It rained heavily last night for the first time in many weeks. I slept a deep sleep, caught in the sticky web of a dream reality. I was witness and player in a story in evolution. Aspects of my day, and layers of my life, colluded to weave an intricate tale that questioned, who is where and what is real?
And what are you trying to tell me?
As in all good mysteries, clues were revealed, heroes intervened, and the main character had to grow or perish. I wasn’t the only witness, there were “watchers.” These, a less than benevolent crowd, the “watchers” were assembled in steep ascending layers. A shiny puppeteer commanded from the top, his diaphanous body swaying and snapping like a sail out of trim in a high wind. I saw his head tilt back in a soundless cackle and I shuttered. I stepped back then, behind my own eyes, and hoped for a more comfortable reality as the story began.
We, the subjects of their attention, were seated in chairs, there was no talking, no movement. It was hard to stay alert, or even awake. Through heavy lidded eyes I could see a jam-packed room filled with red folding chairs shaped like car seats. I was in one of them. The people seemed to go away slowly over an indeterminate time. The room got smaller, the numbers dwindled, but the small space between us never altered.
Devoid of much stimulation, or reason to be mentally “present,” I wandered. I became aware that others existed outside of this space. Traveling outside my physical form, I checked in on my Mother. We had planned a family dinner, and she was supposed to come. I got the message through sensation that she was sick, very sick, with an “illness.” She was physically weak, but trying very hard to communicate with me through a sort of telepathy. The images were like single pieces of a puzzle, each with a word attached. Unable to transmit the whole story, she hoped the pieces were enough. Trying my best to remember each image, we began with ILLNESS.
I was concentrating on this task when something called me back. Returning my attention to my own body, I realized I was in a very strange state. I was only occasionally conscious. “Maybe it is not just the sender that is struggling, the receiver is weakened as well,” I thought. I understood then that there were overseers watching us in this room. One did nothing to attract attention. This would bring removal. No one saw this, but it happened. I awoke one dark time to realize, but not acknowledge, that Sulu, the character from Star Trek was sitting next to me. The dream world, being the subconscious “free-for-all” that it is, had determined that this character had what I needed, to do whatever it was that I came to do in this very strange place. I returned to my quest to understand what my Mother was trying so hard to tell me.
The word spit out into the air like a chicken bone caught in my throat. RENNET is a part of cheese. She showed me images of cheese making that would elicit this word in my mind. A remarkable feat because I didn’t know that I knew that word. I didn’t know that “animal” rennet is extracted from the bellies of very young, slaughtered calfs, lambs and goats. Dreams images are like that: opportunistic. I began to repeat the word like a mantra of remembering. RENNET RENNET RENNET!
Rennet is a combination of different enzymes that help mammals digest milk. Each animal produces a different type of rennet, therefore specific types are used for certain cheeses, such as kid goat rennet to make goat’s cheese and lamb rennet for sheep’s cheese. It is usually only extracted from the stomachs of young animals, as rennet in older animals contains little or no rennin.
My neighbor Sulu was working on something next door. His mind was busy and loud. I could hear him easily. Without movement or sound, we began our communication.
“My wife is next to me on the other side, she can’t hear me. Something is happening here,” he said soundlessly.
The room remained mostly dark, no movement, no sound. Our numbers were down to about 50 people, a quarter of our original size. Shaking off my stupor, dangling on the cliff of unconsciousness, I listened to his thoughts. I was hearing the voice of George Takei, and the deep throated words of the omniscient reciter/narrator in a production of Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures. I had seen this a while back. It was his voice that I had heard from the small round stage, imparting the history of Japanese coercion by western concerns, giving voice to those standing in front of the cannon. He had my attention.
Sulu was talking fast, as if in hurry to impart all he could. My mind was spinning like an old 33 vinyl record on a player set to 16, a very ponderous speed. This alignment allowed me to hear the messages from a place not so far away where I believed my mother sat, unable to move. I had to leave her to hear him, and that was difficult.
I realized then that there were only a few of us left. A door opened in the back of the room where we were, I focused hard to stay present. Sulu was pushing the nearly inert form of his wife through a doorway and reaching back to pull me through too. An image crashed through mind, a thousand birds in a building like this. BIRDS, I heard as we slipped out through the door.
ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD, ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD
We were outside the building, in the world again. It was dark and cool. We were standing on real dirt, drinking in real air. The cool breeze on my face held a thousand elements. The sounds of wind, leaves, crickets, crashed over me and I was awake for a moment. I could feel the bottom of my feet. My hands began to twitch. I saw a wooden six panel door standing ajar across the grassy alleyway. We went for the opening and Sulu and wife disappeared into the darkness.
