Sunday, October 01, 2006

lost dreams

Do dreams get lost? As I sit here, I can look out my window at the moon, glimmering through the branches of the trees. A violin cries softly in the background, notes from the piano gently caressing, lifting the violin's melody upwards. The warm odour of freshly brewed coffee promises its dark bitter heat and comfort.

Roz, the Autumn Cottage Diarist, talked here about the loss of dreams. "Have I lost dreams?" I wondered. Of course I have.

But I have noticed that the journey of my life hasn't been a straight line. More like a spiral, I observe that I often come upon something that reminds me of some part of myself or my dreams that I have lost along the way. Life's journey is not a linear trajectory along a constantly new path. Rather, we go back and forth, around and around, along old and familiar roads, on new errands, in new vehicles, with new outlooks, with new purposes, with new companions.

In the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I first encountered the idea of the "little deaths" that are a part of all our lives.

Every turning point in our lives can be marked, as with the little crosses by the roadside where someone has died. These turning points can seem like a huge loss at times, the death of a loved one, a divorce. And yet, these turning points can also be joyful, the birth of a child, going off to university, marriage. The point is, at each turning towards something, we are also turning away from something, which will be lost; and at each wrenching turn, where we seem to be plunged into sadness, we are also turning towards a new lightness.

That is the tension in every moment, the gain and loss in each experience, the knowledge of the fleeting nature of all of life. That is the exquisite beauty in every breath, every heart beat, every trembling leaf, every sunset; and that is the silver lining on every cloud.

I don't want to admit that I have lost any dreams. I want to hoard every precious one, keep them close, never let them go. But I have to admit that many of my dreams, if not gone, have changed -- I like to think for the better. And then I have to smile at my grasping and I relax.

At times, when I have allowed the violence, the destruction and the sadness of the news to crowd in upon my thoughts, or when my eddying thoughts start snatching up worries to carry around and around, or when despair threatens to suck me under, its so easy to see the loss of dreams everywhere. It seems so unfair.

There's an art to it: somehow, I receive the grace to continue on the journey. I see the little crosses that mark the losses and deaths by the roadside of my life. I lay a flower beside the cross. Sometimes I shed a tear; sometimes I smile. And then I get up and keep going.

Where does the grace come from? For me, it's in the breath of wild things, geese in the sky, leaves fluttering downward from the trees in fall, a bunch of autumn crocus appearing in the garden like tiny kerchiefs of pale pink silk amongs the rich brocade of dying foliage, moist mushrooms on the grassy path, standing on slender stalks. I drink it all in as if I'm dying of thirst. I drink and drink and drink! Suddenly, mysteriously, I can go on. I can even smile and feel at peace.

Roz quoted Wendell Berry, and I'll quote him too:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~~Wendell Berry

3 Comments:

Blogger lené said...

Kati, This is a beautiful post--and timely for me to read. Someone close to me is experiencing one of those little deaths you describe. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and including the words of Wendell Berry too.

12:32 AM  
Blogger lené said...

Kati, This is a beautiful post--and timely for me to read. Someone close to me is experiencing one of those little deaths you describe. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and including the words of Wendell Berry too.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

I often end up reminding myself that just as the good stuff doesn't last, neither does the bad stuff, thank goodness. That gets me through the little deaths. The huge ones, well...they don't last either, but the process takes so much longer, doesn't it?

10:36 AM  

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