Sansaku: The Series
Each night we have a series of dreams, and if we could catch them all, we’d discover in the chaos of images, some common themes or motifs. Calvin Hall suggested we take a series of a hundred dreams, if we want to perceive the constants in the flow.
The same is true of outer life. I’ve got forty years of journals to testify that there are commonalities and constants in the way I’ve lived my life. It’s a “wherever you go, there you are,” kind of a world.
Dream weaving takes the details from our dreams and life, and begins to spin them into the stories we’re living. When I read back over my journals and dreams, over all the series of events and experiences, it’s quite clear I’m the same person.
But while the same things keep happening, something else is growing. I seem to be going somewhere and can feel where it’s headed. It’s a sense of becoming, and the series of stories and dreams point the way.
I was talking with Chyako this morning about my friend, Reece, who died five years ago. He had written a memoir he wanted to call, “I Look Back on My Life and Smile.” And while it was published as “Reece’s Pieces,” he was seeing his life whole and he liked what he saw.
When I asked him if he wanted things to be different, I recorded his thoughtful response and have often told the story. We were sitting under his beloved cherry tree, and he was looking back at the home and house he’d built. It looked like him.
He said he didn’t want to go anywhere, not to Africa or Europe. He wanted to grow tomatoes and share them with his neighbors and friends. “I want my life just as it is.”
Reece was a grateful man for all that he’d been given and for all that he’d worked so hard to earn. He lived his life according to principles, and these were the constants by which he navigated life. He sometimes had a hard time acknowledging there could be any other.
When I look back at his life, and I have enough pieces to see the pattern, I also smile. I’m thankful I could tell him. I did this formally, twice, once at his retirement and again at his memorial.
Both times I ended with the same words, “Well done, my friend.”
David Copperfield begins his life story with the existential question: Will I be the hero of my own life’s story? It’s all about adversity and opportunity, and the conflict that comes with choice. Because he’s a Dicken’s character, you know he’ll come through in the end.
I was taught to study my dreams as a series. When we look at them one at a time, isolated from all the rest, it’s like looking in only one direction. Not only do we need to turn around, but we also need to move.
And there’s a paradox to consider: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
If our conscious life and dreams provide the thread, we must do the weaving. Each night, each day, a pattern is slowly being woven. First it looks one way, and then it looks another. And it reads like a story being written, word by word, one page to the next.