I dream of a man with a huge head. He has dark skin and black hair, maybe Italian or Mexican or even of Middle Eastern heritage. His features seem familiar, but I can’t place them. His mouth is frozen open as though he’s in mid-scream, his eyes wide and crazed. But he is talking, animated, somewhere below his face. It’s as if his animated features are semi-transparent and floating beneath his frozen face, his neck and shoulder and upper chest visible behind them. It takes me a while to understand what is happening. At first I think his head is huge and ugly, but then I grow accustomed to it and begin to see what’s going on. I see him standing beside his wife. He is very tall, and his frozen head no longer seems out of proportion. I have the sense that if he continues with his emotional work he’ll be able to unlock his face. It must have frozen in a moment of terror. But I know he can free it up again by thawing, feeling, releasing. Later, I think about how I have my own terrors frozen inside me, and I feel comforted by my certainty that thawing is possible.
I dream I’ve been working in some capacity with a smaller beast and go looking for the big tiger. I open the door to what looks like a high school gym. The tiger appears through an opening on the left. He walks toward me, his gaze fierce. He growls. I stop walking, slowly turn my back. I stoop over, overwhelmed, I think, or about to faint. When I realize what I’m doing, I remember not to be prey, and I straighten. I walk toward the door, and he does not attack. Outside, there is a dog who knows me at the bottom of the steps. He sees the tiger behind me. “No,” I say. My voice is quiet but vehement. I don’t want him to be killed defending me. He quivers but stays still. The tiger takes my right hand in his mouth. I can feel his teeth press against my skin, but he is gentle. He releases me, and I keep walking. I don’t look back until I’m a short distance away. The dog and the tiger are standing beside each other watching me go.
I dream I am in a small walled patio. Large swaths of sheer fabric in green and black billow from a concrete slab overhang. There’s a young woman in her thirties with me. She has dark hair and lots of bangles on her wrist. I watch as a hummingbird flies to her and cuddles on her shoulder in the crook of her neck. I am in awe. Then another one comes to me and settles in. I hold very still. I can tell the little bird is poking around the way they do, comfortable, preening, setting things to right. After, in the dream, I’m trying to describe it to people, and I keep starting over. As I try to tell the story, I keep rubbing the indentation between my collarbone and shoulder where he nestled. Half awake later, I check in the mirror to see if the indentation is there, but it doesn’t look or feel as large as the hollow in my dream. But, oh! To have a hummingbird nestle in like that. Such sweetness. Standing in front of the mirror, I can still feel his soft weight against my skin.
I dream I’m looking up into a vast and starry sky. It is rich with stars the way you see them in the Eastern Sierra, but many of them are even brighter. There are several shooting stars, and stars that grow brighter and then wink out. There’s a man beside me explaining things in a quiet, steady, kind voice. We are facing south, and I see a colorful figure moving across the sky from east to west. “Oh, look!” I say. “Mary Poppins!” I am excited. I look closer and see it’s an inanimate figure of an adolescent on a bicycle. The man beside me tells me all the details about what’s happening, but I can’t remember them all. I am left with the impression there really is someone on their bicycle setting things up for whatever is about to begin. I have the image of a plain metal bicycle basket on the handlebars. Maybe “they” will show a movie in the sky? I feel pure pleasure and childlike glee. The man explains about the popcorn (!!). I don’t know who he is, but I know I like his voice. I have the sense he’s getting pleasure, too. He’s enjoying my reactions.
In November I am gone for three days. When I’m home again, I’m afraid my male hummingbird might not visit me after my absence. But he’s still here! I greet him, and I cry. Twice this morning he comes to my face. I close my eyes but don’t flinch, though the second time he startles me, and my heart does a funny flutter in my chest. Still, having him sit and visit on the back of the chair nearby fills me with a welling joy. I love him. I love these visits. I tell him he makes me feel like my cats made me feel, like I’m the luckiest woman in the world. Bar none. I sit beside him in my courtyard and feel the joy, the tenderness, well up and seep out of me, feel that ache and that fine seesaw line between our 10,000 joys and our 10,000 sorrows. For a moment, I wonder if there is something wrong with me, that I’m wired wrong, that maybe joy should be undiluted. Maybe that humbling awe, that sense of the hugeness of the gifts beyond deserving comes from some faulty circuitry in me. Then I think it is native to our human condition, to being embodied on this planet, to the fleeting nature of things. And then I wonder, how can we not feel unequal to the gifts bestowed, to the marvels of our world? How can we not feel humbled and grateful when we stand beside a mountain, watch a bird stretch her wings, take in the bougainvillea in full bloom? Or by the gift of morning companionship in the tiny form of a hummingbird? Thank you, little one. I’m so glad you’re still here, still making these visits. I’m glad I’m still here, too.
I wait outside for Ian to pick me up before the daylong MBSR retreat. I’m standing on the sidewalk, and I glance back down my little road. I stop a coyote in his tracks. For a moment, we are both still, just looking at each other. He’s so thin it hurts me, and he hasn’t groomed himself. He is starving to death, I think. My neighbor Joel is heading toward me with his two little dogs, so I turn around to warn him about the coyote on our road. When I look again, he is gone. He haunts me, though. Two months later, I can still picture him, his dear, unkempt, emaciated form. And the look in his eyes. He looked beyond exhausted. Despairing, I think, barely able to go on. Looking back, I imagine I even saw a flicker of hope in his eyes when I spoke to him. I’ve sent up prayer after prayer for him. I dream of buying dog food in case I see him again. Was he sick? Are all our coyotes starving now? How can I possibly begin to feed coyotes? (My neighbors would flip.) I wish there’d been time and quiet to just be with him that morning. I loved him in that first moment, but there was no time to cherish him, to know him even for a little while. May he be safe and free from harm. May he have all he needs to heal and thrive. May he live with ease and well being for as long as he wants to. May he die a quiet, easy death whenever he is ready.