Over the past few weeks the course of my life - in which Freud and his disciples have become welcome guests - has led to an explosion of dreams. This, I am told, is quite normal. Hence stories flow out too: cathartic, exploratory, the quenching of a thirst to talk and share. It's true too that I feel a conflict between the rigours of work and what a colleague calls 'me-time'. There simply do not seem to be sufficient hours in the day. I miss having enough time to write. I long too for more awakening time when I may luxuriate in the subconscious, the waking dream state inhabiting the veil between conscious and unconscious.
Anyway, back to the world of stories. This one fits in chronologically after the previous two. I suppose that it might sit a decade after Jana's story, a tale that both disturbs and enlightens me. But the protagonists are growing and so am I. So let's start...
Dreaming with Jana
But lately had I returned from a long sweeping journey through the mountains. Faithfully had my horse carried me from one remote village to another visiting accustomed patients and being introduced to a few newly in need of my skills. Now I was tired to my core, worn out by leagues and climbs and storms. No longer was I in the prime of youth. I felt nearly beyond age as people commonly describe the perception of passage through life, surely symptomatic of emotional maturity yet also a sign that the years had slunk nevertheless upon my frame. However I had promised to take the ever eager Willow on a trip, a journey of learning through which we might meet a few unusually interesting and intuitive patients. The youngster had begun to show skill as my pupil and her impatience to learn was matched by mine to teach. Besides until her blossoming my concern had been growing that none might step forward to embrace the learning that I had amassed, and perhaps that too was a sign that many summers had lit my life.
I had slept long and deeply, a slumber awash with dreaming. Then half-awake my subconscious luxuriated, savouring the fringe of that dream world, endeavouring to carry memories beyond the veil and into the waking land. I recalled walking barefoot across the field accompanied by my horse, reaching the lake below the pasture, stepping ankle deep into water that was pleasantly warm. The lake seemed ever so clear and blue and wide, indeed the distant mountains seemed very far away, further than reality, almost beyond reach. The big roan horse walked past me and stood knee-deep drinking. Ripples lapped back from his four stout legs and my eyes followed their expansion back to me. The hem of my dress touched the water and the ripples wet the autumn-red fabric turning the bottom fringe of the garment into a dark ring mirroring the ripples. But I laughed: it would dry in the sun. A voice called me: ‘Hawk, turn around’. I obeyed and took a few steps to reach the grassy shore. Tall and thin, greying hair blowing a little in the breeze stood my mother Jana. Suddenly I felt sleepy. Walking over to the older woman I flopped down in the grass and curled up, closing my eyes. Jana must have knelt down for I felt her strong arms around me, her cheek against mine. ‘Sleep’, she whispered, ‘rest as much as you need.’ I relaxed upon the soft sward, warm in the sun, warmer in her embrace, feeling safe and secure. She continued to speak: ‘Hawk, you have travelled enough, circled enough mountains, swept into sufficient valleys. Now look after yourself. Rest sufficiently for you have poured yourself out and now you must give time to your own needs.’ Those were the words that I held in my mind as I trod the misty path towards wakefulness, the words that I clutched to my breast as wakefulness claimed me that they might not slip from me as water through fumbling fingers.
It was warm on the balcony as the sun neared her zenith. I had awoken disgracefully late according to a self-imposed ethic then crept out guiltily to embrace the remains of the morning. Jana met me there radiant with tranquillity. Leading her here was the best thing that ever I had done. She had been swept from the Outland practically at the last possible moment before that border closed then placed in a safe quiet place where she might heal and then thrive. How I loved her tanned face and arms, her piercing eyes, that greying hair that lapped her shoulders. Best of all we were friends deeply bonded. A mug of warm milk Jana gave me with a smile, then sat down beside me. In lieu of conversation I let my fingers absorb the gentle heat of the earthenware mug knowing that Jana understood my morning silence. Words might emerge when the soul was ready to verbalise. Meanwhile we sat on the long bench, sun on our faces, our green and brown dresses yielding us elegance not quite in keeping with our professions: travelling healer and retired outlaw. Indeed we must have looked quite normal.
At length and gently my mother broke the silence. ‘You’re tired, Hawk, your face is lined.’ We were such good friends that banal pleasantries had become redundant. When we talked, Jana and me, our words exuded meaning. With that Jana reached out with tender hands and encompassed my face, fingertips gently resting between eyes and easy, soft palms against my cheeks. She didn’t tire of touching me and nor did I object, the legacy of our separation for the first decade of my life.
‘I’ll take Willow on the next trip and then rest’, I replied. I did have my word to keep. Besides the youngster’s training meant much to me: pride perhaps slyly crept in but altruism played a part too. My mind wandered and I reflected on how much had happened since a youthful stubborn Willow encountered me in a far valley as I dozed. Ever, I thought, is that woman destined to drag me away from rest.
Jana looked thoughtful and spoke softly. ‘Willow can learn much here. Ever do you travel and often that is good yet also stillness is beneficial. Let me show Willow to meditate.’
I wondered how my mother had developed such an esoteric disposition of late. Perhaps it was so quiet gathering mushrooms and firewood that her mind had expanded laterally. But she seemed, to be frank, quite enlightened when it came to meditation. Then there was the booth that she warmed like an oven with hot stones, throwing water on them and sitting semi-naked in the steamy heat whilst her mind wandered far slopes and shores. I put down my empty cooling mug and wondered what to say. Jana’s soft fingertips cradled my temples as if her tranquillity probed my mind washing away fears and worries. So I did not speak. Instead I burst into tears.
How long we hugged, my tears rolling down our close pressed cheeks, I do not know. However I shall not forget quickly the sense of refreshment that I felt. At last I choked out a few words. ‘I’m so tired. I do want to stay here and rest. Can you teach Willow? Do you think that she will be disappointed that I’m not taking her?’
Jana hugged me tightly and laughed. ‘Look’, she whispered.
Rubbing my red eyes with the sleeves of my dress I looked about me. There was Willow approaching with a good armful of twigs. ‘Hawk’, she cried with accustomed enthusiasm, ‘Jana will teach me to meditate. You should come too. You’ll be able to relax and unwind.’
I grinned and turned to Jana. ‘How did you persuade Willow?’ I asked.
My mother smiled. ‘Willow asked me’, she replied simply.
The youngster replied, ‘I saw how tired you are and decided to ask Jana to help so that you could rest. This kindling will light the fire in the meditation chamber. Are you disappointed that I went behind your back?’
‘No, Willow’, I cried, ‘not at all.’ With that I stood and sprang down the stairs, running over to Willow where I hugged the surprised young woman. She dropped her load of twigs and I hugged her more tightly. ‘In fact’, I continued, ‘these past days you’ve become clearer sighted than me.’