Sara awakened from her dream that morning earlier than usual. It must have been the 7pm bedtime the night before. Oft recited words ran through her mind like a cursed mantra that almost blocked the images she wanted to savor. Remembering the dreams was a key part of Sara’s ability to survive in the world. They were her personal messengers of light, the only messages that allowed Sara to know herself like she’d always wanted others to know her.
“It’s better to give than to receive.” The words resonated as though it was 1960 again. Sara’s Mother taught her early on to be considerate of others, drumming that golden rule into every cell of her body. She wasn’t allowed to be an individual with her own thoughts and ideas, nor was she given many opportunities to speak or show that she had any of her own gifts, as she was busy making other people feel more comfortable.
Sara knew the words and the beliefs she developed from those words were a lie all along. She just couldn’t separate them from herself long enough to find the truth. At some point along the way they were so entangled with her sense of self, it became incredibly challenging to move them out of her head. So she just left them there and tried to overcome these “prickers” that grew like weeds on her lifeline.
Last night’s dream was very pointed and simple. It’s amazing that at first she thought the dirty dinginess was hers. Amazing, yet not surprising, as the wiring of old was tenacious in spite of its fraying ends.
A house. It was a small house on the main street of town; a town that Sara loved and missed now that she’d been away for nearly 20 years. The walls inside the house were clean and white, even the kitchen was all white. The furniture and other accoutrements were sparse, orderly and arranged nicely. There was nothing on the walls. Sara stood in the middle of the main room, feeling enthusiastic about creating life in her new home, a place she’d definitely been before.
When she began to place her things on the kitchen shelves, she found a cupboard that had not been emptied. “Oh, I guess the old tenant forgot some things,” Sara didn’t give it another thought and began to clear it out into a box to give the landlord.
“This is strange,” Sara said to herself, her arm immersed up to her shoulder, wading through things in what seemed to be an endlessly deep hole in the wall. “Why can’t I finish? I’ll never have time to make-up my bedroom and unpack my clothes.”
As she spoke to herself in her dream, she looked up and saw an open window. Walking through an opening in the wall, she went to that window to close it. “I think it’s going to rain, I’d better shut this.” As she slid the window closed, she looked around and found she was in a large open living space with many doorways at all the directionals. The place was a mess with furniture, overflowing boxes of junk and smelly old clothes. The floors were filthy and the table lamps were on.
As Sara made her way to all the doorways, she switched off a lamp or two and looked into the bedrooms. “What a mess! My God, the tenants have left this place a total wreck and I had no idea it was so huge!” Sara scratched her head, looking around in shock, wondering what she’d gotten herself into and how she was going to clean out all the junk. “What exactly am I going to do with all these extra rooms? I had no idea they were part of the deal.”
All the windows were open just a crack; all the lights were on–all but those she’d closed or switched off. And as Sara took inventory of this place, she slowly stepped back to get a wider view, realizing this was not her job.
“Oh,” she said it matter-of-factly, “I don’t have to handle this mess.” She turned the lights back on and reopened the windows.
In a flash, she was up in the air someplace looking down. For the first time ever, in that moment, she saw the dividing line between her little white home and the other dark shambles. The houses were close together, but they weren’t overlapping; they weren’t even touching. She knew right then what was true.
None of this was her job to manage in anyway, it never was. From her vantage point on the ground, the line was never clear to Sara. Wherever that command had come from, she always took on the work as if it was her own.
“Never again,” she said. “Never again.
When Sara awakened that morning, life was different. As she went on with her day, she found herself deeply saddened, intermittently crying, feeling lonely, lost and unworthy, as if some larger part of her was missing. It felt as though all her connections to life outside herself were suddenly severed.
This is an excerpt from one chapter of a novel.
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