I see a group of children; perhaps a dozen. They appear to range in age from 4 to 10. They are scattered across a dry riverbed; sitting, or kneeling, or squatting among the dry river rock. They all have blank zombie-like expressions on their dirty faces. Their hair is wild and matted, and they are wearing rags. They pick up rocks and then throw them back down. I do not understand why they are doing this. None of them speak. All I can hear is the incessant clacking of rocks as the children robotically pick up rocks and then throw them off to the side among more rocks. The children are not even observing the rocks they pick up, they just pick them up and then throw them back down, while staring ahead blankly, no expressions on their faces at all. The symphony of the rocks hitting other rocks soon starts to sound just like a light rainfall. Suddenly I understand what they were doing.
I walked past the children, proceeding up the dry riverbed. With the rainfall of rocks echoing in my head, my gaze focused on what awaited at a higher elevation. Before I knew it, I was gliding through the air just above the riverbed. I slowly flew up the mountain, following the riverbed. The vegetation was extremely sparse, with only an occasional stunted tree. There were many corpses of dead trees along what used to be the riverbank. I saw no sign of animals or people.
As I floated over the river rock, everything changed into an entirely different scene. I was now a young boy running with all my might across the cobblestones of a dusty old European city. Fat circles of water splat on the cobblestones all around me as an afternoon thunderstorm descended upon me. My head was filled with the smells of the rain and all the dust it was raising. The sound of my shoes on the cobblestone street echoed between the three- and four-story buildings on either side of the street. The smell of potted geraniums was suddenly very apparent.
I was filled with joy as I ran. I was not running from something, but rather towards something. I could not tell what it was that I was running towards, but I was very eager and full of the excitement of anticipation.
I ran and ran. The rain intensified. Before I knew it, the rain was coming down in torrents and I was soaked. But it felt wonderful! I was now squinting to keep the water out of my eyes.
Suddenly, I was shooting up some stairs. I finally slowed down as I approached the ornate blue door of a building that I felt like was home. I went through the door, and, not bothering to shake the water off of me, I proceeded up a flight of indoor stairs. Coming to a door at the top of the stairs, I went inside and was met by a cacophony of human sounds. I heard many people talking, I heard pots and pans and dishes and silverware, I heard coughing, and I heard children playing and crying. Someone was whistling. I also heard the rain pounding outside and thought it sounded better from outside, but I loved the sound anyway. The sound of family was reassuring and comforting, but the sound of the rain thundering on the house was closer to my heart.
I proceeded through this din with marked determination; hearing, but not looking at any of the humans — not even looking at the other children. I marched past everyone, heading for a narrow hallway. Someone shouted at me, but I kept on going, briskly walking through the long hallway until I got to a wooden door at the very end of the hallway. I proceeded through this door and slammed it shut behind me, a sense of relief suddenly filling me.
And then I woke up.
I did not get up, though. I stayed under the covers with my head on the pillow trying to remember my dream. What was in that room? And when I was the boy running through the crowded room, and someone called out to me; they said my name, but now I could not remember what they called me. Since the boy never looked at any of those people, I never got to see any of their faces. A feeling was telling me, though, that they were familiar souls. And then there were all those children in the dry riverbed. What was that all about?
I turned over on my other side, and briefly looked out the window by the bed. It was getting light out, but the sun had not yet risen. I closed my eyes and tried to get back into that dream, but the dream began dissipating, and I felt myself drift off in other directions.
I was a black man walking the beach on the Indian Ocean in East Africa. The sound of the waves barely overshadowed my sobbing as I walked. There was a great sense of loss and despair within me. It felt like I just tragically lost a great love. Tears gushed down my face and I did not wipe them off. They fell down to my bare chest where they merged with my sweat and the salt spray of the ocean. I felt as though I had been walking — and crying — for a long time.
In the distance was a giant baobab tree growing just off the beach. It was a huge one, and I was getting the impression it was very special in some way. I steered my walk towards the tree, and I was overcome with relief as I approached it. It apparently was this tree to which I had been walking all day.
