Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the dream of whales

I dreamt I was walking through an older section of a city built snugly at the base of a gigantic, treeless hill. The neighborhood in which I found myself walking was strangely named "Over the Rhine" and reminded me of Oxford or a small European village. Running just above this old neighborhood, cut into the slope, an old stone road served as the boundary between the grassy hill and the urban streets below.

In my dream I headed toward this road. I had the distinct feeling that the ocean was on the other side of the hill, and I wanted to reach it. Curiously, I was unable to get a clear view of the hill itself because when I looked in its direction my sight was blurred. I walked along heading south, so that the hill was on my right and roofs and steeples of the city on my left. Near to the southern slope of the hill a dirt path wound off to my right away from the city. I took the path, feeling it would certainly lead to the ocean.

Once on the path my eyesight grew particularly poor. I couldn't see ahead, the path and hill were indistinct. I sensed that there were people further on down the path, but I could only see vague shapes. I kept walking—feeling my way along—and sure enough around a bend the ocean spread beneath me, expansive and open. The hill below the path dropped off sharply and I stood perhaps a hundred or more feet above the sea. Oddly, the ocean was in perfect focus—blue and white jagged lines of foamy waves formed as the water moved inland. It looked much like the Pacific off the Oregon coast. I watched the waves come in, rocks breaking their formation. If I turned my eyes back to the path everything once more became blurry, so I kept walking and looked at the ocean.

Then noticed something in the ocean. I thought at first it was a person swimming, but I realized the figure was too far offshore for a regular swimmer. I looked closer and saw that it was a seal—my eyesight suddenly magnificent. I watched the seal, and then, to my amazement, I saw a larger shape moving under it. A whale slowly surfaced—its shape something like an orca. Then suddenly there was another orca, and another. I was captivated and stopped walking. I felt fortunate to see the whales, and I forgot about all but the waves and the whales. Then I noticed another whale under the orcas, slowing moving toward the surface. It was much larger—in shape and size like a humpback. It came up and started blowing water. I really couldn’t believe my luck. After awhile I started slowly inching along the path again, looking at the ocean. I had the sense that I should be heading back soon. It became a nagging feeling: I need to go back. But I resisted.

As I stood there, trying to decide what to do and absently looking at the ocean and the whales, I noticed something that made my heart stop. Deep under the whales there was a massive black shape, much larger than any of the other whales, so huge that it stretched beyond my sight. It was clearly a whale, maybe a great blue whale, but it was mammoth—maybe twenty or thirty times the size of the humpback. I was frightened and awestruck. I sensed in my dream that I was seeing something important. I was also joyful—the way I used to feel when I saw a rare bird. I felt I ought to do something, but there was rightly nothing to do but stand and watch. At the same time I was afraid; the colossal dark shape down in the water was not menacing, yet so huge and powerful and beyond comprehension that it made me feel small and insignificant.

Then again I felt an inner tug, I need to go back... and I woke up.

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