FINDING BALLAST, DELECTABLE AND PROFOUND
ballast: (3) something that gives stability, esp. in character. American Heritage Dictionary
These days I feel like a whirligig, the child’s toy that is continuously spinning. The Pandemic affects everything. I wake in the morning, and for an instant, all is enchantingly predictable. Then I remember. A heavy feeling comes over me, often expressed in the most trivial thoughts. I can’t drop into Office Max and buy Post It notes willy-nilly. My children and granddaughter have made it abundantly clear we are not to sally forth, under any circumstances. One daughter ordered grocery delivery for us, and we stared at the packaging: do we dare touch it? Whose hands carried those bags, what unwitting carrier selected the avocados?
I glance at the stack of New Yorkers on the back of the commode, “Well, if we run out of toilet paper…” We aren’t hording toilet paper, but do panic at the thought of running out of coffee. Then we turn local news, or Rachel Maddow, with her passionate outrage and footage from Italy, and we feel the pain of our global suffering.
This teeter-totter instability reverberates not only in our material lives, but deep within the part of us just beyond our conscious awareness. This is the twin of our sensory experience, the country of the soul often called the Unconscious, producing its own images, wisdom, and sense of humor!
If ever there was a time to listen to your intuition and your dreams, it is now.
To illustrate: a few nights ago. I had a dream that I was back in my childhood home, and it was being remodeled. All the walls were bare, and newly-painted white; sweeping glass windows, tall French doors. A much larger and more elegant home that the one I grew up in. I walked into an alcove and touched the white wall, ”This used to be the pantry,” I say, somewhat wistfully, “There were rows of spices on small wooden shelves…”
Then, I gaze out the picture window at the sumptuous back yard. A magnificent chartreuse-green weeping willow sways in the breeze. Next to it is a monumental tree, its leaves darker its trunk broad and deep and ancient. It could be an oak, or a maple, or a tree not specific to this earth. “It is Mother,” I whisper.
I woke from this dream with a sense of peace, and profound gratitude, to my dreaming Unconscious, a force of nature embedded in the Collective Unconscious that lives in us all.
I later told this dream to someone who said that the willow is a fragile tree, often losing all its limbs in a wind storm. From this I gather that the willow symbolizes our temporal bodies: destructible. The Mother Tree is the eternal grounding of life Herself. Indestructible. Our temporal bodies are vulnerable at this time and we are living in a “remodeled” house of self. a house where the ordinary spice of life has been replaced by the blank white wall of the unknown.
Oh, and did I mention the Unconscious has a sense of humor? The night after the beautific dream of the Mother Tree, I dreamed I am sitting in a small office, working on a manuscript. Barack Obama comes through the door, fresh out of the shower, a white bath towel wrapped around his waist. He has a mischievous grin on his face. “I have cracks, “he says, pointing to the crow’s feet around his eyes. “And here,” he says, pointing to the creases around his mouth—“And you want to see the biggest crack of all?—” “Seriously??!” I gasp. “Why not?” he says, whirling around and whipping off the towel as he shows me his back side. We laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
I will leave you with this. I’m howling as I write it. May you find ballasts in your loved ones, your community, your own dear self, and in soul images like the Mother Tree, and in the joy and humor from the likes of my mooning Barack.