Couple of weeks ago, my father-in-law’s cabin and surrounding twenty acres burned in the wildfires here in Northern California.
Last night I dreamt that I was in that cabin. It was whole and pristine. Clean white walls. Clear of all furniture. A big open bright room. I was sweeping up a few oak leaves that had fallen through the space where there wasn’t a roof and onto the intricately-patterned brick floor. Every so often, I would think to myself that really it was a lovely space; that it wouldn’t be a terrible place to live. And then looking up through the open roof, I would remember that the cabin doesn’t exist anymore and is, says my father-in-law, “in ashes.” This cycle of enjoying the beauty of the space and then suddenly remembering that the cabin had burned down repeated itself perhaps three times. At a certain point, my sweeping done, I left that place and met up with my family in town.
I’m truly sorry to hear about your father-in-law’s cabin. A place to retreat to, far from other’s energy fields, can be a wonderful thing. I hope he is able to rebuild eventually.
I’ve often thought that had I not started a family I would have wound up living in solitude, be it in a cabin, yurt, shack, or cave. Solitude’s a strange thing. We want it until we feel it’s killing us inside. What is it about solitude that allures us, yet cause pain to an untempered mind?
For the majority of my life I’ve been in the process of secluding myself. At first this wasn’t intentional. I was strange as a kid. Most people that I know felt this way. Maybe I took this to an extreme though. My closest friends and loved ones have always said I’m too extreme about everything. I guess I was just a punk. I would do things like show up for the first day of high school with a Hari Krishna haircut. I’d point out things I saw my friends doing that I thought were stupid, or trendy. I made myself really hard to befriend. I ate lunch alone every day. I played in bands with older punks that didn’t go to my school. I never dated a girl I went to school with. I always dated older women. I never went to a prom or formal, or whatever those school dances are called.
Eventually I built a whole world inside myself, using drugs mainly, but also with meditation and lucid dreaming. The more I went in, the less I wanted to look out. The harder the drugs got, my cave thickened.
It’s easy to look back on all this and feel sorry for myself, a sad boy with little self-worth. It’s more useful, however, to understand that I was just being an asshole. For decades I refused to share my world with others. I refused to share who I was with others, even those I genuinely loved. It breaks my heart to think my daughter or son may eventually choose not to engage with me, to share in this world with me. Now I think about all the time and love I robbed people of, just floating through their lives in a vessel of self-involvement. I’m thinking about all the people I know who’ve died of loneliness.
I’ve studied Karma a lot, and I still don’t fully understand it. What I do grasp of it informs my belief that it’s not simply a debts and credits balance. Even so, I feel I’m atoning for my earlier life now. That I have boundless love to give, that I want to blanket every person who seeks it with. Also, there’s this. I will be absolutely honest about what your dream means to me. How it connects to my life. Even it means admitting that I’ve made some horrible mistakes.
I’ve let some people die on my watch. I never killed anyone, but I wasn’t there for people when I should’ve been, when any good, loving person would’ve been. So my atonement is to live a life of truth, of love, of support and aid, all the things I should’ve been doing all along.
In forestry it’s said that fire is necessary. It’s earth’s way of promoting new growth and replenishing itself. A controlled burn should be used to contain the possibility of wildfire. I don’t know if it’s possible to do this to yourself or not.
I definitely burned. I’ve tried to destroy my body in every way possible. Maybe love’s a fire we can’t contain. But that’s not what burned down your father-in-law’s cabin. And you can’t go back to it, not to what it was.
Romanticism is a nostalgia for something that’s never existed. That’s not what the circles of experience in your dream are. They are the process of rationalizing the irrational. This is what time is also. We enjoy ourselves. We enjoy each other. Then we realize this moment of enjoyment is gone and it’s never coming back. We may feel something similar, but never exactly the same, like snowflakes of experience.
When we think about letting go, we often think about negativity, letting bad thoughts fall away. Maybe we need to let go of the good things too, before they burn us down.