In this dream, I heard myself saying: I am waking up out of the earth. I wasn’t at all sure what that meant. Was it supposed to be some mythic arising, or was it just another way of seeing myself as so much dirt? Then I realized I’d been sleeping outside – in the ground.
I couldn’t tell how deeply I had been buried, but it seemed quite natural to be sleeping there. I had no trouble getting out of that dark bed. Standing up, I brushed off my clothes but felt terribly dirty, inside and out.
Looking around for water to wash off the rest of the gritty soil, I saw that I was standing on a small bench of land just above a wide river. There were tall shade trees along its banks – enormous cottonwoods amid dense bushes of new willow strands. They broke the sunlight into tiny streaks of color glinting along the slender shoots.
I walked through them to the river’s edge, knelt down and started splashing myself clean. Then I had the strange sensation that this water was somehow filtering into my body through the skin. I looked upstream and saw its clear flow coming toward me and, somehow, right through me.
I stepped back a few feet from the water and suddenly realized that I was that river, that in a strange way I took in its entire length, tributaries and all, right down to the smallest dips of land that carried rains toward it. I imagined its source, my own, high up in the Sierra Nevada’s melting snows, and I felt part of the water trickling downward into the first tiny rivulets.
All these finger flows merged into each other, picking up more and more water from all sides. I seemed to be part of its increasing speed as the onrush filled larger and larger creeks. These were like capillaries leading to veins carrying blood back to my heart then flowing out again.
As this mass of movement and I became a single energy, we crashed into boulders, dropped suddenly down long falls, plunging and roiling through huge pools in foaming confusion. There was a wild, thrilling freedom without the tight binding of bone and muscle. I could be shoved against cliffs only to splash apart, rain back into the main flow and move on.
We thundered across broken rocky beds and surged into the tormenting darkness of a long deep canyon. Finally the whole rush of violent energy spent itself, and I moved quietly with a wide calm river flowing smoothly across the open valley.
Then I knew I wasn’t alone there anymore. The changing river was everyone, at least everyone I knew or had ever known. Merged at some invisible level, all of us – my close family, relations of every generation, friends alive and long gone – were gliding downstream together.
I knew they were there because I heard them. All those voices, mine blending in, were speaking through water. I couldn’t distinguish any words – only a blended, murmuring chorus. We seemed to flow on the sound waves of a single voice.
Then I was standing at the river’s edge again, confused but exhilarated. I felt whole and strong and started off to look for something – I don’t know what it was. Everything was getting vague and dim then.
I snapped awake for real and felt more fully alive than I had for so long. This dream has stayed with me ever since, like calming music.