What makes a dream? Is it a message from the other planes of existence? Are they alternate realities? Are they just our subconscious flipping through the photo albums of our brains?
I woke up this morning from my trip to Sandman City with fun souvenirs. A lot of it dealt with money, large wads of cash. This isn’t too unusual as I work in a convenience store that does money orders so I tend to handle large stacks of bills and these last two days, I held quite a few Benjamins and Ulysseseseseseseses… (help! help! I can’t stop!) in my meaty paws. These and all bills above the $20 denomination immediately get dropped into a safe for security.
In this dream, I was attempting to count stacks of dollars, but these bills were of a different class: smart money. By that, I mean legal tender with smart technology built in. However, these bills suffered from lax security that made them susceptible to malware, which meant that as I was counting them, ads for porn sites, time shares, and all manner of spammy solicitations popped up over the images of our moneyed dead white men. Did I mention that I lived in a micro-efficiency apartment as well?
One room to bide them all, and in the darkness shrined them.
It was that kind of snooze.
Last month was my birthday. I hit the big ol’ 47. That makes me three years away from 50, which is rather daunting. It means that I’m firmly implanted within middle age and assuming I live as long as my parents did (both made it to 80), my life is more than half over. Maybe it isn’t.
Anyway, I was gifted a $50 Amazon card by a very, very, exceedingly very generous friend and I used it to help purchase my first ever pair of Dr. Marten’s: Bonny Nylon Chukka boots, en noir. I’m still breaking them in and there’s no better place to do that than at work with an eight-hour shift spent entirely on my feet. It’s taking some getting used to but as far as a good pair of hiking boots, I dig them.
After work last night, I trudged the mile or so to the nearest Kroger. My cabinet’s been as bare as Old Mother Hubbard so a major purchase was required. Mostly this is vegetables, fruits, spaghetti, sauce, cheese, and hot sauce (because what’s life without endorphin rushes, right?). Having some money left over, I opted for a case of beer because I do like drinking them and I found a sampler for a reasonable. Having thoroughly depleted my bank account and loaded down with several heavy bags and said case, I trudged off into the night to catch my bus about a quarter of a mile from the shop.
Because I’m of stubborn West Side Cincinnati make, I always soldier one with my groceries by hand and foot. Although it is often tempting, I never sneak a grocery cart from the premises because 1) that’s stealing and 2) I’m a firm believer in karma, that what you put into the world gets reflected onto you.
Across from this particular Kroger is a mega church, known as Crossroads, with a Saturday evening service that was letting out as I made my way through their parking lot — because short cuts are king.
Stubborn, but not intuitive. I say this because I had to stop several times to rest my hands. And because plastic shopping bags aren’t known for their durability, I started to experience rips and tears not even halfway to my destination. The boxes of spaghetti were peaking through the double layers and the large squash I purchased was bearing down on the bottles of hot sauce and by the time I was maybe 50 yards from my bus stop, chaos ensued and a couple bags gave up the ghost.
As I tried to recoup my groceries, and dignity, let’s be honest, I hear someone call from their large white pickup: “Hey, bud. Do you need a ride?”
And that’s how I met Kevin, a worshipper from the said megachurch. Displaying great kindness, he pulled over and offered me a ride back home, to which I gratefully accepted.
My relationship with religion is troubled, at best. I tend to see it as a man-made construction and one that blocks an individual’s path to God (however they determine God to be). It’s also a reaction from a couple of my very Christian siblings who always tell me to give Jesus another chance. And while I appreciate that they are concerned about my eternal soul, I’ve not felt fulfilled by Judeo-Christian constructs. I’ve been reading Buddhism and Taoism for the last few years and I feel more aligned with these Eastern beliefs, even though they clash harshly with this crazy Western world.
As we rode the five or so minute trip to my house, we chit chatted. I told him I was a writer who used to work in local TV and he told me what he did. When religion did come up, I decided to let go of the usual armor I put up with family and just talk freely. He mentioned that it was probably obvious what he believed, to which I joked that he could’ve just been there the free coffee and Wi-Fi, while I spake on my studies into Buddhism, Taoism, and Existentialism. He mentioned reading some Hinduism and how he found the notion of so many gods overwhelming and that the work you needed to do to please them or find whatever salvation was too much for him. It was an incredibly friendly conversation and, though normally guarded against proselytizing and being saved (thanks to one of my sisters), I did not really feel a need to put up any walls.
He talked honestly as did I.
When we got home, he helped me get groceries on the porch and, as we said goodbyes, he asked if he could say a prayer for me. I accepted, not because he got me out of a tight spot or for selfish, but for appreciation and respect for him. As he asked God to give me the courage and confidence to continue my growth as a writer, I prayed along with him and thanked him very voraciously afterwards.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in the things that divide us. I do it quite often, myself. We are shown paths that may not be what we’re interested in, are afraid of, or otherwise bristles against what makes us comfortable. This isn’t to say that all paths are equal, but that shunning them without consideration is foolish. Certainly, there are the obviously dangerous ones and there are the easy cake ones with no reward. It’s the difficult ones, the ones that do require hard work, determination, skill, compassion, empathy, perseverance, are often the most rewarding.
In the words of Terrence McKenna:
“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”