I heard voices then, very close. Stepping behind the door, I was careful to make no sound with my feet or breath. The boots sounded heavy even in the greasy earth outside. They dropped something on a broken table leaning by the door and it rattled like a hundred screws in a box. These were the first voices I had heard in a long time. I didn’t really understand the words but in my mind, I saw a picture of a large bird. “BIRD, BIRD!”
It seemed important to stay alert but it was so hard. Did I imagine that these images of birds of prey swirled in the minds of the heavy-footed beings on the other side of the door? A raptor like an Owl or Osprey, Hawk or Eagle with talons extended in flight flashed across my mind. I realized I was the prey and I froze.
They had been gone a long while before I moved. I stepped back to look through the crack at the door jam. I saw the box of “hardware” they had left on a table outside the door. Small blue balls connected in pairs with small links of tiny chain.
ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD, ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD
I pushed the door closed, closing the hasp on the inside silently. Clumps of dirt moved out of the way. The half circle of evidence of change was thankfully on my side of the door. I moved deeper into the darkness of this new room. As my eyes adjusted I realized there were two small cots a few feet apart, each with blankets and a pillow. Sulu stood smiling offer me a cot with the graciousness of a host at a Japanese Ryokan. Had it been days? Or much longer since I had laid down on a bed. I was unconscious again almost immediately.
I felt my Father then. He didn’t have the same type of capacity for communication. His eyes were closed and it was hard for him to maintain contact. I could see his face, but his thoughts were thready and faint when they reached me. “Through the Father” I heard. I thought I understood this as religious fervor. But instead of a religious icon, I saw the spiral used to represent the trail of DNA as we understand it now. A green snake traveling downward through the cosmos, “through the Father.” GENETICS! I heard.
GENETICS RENNET BIRD ILLNESS GENETICS
I repeated the word and I heard voices cheering. I saw a scene from the Apollo 13 movie, buttressed with my personal experience of a tour through the control room at Kennedy Space Center. Was there a NASA-esque control room somewhere monitoring these ethereal communiques? The thought was comforting and unsettling. The witness part of me wondered, “What is at stake here?”
Mom was back “on my radar” and apparently feeling better. It would still be a while before I came to wonder how someone who has no physical body comes to have a “ILLNESS.” It is all just “grist for the mill” isn’t it? Quickly, more pictures came. I saw ocean, a rocky coast, a cow and her calf in a field, the small church on the edge of Kennebunkport. MAINE! Got it Mom, MAINE
ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD, GENETICS, MAINE?
When my eyes opened, Sulu was watching me from his cot. He reached out as if to shake my hand, we could just touch. His hand crushed mine at first, he backed off to a more appropriate grasp, then ratcheted up by small increments until the desired effect was achieved. Silently, he told me his wife wasn’t here anymore. I thought about my husband, wondering where he was in this story? Sulu’s eyes changed, with all the body tension and intensity of the Star Trek helmsman he whispered, out loud this time, “We need to go, now!” And just like that we were done with that place.
We were outside then, walking on a path through a temporary encampment of khaki tents and dusty vehicles. We were three: Sulu, myself and another man holding silence, and a tense reserve of quiet authority. We strode quickly through an environment that changed every few moments from dusty open desert, to thick Palm and bamboo forest. I walked just behind the tall thin man with a 2-week beard, whispering in his right ear when I could keep up with his long legs. Sulu, easily trotting on the left, corroborated my story, adding his own details.
This newcomer took in the story we told with worried thoughtful skepticism. The plot said he was my husband, but not in this life. I didn’t know this man, he was from a different place, and a different story. I understood he was a scientist. Our story made him uncomfortable, very, very uncomfortable for reasons that weren’t yet ready to bubble up into his neocortex.
I heard the morning sounds of my home. The beep of the coffee pot, the dove in the gutter over the open window of my bedroom, all familiar and comforting. Keeping my eyes shut I backed up, retracing my steps into recent memory. I tracked the path back to the place where the story had ended. Sulu smiled and waved, a swing of a cape, his image faded and he was gone. The tall thin man was standing in a group of white coated serious minds, unclear if he wanted to remember or forget. I got out of bed for a pen and paper, and reached for my laptop instead.
The picture on Google today is Maria Felix on her 104th birthday
ILLNESS, RENNET, BIRD, GENETICS, MAINE
The dream was done with me. It joined the world of collective thought quietly, drifting as dust on running rainwater going who knows where?
“The future Dream Society will be the fifth techno-economic system in which humans have lived. The first – the Hunter-Gatherer Society – gave way to Agricultural Society about 10,000 years ago. Agricultural Society began yielding to a third system – Industrial Society – about 1750, when steam engines began appearing in England. About 1950, a fourth system – the Information Society – began to take shape, but it now appears that the Information Society will not last more than a few decades longer before yielding to a society focused on dreams, adventure, spirituality, and feelings.” Rolf Jensen,
Article from The Futurist, Vol. 30, No. 3, May-June 1996