Dream School Continues with a Puzzling Visit from a Wooden Dragon and a Red Panda

 

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It was yet another fitful night in the realm of dreams. Back to school I went. This time to a peculiar college with a new roommate/dream guide. She sat before me, on the opposite bed, after I had tried to parcel out the pieces of her enormous puzzle into boxes on the floor below. Each one containing a jigsaw assortment that somehow went with the one beside it. Three, I believe in total, of interconnected scenes.

She seemed amused by my earnestness. Although she wore the face of teenager, large brown eyes framed by blond tresses, she was clearly wise beyond the years she showed me. Around her neck wrapped a red panda. Her pet? I wasn’t entirely sure how it had gotten into our room and why it was around my roommate’s shoulders like a living scarf, but I was fascinated. It was as though an old friend had come to visit me.

Let me return, for a moment, to the realm of daytime, and set the clock back about four decades. Imagine a little girl with blue eyes and dirty blond hair staring up at a caged enclosure where two red pandas are on display in their zoo-home. The little girl is about seven years old and she has declared those two curious looking pandas her absolute favorite animals in the entire zoo. This zoo that she visits often each summer because her father works there as a landscaper.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

The red panda on the upper branch stares back at her, its brown eyes soft with understanding. The little girl is sure the animal can read her mind. She is sure a connection has been formed. Her love for the creature is sealed inside her heart. They share something beyond words. This soft, gentle being who looks more like a tiny bear crossed with a fox has become the girl’s chosen totem, at least for awhile.

The little girl never forgets her love for the red panda, but she moves onto other loves, and other beings fill her heart as she grows. The more visits she makes to the zoo over the summers she flies west to see her father, the more secrets she traps inside of her throat, which becomes wrapped in her growing confusion of truth.

Let’s leap ahead to last night and the return of my quiet and almost forgotten friend who is  wrapped around my roommate’s neck. Before I can inquire why it is there, the red panda is suddenly around my own neck. I unwind it carefully, and hold it before me in my hands where I start to examine its soft body. Although the soft animal appeared well and healthy before, it now seems ill. In particular, it’s throat. As I hold it, the red panda coughs and I can see the damage incurred to its throat.

What have I done? Has my own, damaged throat, somehow damaged my beloved childhood totem? 

I am filled with despair and worry, but before I try to solve this puzzle, let’s explore the nature of the red panda:

Red pandas are native to Asian countries such as Nepal and China. They make their home in high altitude forests where they are endangered due to human encroachment from deforestation and poaching. Quiet creatures by nature, red pandas are “soft spoken” and introverted creatures. They are closer to the size of a large cat than they are to a panda bear. Like their namesake, though, they depend upon bamboo for their survival. Red pandas are solitary creatures who are most active in the between times of dawn and dusk. They are, I am realizing, an awful lot like me.

Which brings me to the curious puzzle that was now before me on the floor of my dream. Where’s my water dragon? I wonder as I gaze at the head of the wooden dragon held together like a puzzle with interlocking pieces.

I am a water child born under an Earth sign. These two elements drive my nature, but as in all forms, they seek to be balanced. Wood is one of my weaker elements, so perhaps my dream self should not have been baffled by the head of the wooden dragon that now lay at my feet.

Often when we wake from the realm of dreams we must knit together the pieces of our night travels as best we can to make sense of the strange landscape of night. Before I fell into slumber last night, I had been thinking about Elan (often knows as Elan of the Leys or  Keeper of the Dragon Lines as she seems to have appeared for my story) and how she made her appearance on the pages of my book, but had left me hanging for weeks as to where she was going to lead me and my characters. As I

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Photo Credit: Pexels

drifted into sleep she came to me, finally stepping out of the shadows of the trees to stretch her antlers to the stars. She was showing me the way, if I chose to follow the path beyond the foothold of Earth…

 

A Forest Walk and a Dream about Beauty

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

I have been thinking about ephemeral beauty and how we cling to form like raindrops to branches. Our lives, individual only for a millisecond in the great cosmos of time. One shimmering spark holding onto a momentary existence, and yet the soul sings an eternal symphony. We are born through the woven membrane of light. Released into density for a moment, we cling to existence to become defined by matter.

At night, my dreams show me the clutter of the brain and how it folds memories of lack and doubt until darkness lets them loose to run amok. Our minds form impossible fantasies and horrors we think could never be real until we open our eyes and see the world we have created.

As I released to slumber last night, Badger threw open the veil to stare me in the face. Fearless digger, unearthing what I may try to hide, Badger gave way to Owl before I was flung into the shadowland. It’s almost funny how we tumble restless to the surrender. Revisiting old haunts we thought we had exorcised in the landscape of dreams. Least we think we are watching reruns, familiar specters morph into new forms and find another curtain to tug open.

How exhausting it can be to tumble backwards when life holds you for a mere millisecond, urging you only to let go.

Yesterday, I walked into the woods nearby our home with my family and our two dogs. Zelda led the way, choosing a trail we had never taken together. Only Rosy, myself and Daisy, who passed more than five years ago, had ventured down it before.

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Rosy trailing the pack just ahead of me. Zelda, somewhere up ahead with Alex.

The day was over-cast and windy. The clouds, eager to rain, darkened the trail littered with last year’s leaves. While we walked, I took in what the forest reveals before growth unfurls. There were more fallen trees than I cared to count, their bare trunks leaning on their neighbors. Others were already splintering into decay in their final resting places on their forest bed. Beach leaves lightened the ground, bleached  by winter to the color of sand. They lent a light to the forest that was absent from above.

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You can just make out Zelda here, between Ava and Alex. 

As we walked, I found myself wondering about the hand that guides unseen. Perhaps Daisy had urged Zelda’s feet to take us off the beaten path we were used to traveling together. Perhaps not. It doesn’t really matter. What matters was that we were there now, individually and together. Each of us mindful of our own moments.

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Me and Daisy 12/25/14. Less than two months before she passed back into light.

“There goes the camera,” my daughter, ahead of me, caught the sign at the same moment I did. She knew I would linger to take a photo. While I did, I found myself wondering how long the sign had been there. If somehow I had missed it walking the path years ago with Daisy and Rosy.  Who had placed the sign, and when?

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The Namaste Tree that caught my eye.

I don’t remember too much from my jumbled dreams last night. Perhaps it’s because I choose not to. There were travels with familiar people, and those who were not so familiar. There was lots of clutter and the feeling of being pulled into too many directions, through no will but my own. There was the feeling of tending more for other’s wants and need, while neglecting the self. Perhaps it is not so surprising that there is one scene, in particular, that lingers with me.

I am sitting on a bus filled with people, traveling to some forgotten destination. A woman sits beside me. My guide for the night. She looks with intention into my face, then presses her hand to my heart. “I see the beauty of the light that is you,” she tells me. Even though her words are genuine and almost urgent, I’m not sure I believe them. Yet, it’s enough. Enough to weave the darkness back to dawn.

The word “Namaste,” is Sanskrit in origin. It is a greeting of one being to another. A bowing to honor, often with hands joined at the palms above the heart, of the light that resides in the other, that is also in the self.  It is a gesture of reverence and of unity, and through Namaste we are reminded of the tapestry of light that threads through all life.

I like to think we are being reminded of this thread right now as we reside individually, yet together, in our shared millisecond of life. Reminded that within each form resides the beauty of the light that finds a temporary home inside each heart. A beauty that perhaps radiates more readily in some than in others, but only because of the block of fear.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay