Monday, May 05, 2008

Death, Flight and Spalding Gray

I hear a voice, a strange, disembodied voice that says to me:

“I need to be alone with you now.”

This is a dream I had last week. Everything was fine up until I heard that voice. My friend Ruby was dream visiting and we were hanging out in my backyard, talking about any old thing.

Then I heard the voice and I had to move toward it. I told Ruby that I had to go now, that I had no choice. The voice sounded to me like Satan at first - very powerful, very dark, almost enchanting.

Strangely, it didn’t matter what entity spoke these words; I knew that I had absolutely no choice but to go. He was simply too powerful. I wasn’t scared per se. Everything felt very matter of fact about it. It was that “Oh, it’s Thursday. I have to take out the trash” feeling.

As I walked to the front of my house to be with him, I started to dematerialize. I knew that at that moment, I no longer…was. My first thought was not “Farewell, dear life.” My first thought was - flying. I bet I can fly now. Fun with death! So I simply focused my mind and instructed myself to rise.

And I did. I begin to rise, to fly. I’ve done this several times in my dreams and of course, it’s the most thrilling thing ever. Mainly because it feels so disturbingly real. In my waking life, for years, I’ve tried to take flight or move objects with my mind. I figure if I can do either, I will believe fully in magic, in an afterlife, in a god.

Last week, heart doctor said my arrhythmia has changed considerably, that’s he’s a bit concerned. My heart never did the whole “bump, bump” thing. It does it’s own thing. But lately, it makes me cough sometimes and worse; it causes some pain in my chest. Heart doctor asks me if I’ve ever passed out and woke up and didn’t know where I was or how I got there. Desperately wanting to answer him with several pithy responses (“Bitch, please.” “Well, no…not this week.” “Oh, what…you haven’t?” etc.), I opted for a simple “no” because heart doctors aren’t the funniest lot.

I am flying. But you have to maintain it. You have to keep your focus. I keep rising, rising – hundreds of feet, maybe thousands, over my backyard. I look down and see the garden, the swinging chair, the clothesline...

“I need to be alone with you now.”

I begin falling. Quickly. It doesn’t matter, I tell myself. You can’t hit the ground. You don’t exist anymore.

I wake up startled. My heart is racing in its own weird way. I can’t escape the implications of the dream. I try to think of other things it could mean but it’s tough. This dream seems like your average, garden-variety death portendy dream.

I pick up the book next to my bed to ground myself. Spalding Grey. Dead man. Whatever. His book mostly contains little suburban rich white people anecdotes. It’ll be fine.

This is what I turn to:

Then just the other day I had a hopeful fantasy. What if, when we are dying, instead of our breath stopping, it instead shifts from us into the breath of the universe. Yes, I suddenly had a peaceful sense that the whole universe was actually breathing and that at our last breath we can, if we choose, breathe into it and become one with the great swelling and retracting breath of the universe. I felt almost hopeful. I thought that maybe that’s a positive image I can give Forrest [his son] to work with, my fantasy of what is beyond the apparent death of breath.

Then in no time I thought, who really wants to become a part of an eternal egoless universal energy field? It feels too much like spiritual communism. I couldn’t lay that on my son. No, I think, now tired of thinking about it all, all I can do is hold him and say, “We don’t know. It’s a mystery. I love you and everything is going to be alright.”

It’s odd but that voice that says, “Everything is going to be all right,” that’s the one I choke on. I have no problem telling Forrest that I love him, and then when I try to say, “Everything is going to be all right,” I feel so distant from myself, so faraway and down the hall.

Now the late-afternoon stupor is taking me over and I begin to fall into my nodding nap. In my nodding nap the disembodied voice of death enters. This voice is as fearful to me as Chucky the doll is to Forrest, only I can save Forrest from the fear of Chucky, and no one can save me from the fear that this disembodied voice of death engenders in me.

The disembodied voice whispers, “Hello, Spalding, here I am again, just as you are relaxing, to remind you that all that you know and feel and remember will one day disappear forever. Gone, gone forever gone. And all the substance that surrounds you now will cave in like so much sand and sea to fill the place where once were. It will all be as though you never existed."

I toss the book across the room.

“Go to sleep, Beth.”

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