Last night, I dreamed that I was standing on a beach. It was a sandy beach: I could feel the sand between my toes and the sun on my arms. The sky was blue above me. I was watching the waves, a camera in my hand, ready to take pictures. And then, while I watched, one of the waves grew larger and larger. It crashed over me and swept me out to sea. Since I saw the wave growing and could anticipate what might happen, I had enough time to put my glasses and camera into my camera bag. And then the wave crashed over me. I opened my eyes and saw swirls of blue and green, the roiling water. I felt the confusing of being swept out. When I surfaced again, I was far from shore, still holding the camera bag by its strap. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get back to land, that I couldn’t do it by myself. That I wasn’t strong enough. But the sea helped me: another wave washed back to shore and carried me along with it. I made it to land again.
I woke exhausted.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t dream the way I do: vividly, intensely. I have many dreams each night, and in each one, it’s as though the dream is my life for the length of it. I’m completely in the dream. It becomes my reality. Sometimes this is wonderful, and I wish for the dream life, not wanting to wake up. Sometimes it’s terrible, because I can have dreams that are vivid yet mundane. Dreams of being lost in enormous subway systems, where I inadvertently leave my purse and all my identification on the subway. Of being trapped in falling elevators. But of course I also have dreams in which I can fly, or I am in love, or I write an entire novel. Wonderful dreams.
I thought some images from my visit to Peaks Island would be appropriate for this blog post. They are from my bike ride around the island, when I took pictures of the rocky shore. The shore in my dream was not rocky, but I was holding the same camera.
I posted about my dream on Faceook, and several people suggested that the dream represents my fear of being overwhelmed. One said that water often represents the emotions. And I think there’s truth in that: I’m afraid of being overwhelmed, in part by all my obligations and responsibilities, and there is certainly an emotional component to it. I’ve spent the last two months traveling, and the truth is that I wish I were still traveling. I don’t particularly want to be back. I loved freeing free . . .
There were entire days, entire weeks, while I was traveling, when I felt what I can only describe as wild joy. I felt it on the day I rode on a bicycle around Peaks Island. I felt the wild joy of riding through warm, salty air, of hearing the waves crashing on the rocks, of feeling the sunlight on my arms. The wild joy of movement, and the sea. Now I am back to work.
If you’ve been through depression, even once, you’re conscious of it ever after. It’s like having had any other disease that can recur. You watch for symptoms. That’s why I called this blog post “Managing Darkness.” Because the dream is a symptom, so now I need to manage my mood and responses. Now I need to be aware, to make sure I take care of myself. Because the truth is, I don’t want to be back here yet. I miss traveling . . .
I might write more about that, about how one manages the darkness, in my next blog post. But I think it means something, too, that a wave swept me back. That the sea took me out, but then helped me back to shore. That it returned me, safely, to land.