Monday, September 1, 2008

Coming home

“All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Yesterday I had a nostalgic dream while sleeping off jet lag. I dreamt that my brother, who in his later years was estranged from the family in our own unhappy way, was alive and well. He was also his good self, the part I no longer saw for the last decade of his life.

He had come to pick me up from an apartment where I was staying. Why I was staying apart, is not in the dream. And where I was staying was unclear. But we walked through the neighborhood as we had done so many times during my childhood---me following him so we could get home. He showed me a new shortcut too.

The house was empty when we got there but I had the sense that soon, my mother and father and my sister would be in. An ordinary day in the life of one of those usually happy families which are the same world over.

And that was the end if the dream. But the waking up was difficult. My brother, father and mother are no longer alive, and waking up made me realize how much I have lost just because life has taken its course.

We have been plodding on, my sister and I, the last two standing. The way we see it, we have a bit more to go. Ordinarily we are brave girls. Ordinarily there can be no bellyaching between us because life remains worth living and joyful. We are also under very strict instructions from my mother (the kind of instructions drilled into you from your first breastfeeding) that sentimentality about one's particular life situation is nothing more than self-conceit. Being human and alive is wonderful, joyous and marvelous. However there are, as Omar Khayam has said, "millions of bubbles like us". Nothing is very interesting or uplifting about anyone's particular bubble.

The dream reminds me of yet another of mother's admirable traits: she was an agnostic who was not afraid to die. She joked about it on the day of her death to her cardiologist, "this is a serious condition I have, right? It could kill me?" And it did.

She would look at the fear of death in our Catholic dominated society and say, "if I knew there was an afterlife why would I be afraid to die? I don't know for sure, and yet I am ready."

When asked about dying, my father took a different tack. He told me that all life comes from a limited set of carbon atoms. He says it would be selfish to keep our carbon atoms to ourselves forever and not give other life forms a chance.

So why do I break my mother's rules and write about this dream, so peculiar to me and therefore so uninteresting to others? Because it reminded about a principle of living well: do not be afraid to die.

This is not an appeal for dangerous behavior. It is an appeal for liberating the self from conceit and supersition. Many religious traditions and my non-religious agnostic one, remind us that many fears (and a whole lot of irritating behavior and bad manners) are born out of thinking that you are more important than the minor blip that you really are in the cosmic story.

My dream reminds me that immortality would become unbearable because life, for all it's joys, is also wearying.

So I will, as a poet once said, warm my hands before the fire of life, but depart without fuss when the fire wanes.

Tonight though, I hope I will have that dream I have about flying. I fly, really fly.

What would we do without our dreams?


Nathalie said...

While I've come to terms with the inevitability of death, for myself and my loved ones (family and friends), I just wish there was more predictability in this, in terms of the when and the how. The "when" being something like upon reaching 100 years old (with both physical and mental faculties still in optimal working condition), and the "how" happening painlessly in one's sleep. It would make planning one's life so much simpler.

It's me being OC again, Guy.

I loved this blog, naiyak ako.

Sylvia Estrada Claudio said...

In the Lord of the Rings, death and the uncertainty of fate, was given as a gift to men. Something the elves, who are immortal, envied. But it was given to the Numenorians, the men of West (sexist? racist of Tolkien? NEVAH!! keep the PC out of this)as an additional gift that they could determine the timing and therefore, the manner of their death.

I love blogging because I can also write little personal things about my day.

May I guess why you love the blog? Because some of your family joys and sadness are similar?

Nathalie said...

I love blogging for the same reasons you do. And I love this blog because it is so personal.

Yes, we have similar family joys and sadness, and yes, I've had dreams of flight too (in a Superman way, really, except of a lower altitude and without the blue and red costume), and as a final yes, I cite JK Rowling quoting Seneca: "As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters."

But I pray to all the goddesses (PC yan, for us ;->), dearies, give me a looooong AND good life!!!

El-Shaddai-dad said...

Blessings of the Ages: The "Dream" is to let you know who is here.

In revelations, elations, excitations, and edification to One and ALL “Alpha/Omega Lord of Lords, King of Kings and God of Gods” with reproof that he has arisen in the Bread of Life and that none have listened to his words, neither sought his counsel nor have followed his ways. Ezekiel 33-37, Rev. 10 “Thou Art Being Weighted In Thy Balance” ©: Seven words of thunder.

The Heir: Geir-USA-Lem™ HeirUSAlem™©, Rev. 16.19 ∑Θ∑: Everlasting O’EVErlasting™, New Jerusalem. Psalms 29© and where is thy tithing to bee and what is thy tribute or tribulation??

Lift-up Thy CUP thy VOice and dew visit read and teach all ye nations: Bowl ye heavens and rain down righteousness, I-say-ah 40. If the foot (She-ol) is sick does not the Hand know (noe, no) IT? The Right Hand Michi-gan (right cloven-foot on the sea), with the Sceptre are below four wings of an Eagle (one wing is the Bear turned-UP on one side: The Great Lakes). The Left Hand (left-foot on the earth – with six toes, six fingers is INdian-a) and the Censer under the Stone Throne are all revealed: Between the Ohio and Mississippi (Omega HI Omega - Miss-is-sip-pi) Rivers is the Center Court, Geir-USA-Lem, Rev. 16.19.

The Earth and its fullest is the Lord’s Table: Pull off thy Sandals for this is Holly Ground.

The Marriage is complete, Joseph is in the Well of Creation – “The Dream Weaver – The Shuttle”: The EARth is the Holly Tomb (Womb) and Dad is back in the Garden calling out to his children. If I tell you of earthly things and you do not believe me then how can I tail you of heavenly things?

Blessings of the Ages, all is well in Love and Peace: Noe the hour and day. Eel: ∑Θ∑: Everlasting O’EVErlasting™, Psalms 29©

I AM that I AM, El-Shaddai-dad, The Ancient of Days many names without number, The AMEN.

Carolina S. Ruiz Austria said...

to dream about flying --- you need good old reliable juts (i'm sure YOU would agree) - the one who posted a comment below can also use one (or maybe already had something stronger) ehem

Kay said...

I love this entry too! It's like an Anne Lamott creation---a gentle and soothing reminder of one's own 'wiggly underground wisdom' :). Thank you.
Btw, last Christmas, I gave Mama Didion's 'The Year of Magical Thinking';have you read it? Despite the 'heaviness' of the theme and its tear-jerking quality, it has a wonderful lightness.