But last night, I was in the kitchen, having some nice banter with my son while we cooked something. The phone rang in the other room, and I answered it. â€œHeather Ma-KEY?â€ said a manâ€™s voice (older, governmental), mispronouncing it. â€œYes,â€ I said. At that moment, someone came up behind me with a black fabric hood that I could just see through. As it went over my head and I felt it tighten around my neck, all strength left me. I understood â€œtheyâ€ were using something against meâ€”poison or a gas or magic. I tried to throw the phone down to make a noise to warn my son. But I was too weak. After initial panic and surprise my thought was â€œOh no you donâ€™t, you bastards.â€ Fade to black.
Of course I woke up frightened. Iâ€™ve been very stressed out latelyâ€”with work exhausting and overwhelming me, plus my book coming out in a week (haha, just a few things to do for THAT), plus the million soccer games and end-of-school stuff. Plus the fact that for years I havenâ€™t really rested or taken time off (whenever I take time off, itâ€™s been to work on my book!).
So in some ways I do feel physically vulnerable. The â€œsudden phone callâ€ IS what Iâ€™m afraid of right now.
But by other measures this was a good dream for me to have at this moment. Iâ€™m doing somethingâ€”publishing a bookâ€”that has taken years of effort, that at many times didnâ€™t seem doable. Possibly Iâ€™m afraid that it wonâ€™t happen, that at the last second some disaster will strike that could put it still out of reach. That fear is made of psychic crud thatâ€™s built up over years of working silently. Wouldnâ€™t facing itâ€”and clearing it outâ€”be a good thing?
Iâ€™m also afraid of what happens AFTER the book comes out. Change, no matter how badly you want it, can be scary, and not to oversimplify, is death of a kind. What changes would I like to make but am afraid to make right now? (A lot.) And to be honest, I guess I am afraid that this will be my one book and thatâ€™s it. But â€¦ so what? Iâ€™m pretty sure that if Dreamwood tanks or I never write again, Iâ€™ll deal. There are a lot worse fates, after all.
My death dream reminds me of these roadblocks and anxieties, how theyâ€™ve been building up in the wings of my subconscious. And yet itâ€™s also a great thing to go through. I died in the dream, which means the worst happened. But, according to the Buddhists, you should live as if youâ€™re already dead, because that means youâ€™re free.
And I am kind of proud that my â€œdyingâ€ thoughts were defiant and focused on protecting my son. Because I have worried that in doing what itâ€™s taken to get this book published, Iâ€™ve neglected my family. The dream reminds me to be their champion no matter what Iâ€™m going through.
Still, there is one last thing Iâ€™m afraid ofâ€”and this is probably the real danger in all thatâ€™s going on. Iâ€™ve felt so under the gun, and had to go so inward to deal, Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™m taking myself far too seriously. Thank you, death dream, for all your lessons. But now itâ€™s time to stop, lighten up and laugh.