My Last Priorities


In the last month since my visit with Alexandra, we’ve been swapping dreams (the days that we remember them, anyway), helping each other interpret and analyze them. Alexandria is a close friend to whom I feel like I can tell pretty much anything. I almost didn’t tell her about last night’s dream, though, because of how unsettling it was – but I also had to tell her about it, because it was (understatement alert) thought-provoking. In fact I’ve had little else on my mind since dreaming it. I nearly didn’t write about it here too, but finally decided to because this blog has been extraordinarily helpful when it comes to gathering my thoughts and coming up with new ideas.

Last night I dreamed that I died in my sleep.

The dreams I remember tend to be vivid and full of detail – this one was vivid, but lacking in detail except a microscopic focus on the moment. There’s a problem that many authors (including me) have when they first write a scene called the “White Room”. Characters are talking and interacting, but there’s no clue in the text about where they are, or what’s around them – no other sensory information at all. The characters might just be in a white room for all the reader knows.

The dream was like that, only it was just me, and instead of a white room I was surrounded by a gray mist that was featureless except for being slightly illuminated, albeit dimly, the way you might see the sun as a white disk above a fog bank. (Except I didn’t even see a light – just the slight all-around glow.)

I knew that I had died in my sleep. I could feel the presence of the physical world, including my body, close by – that I wasn’t more than hovering near my body.

I wish that I could say that there was a feeling of peace. There wasn’t. But there wasn’t any sense of judgment either. It felt like a completely neutral area – maybe that’s why the mist was gray – as if I were just in a way station. The only awareness I had of what awaited for me beyond my physical life was the knowing that I would other work to do once I crossed over.

My own feelings were muted, but they were still present. And those feelings were regret and frustration. Regret and frustration over leaving people and animals behind, over things I wouldn’t get to see them do, lost time spent with them, things never said to them. And things never done – though that last was a lot smaller than I would have expected.

Of all the things I could have regretted not doing that didn’t directly involve spending time with people or animals, the only two were that I wanted to spend more time out in nature (particularly wandering around wooded, watered mountains), and that I didn’t publish a particular series of novels I wrote. These are books that are close to my heart and set geographically close to where I live; by the time I wrote them I’d been wanting to write them for over twenty years. I’ve been considering self-publishing them but hadn’t yet because I was hesitant over how good they might be without running them past a professional editor.

But there it was – out of all my unpublished books (or unwritten ones!), just those. And of my material possessions, there was no wondering what would happen to my family heirlooms, which I’ve hoped for so long I could pass on to future generation. No wondering about the fate of my several thousand books, despite preservation being a primary reason for keeping so many of them. If there was any glimmer of real regret about any physical items being lost, it would have been over my photo albums and journals.

So, even being dead, I could be surprised. Shocked, really, that of all the things in my life, my real priorities, the things I thought of when my life was over, boiled down to this: Spend more time with those you love, spend more time among nature, and write. That was it.

I thought to myself that maybe I could get a message that I was OK to my mother and Alexandra – that of all the people I know, they were the most likely to hear or otherwise be aware of my message.

But I didn’t stay dead. I came back with this realization and retained it when I woke up. Like I said, the mist was a way station; I just didn’t realize until the end of the dream that the train could travel both ways. I didn’t have to go forward into the next life, at least not at that moment.

With more than a few reservations I quizzed my pendulum about the dream. No, it said, I did not literally die in my sleep, but I did travel to the place that would have been my first stop. It was a heads up – or a warning. That the path I’m on could lead to it becoming literal sooner rather than later.

So I summed things up, and it wasn’t a pleasant summary. My eating habits, frankly, are crap. Centered around fried foods. (My cholesterol is undoubtedly high.) I haven’t gotten any serious exercise in months, though at least most days I take my dog on a short walk, so that’s better than zero. As I said in an earlier blog, I sweat the little stuff, the big stuff, and some things in between – there have been times when I’ve gotten myself so worked up about something I was afraid I really would give myself a heart attack or a stroke. I’m overweight – not obese but much heavier than I’d like to be. I have mitral valve prolapse – which can allow blood to backflow in the heart – though at least a few years ago it was called not serious, affecting me just enough to make my heart sputter a little now and again but usually letting my heartbeat be reset with nothing more than a cough. I’m borderline hypothyroid. I suffer from chronic depression.

On the good side, over the last few weeks that I’ve resumed my spiritual explorations, my stress has eased, my depression has lessened, and I’ve felt more relaxed and hopeful than I had in years. My sleep has improved. I don’t sweat the little, moderate, or large things quite as much as I did. That’s got to help somewhat.

I’ve written here before that my theosophical beliefs include one taking care of those people, animals, and places in your life. I neglected to remember that this also includes taking care of yourself.

But – what else can I do with this realization? I suppose the answer is to focus on those things that are most important to me as revealed by my dream journey and not let myself get derailed from them so often and so badly. That if I focus on what’s truly important, other things may fall into place.

There was one thing I did immediately. Those lines I wrote in my Loving Fiercely entry, the last message I would send to my loved ones, the one that starts “Even if we haven’t seen each other in a long time, I still love you” … I took those lines and sent them to the people (who don’t already read this blog) who I would give them to if I really was dying and could only send one last message.

Because why not? Whether I’m dying or not, they’re still true, and I want those loved ones to know those words are true. And after last night I can’t think of a single good reason to wait to tell them.


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