that without this particular person or that particular trust I am woefully, permanently alone. But the truth is that nothing could be farther from the truth, and in reality there are many more moments between humans that have love and positive energy than not. It might be the most frightening thought to think of losing our dearest loved ones, but no matter how great a certain loss is - a loss of a friend, of a belief, of a trust - there will always be and endless well of light in our lives. The friendly woman at the grocery store, the waiters who know you and take good care of you at your favorite restaurant, the blogger you've never met in person but whose words give you comfort everyday...all of these people and more provide light, provide hope. They might not be able to soothe your deepest wounds or give you the answers you may be searching for, but in noticing those tiny exchanges of goodness you can open yourself up to morsels of support everywhere you go.
We may sometimes feel as if we are in a dark tunnel all alone, but if we can find the strength to light just one match, the truth will emerge that we are actualy surrounded by love and support. Our physical selves may be alone in a room, but if we go inward, we can find shelter from our storms. The shelter of a thousand bright green leaves, each one a thought, a wish for our well-being, a hope for our healing, from all over the universe.
"The simple act of accepting a stranger's wish for our happiness empowers us to experience the world in a completely different way." -John Maransky