The Serendipity of Dreams

Once in a very long time I have dreams that are fantastic extravaganzas. These dreams frequently involve levitation, and I love it.

Fearlessly, I leap from buildings or precipices and soar through the sky. Sometimes I zoom, effortlessly. Other times, I keep aloft by swimming motions. Confidence is what it takes. It's easy when you're sure of yourself, at least in a dream. Both types of flying seem to work equally well but I like the zoomers best.

My levitational dreams started in a more modest way many years ago. In a typical episode, I would be walking along a neighborhood sidewalk, perhaps near where I lived at the time. I would become aware of the parallel seams in the concrete, the expansion joints, and I would start running. As I approached one of the cracks, I would take off in a great jump, in the manner of a broad jumper, retract my legs and fly over the ground like the greatest trackman who ever lived. Better than that, I would go skimming along over the sidewalk for half a city block.

When I finally landed I would be in an exuberant mind-boggling mood and I would think that the whole world soon would become aware of my amazing ability.

From sleep mixed with dreams I emerge to the unruffled serenity of wakefulness. Once there, I float above and under the surface, take a few final plunges back into lethargy, review my dreams, realize even in a half-dream state that they are gossamer, that mostly they will dissipate like the gossamer fantasies they are..

Thus, for a few moments before arising, my mind gently ebbs and flows, sloshes back and forth as with the tides; my senses plumb ocean depths at will, then bob serendipitously upward again toward the light.

I think of Written Rock and Leaning Lena, those wonderful outcroppings of sandstone in the Clear Creek Valley, and I wonder at the significance and spirituality of their attraction to me.

I think how fortunate I am to have become interested in birds.

I think of my increasing age, the few things that I have achieved, the many projects that still remain undone. Sometimes, I consider the miserable state of the world, but then dismiss such dreary thoughts, absolutely determined that I will not become a curmudgeon.

Mankind has always been in turmoil, I rationalize. Humans have always lived in perilous times. It has ever been, I suppose, and ever will be. A pessimistic way to look at things, but comforting. All of this coming and going through my head, half awake, half asleep.

Lazily, my mind swirls through the dreams of a few minutes before, skews this way and that, captures bits and pieces of dreams from times past, recollects them in various degrees of obscurity.

The dreams drift like starfish, silvery and transparent, swirling through shadowy depths until they metamorphose into schools of brightly colored tetras darting this way and that; then become sluggish crustaceans sidling through beds of coral, only to assume the dim shadowy shapes of a herd of dimly perceived cetaceans which suddenly, paradoxically, evolve into a flock of white ibis fluttering in a cloudless sky.

My departed mother resides in these unknown spaces that on occasion become so clear that I can see life-years away. I have never encountered my father in a dream which is rather strange because I was four-and-a-half-years old when he tumbled out of a hotel window one hot August night in Pittsburgh.

He was in his BVDs, I have been told, sitting on the wide, low ledge of a big window in his room. No doubt trying to keep cool. Smoking Camels. It was in the days before air-conditioning. It was in the days before my memory had a chance to catch hold, but I do remember him, mostly in isolated little vignettes scattered through those far-away years.

Ironically, the morning the Western Union boy knocked on the door with the telegram telling us that he was dead - that was when my memory really kicked in. Everything before that was a grab bag of random snapshots and snippets.

The funeral service was at my maternal grandparent's house, just a block and a half away from where we lived in Grandview, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The open casket was in the living room, set in the recess of the front bay windows. I discovered that by going halfway up the stairs in the hall I could see my father's face. I sat there a long time before someone came along and found me.

Is it because of the way my father died that during most of my adult life I have had countless levitational dreams? Am I flying around in the night skies trying to save him?
Is this why I have had a nearly life-long interest in birds? So that I can fly?

But my mother, I see my mother all the time. At different ages. Both of us, is what I mean. Sometimes I am a child, sometimes an adult. Sometimes she is very old like she was in her last years. Other times our ages change every which way. I can be a child, like I said, and she is quite young or youngish middle-aged, and there she is as if nothing had happened, as if all the intervening years never even happened and, if I didn't know better, I could swear she was alive.

At times, when she is old, I sometimes have trouble telling if I am dreaming about my mother or my grandmother. They were so much alike.

My mind is a scrapbook, a photo album with new pictures showing up all the time, pictures that move. And talk to me.