In the dream I am dead. My current physical body has ceased to function and exist. My awareness, though, is watching my mother’s kitchen. She is talking to my grandmother and aunt. She is distraught. She wants to bring me back, and my grandmother knows someone who claims to sell something that can do just that. A bobble of sorts. My aunt is skeptical, but my mother insists on attempting it. My grandmother arranges for the purchase of this resurrecting trinket.

In order for the object to work, they are told, a ritual must be performed. The three woman pulled a bookcase into the doorway between the kitchen and living room of the house and placed the trinket on a shelf. They performed a ritual the details of which I cannot recall. Tears were shed.

I watched all of this from a penumbral setting, and upon completion of the ceremony a man dressed all in white appeared. Calling him a man is an assumption. He had what I’ve been enculturated to consider a masculine vibe. He had the shape of a man, and carried himself with a menacing sense of authority.

To say that he was dressed in white is also to assume. It was impossible to tell whether he was wearing a garment or whether he was simply composed of the off-white, canvas substance covering him. If it was a garment, it all consisted of one piece and had no visible seams or separations except perhaps in the wrinkles in his face. Calling it a face is a stretch as well. The white canvas of his body continued into a slightly pointed mass above his shoulders, which had furrows giving the subtle appearance of personality.

The canvas-man spoke, though in that dream-like way where it is impossible to tell if vocalizations were uttered or if the message was simply conveyed into my understanding. A rite had been invoked, he said. A supplication solicited. There was an intersection in my path, a choice to be made. To truly make that choice, he must test me. Not so much to determine my eligibility for one direction over another, as to reveal my desire to myself. By way of formality, he apologized for the severity of the test. It would push the limits of my discomfort. That was, I supposed, its purpose.

The canvas man proceeded to subject me to every type of suffering theretofore imaginable by me, yet he did not actively do anything to me. Indeed, aside from having introduced the context for what I was about to experience, there was no reason for me to believe that he was in fact doing anything to me. It was not like he proceeded to flog me, or forced me to watch my loved one’s suffer. It was more terrible than that. Rather, I experienced the sensation and emotion of every form of suffering that I could conceive of. This happened all at once, and yet all individually. It lasted both forever and no time at all.

In the paradox of this torture, it was unclear when he asked me the question presenting the choice I was to make, or if it was asked at all. Was it him who asked, or was it me? Was there a difference? I could not tell. What I knew was that I could stop these sensations at any time and doing so would answer the question and make my choice clear.

Instead, I persisted and endured the whole range of torment without wavering. At some point in the experience, if it can be said to have had points, my awareness expanded beyond the immediacy of my suffering and took in a greater whole. This suffering, like everything, was simply part of something larger. It was one side of a coin.

At that moment, I realized what an opportunity this choice was, to start again yet knowing more. I knew my goal was to expand in love by living and learning, and that every moment and every suffering offered this choice if I could see it.

The canvas man melted into a silvery, reflective pool on the floor. My perspective changed; a gut-wrenching tilt as if the focus point of gravity had shifted. The puddle was no longer on the floor below me, but was in front of me some distance away, as if projected up on a wall. It took on a rectangular shape, and horizontal lines started to form across it. The lines thickened and took on depth, and protrusions appeared above them.

In that moment, realization struck me. Looking through the shimmering pool, I identified that mystical bobble sitting on the shelf. The background came into focus. It was my mother’s living room. The three women, aunt, mother, and grandmother, were sitting in antique wicker chairs in a circle, weeping and consoling each other.

I yelled out to them, but the glassy portal seemed out of reach. A large, menacing, unknown object lay between me and it. The test had been completed. The choice lay bare before me, and yet I could taste fear in my mouth. I had conceptualized the choice, but it still had to be made. Resolved, I leaped onto the unknown object and catapulted myself through the bookshelf and into the living room, crashing onto the floor. My family screamed out, and once realization hit them, they threw themselves onto me and embraced me in a wash of joyful, incredulous tears. I woke up.
This piece is the first post of my new “Throwback Thursday” series. This was my first blog posting back in December, 2015

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