80: Dream Traveller

80: Dream Traveller

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Dream Traveller

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.

~Roald Dahl

All the kids saw when they looked at the little block I’d received as a Christmas present from my sisters-in-law in Canada was a delightful painting of a girl flying through the sky over a rather surreal landscape. What I saw, however, were the major plot points of four vivid, life-affirming dreams that I had two nights earlier. And yet this block of wood had been wrapped and sitting under the tree for the past week.

We were living in Egypt at the time, having moved there from Toronto a couple of years before. Our marriage was on the rocks, but at that point we were still together, heading into our second Christmas in our new home. We hadn’t yet made any plans for returning to Canada, but it was clear that when we got back we’d be going our separate ways.

A couple of days before I opened that Christmas gift, I dreamt I was being nudged from behind while underwater in the ocean. I spun around to find a killer whale who obviously wanted to be stroked.

I’ve loved whales from the time I was a child. Topping my personal list of good-luck symbols, in times of stress, I’ll sometimes see the vanishing tail of a diving whale when I close my eyes, and know everything’s going to be okay.

With the whale’s smooth, pliant skin gliding by under my palms, I couldn’t have felt luckier if I’d won the lottery. She switched from a horizontal position to a vertical one so I could stroke the full length of her belly. A vicious-looking shark came into our vicinity and swam in circles around us, but I understood, as scary as the shark looked, he posed no threat. The shark left, and eventually so did my whale. After a few seconds, the whale came back.

Opening my eyes, I lay there trying to recapture the joy and relief of that dream. More tangible and visceral than any dream I’d ever had, I knew this was a message of some kind. It meant that everything was going to be fine. My worries (the shark) looked scary, but wouldn’t actually pose any threat. Making a pact with myself to remember this dream, I fell back asleep, never suspecting I would wake four more times with the same imperative to remember before the night was through.

The next thing I knew, I was with Meiko, my childhood best friend. It had been a long time since I’d seen Meiko, awake or asleep, but she always appeared in my dreams when I needed help, advice, or love. In this dream, I told her about my previous dream. She asked if I was scared. When I said I wasn’t, we dove into what I perceived to be a giant coffee cup. We were shooting down, headfirst, for so long that it was as if we would never reach the bottom. Then suddenly we were hanging onto the round ball of the earth. I slid off and shot out into the stars on my own.

I will never forget the sensation of speeding through the universe like a shooting star. My heart still racing when I woke up, I knew this was a repeat of the same message. Everything was going to be fine, better than fine. My spirit was going to soar with the stars even when I let go of the familiar — earth.

Next, I was on a train with my friend, Tamer. Still sleeping, I realized this dream was picking up where the other two had left off, adding travel and change to the message. With the world passing by out the window, I repeated the details of the previous dreams to Tamer to firm them up in my memory.

Finding myself in the driver’s seat of a car, I understood this was a repetition of the travel message. I reminded myself again how important it was to remember these dreams and repeated the details of the previous three to my grandmother in the seat beside me. In the waking world, my grandmother had recently had a stroke, but sitting there, she was healthy and happy. And I was in the driver’s seat, not exactly a hard fact to analyze.

In the final dream of the night, my mother and mother-in-law came to our apartment in Egypt to tell me it was time to leave. Walking from room to room, deciding what to pack, we came to several beautiful vases we all recognized as precious. They advised me to send those home early because they were breakable.

When morning finally came, I felt deeply loved and cared for. Rather than being alone in a foreign country in the middle of a deteriorating marriage, I felt like a cherished, cared-for thread, carefully woven in the immense web of life. I wrote out the details of the dreams so I would never forget.

Two days later, those messages were repeated and underlined in a dramatic, impossibly concrete way when I unwrapped that block of wood on Christmas morning. The block featured a girl soaring high above the town below. In the pattern of blue in the sky was what looked like a whale flying alongside her. There was a train track in the forefront and a lone car on the road. The caption at the bottom said “Dream Traveller.” It was as if I’d dreamed that block into existence.

I once had a conversation with a friend about the nature of time. He thought time was like a horizontal line with each moment following the other in succession. I imagined it more like an undulating brick wall, with all moments happening at once, each one distinct yet part of an already complete whole. So many disparate moments went into my experience. When my sisters-in-law bought the picture. When the artist made it. When it was already sitting under the tree, and I was having the dreams. When I opened the gift that depicted my dreams. Each moment, perpetually transpiring in its place, until a time when the swimming whale, the shooting star, the traveling train and the car would all converge at a single point. It was as if a conductor was pointing her baton at each section of the orchestra to set the music playing, until with a final sweep of her hand, they all came together in a resounding crescendo.

The one thing I never fully understood from my dream-night was the vases. Sixteen years later, reliving the experience as I wrote this, I had a revelation. The kids were the precious vases who I needed to take back to Canada, making sure they were okay before their father and I split up.

The painted dream sits on my desk, as it has since the day I unwrapped it, for inspiration and comfort, and as a reminder of the magic of life.

~Maissa Bessada

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