When I arrived at the tree, I immediately commenced to hugging it. Of course the tree was so huge in its girth that it would have taken a dozen men to fully encircle it. But I pressed myself up against it, trying to touch it with as much of myself as I could. As I caressed and hugged the tree, I wailed, letting loose with all the despair I had experienced. It was almost as if I was giving that despair and sorrow to the tree; as though the tree was sucking it all out of me into its bark. I cried and wailed for a long time until there simply was no more left in me.
But I continued hugging the tree. I felt strange energy shooting throughout my body; going in and out of the tree and through me. Once I had stopped wailing, the only sounds I could hear were the waves slapping the beach, and the leaves of the tree rustling in the wind. Very slowly, I was overcome with an intense peace. All the pain and sorrow and despair were slowly turning into joy. The loss I had experienced was still there vaguely, but it no longer felt like a loss. Strangely, it now felt like a gift.
With the sound of the waves in my head, I continued hugging the tree, luxuriating in the wonderful new feelings. But suddenly, I was no longer that black man hugging the tree. Instead I was that young boy who was running through the European city, and instead of a tree, I was hugging a violin.
The boy’s eyes were closed, so I could not see where he was, but I could hear the thunderstorm; the pounding of the rain on the roof, and the thunder rumbling every other minute or so. I knew it was the boy, though, and he was concentrating on feeling the storm. He was not frightened by it at all. He seemed to be feeling great joy from it. It almost seemed as though he were trying to merge with the storm.
And then I realized that he was trying to consciously channel the energy of the storm through him into the violin. He was clutching it very tightly to his chest, and very intently sending the energy of the storm into the instrument. His focus was amazing. The thunder never made him even flinch. Even with his eyes closed, some of the lightning was bright enough to see right through his eyelids. He must have been standing before a window.
I then felt the violin getting very hot in the boy’s hands. The bow he clutched very tightly in his right hand while he held the violin with both hands; strings out, the bridge level with his heart. I felt energy going through the boy and filling both the violin and the bow. And suddenly I understood what the boy was doing. He had no training in music, and could not, in fact, read music. He could play only the music that he put into the violin by way of this channeling method. He was somehow recording the storm, and then later he would play that recording by letting it come through of its own accord while he played. It was as if the storm created a piece of music, and the boy channeled it into the violin, and he could access that music just by playing the violin. I wondered how many songs the boy had in the violin.
The storm was passing over and soon the boy came out of his closed-eyes reverie. He slowly and carefully placed the violin and bow atop a small wooden table. I realized he was in a very small and dark room with but one window. The only furniture in the room was that small table, a chair, and a small bed. There was but one adornment upon the walls, and that was an unframed painting of a sunflower. Upon seeing the painting, I became suddenly aware of the fact that there was a song in the violin about the sunflower.
The boy abruptly turned and left the room through that same door he had entered earlier to such great relief. As the boy, I opened the door and walked out, but once through the door I was no longer that little boy.
I was now a young man in my twenties. With a machete in my hand, I was standing in a large field with several other men. We were harvesting a crop. As I took a short break, I could hear the sound of machetes hacking away at the tall plants. There was the sound of the machetes of those workers near me, but there was also the distant drone of many machetes in nearby fields. The sun was very hot and I was sweating profusely. Looking around, I could see nothing but endless fields of the same tall plant as far as I could see. As I wiped the sweat off my face with my arm, I suddenly heard a woman’s voice.
The man that I was did not seem surprised by this at all. I did not see any women nearby. The woman’s voice was a whisper and seemed to be coming from inside the mind of the man I was.
The woman’s voice began whispering a song, “I’m gonna have lunch with my baby by the old oak tree. He’s got something that he wants to tell me.”
The man that I was smiled and then he mentally whispered a song back to her; “You are the best. You are the most. Like cinnamon toast, you are so dandy tastin’.”
The woman’s voice giggled, then she spoke to him, “I’ve picked a thousand peppers for you this morning. Each pepper felt my love for you, and they also felt how much I long for lunch today. Are you working hard?”
The man replied to her. “My muscles are rejoicing. They will not relax until they feel your touch. I think lunch will be called soon. I will be waiting for you at the end of the field and then we will walk together to the lunch barn. I swear if I could not see you for lunch, I do not think I could make it through the afternoon of harvesting.”
The man that I was resumed his hacking with the machete, and the voices stopped. Who was this man talking to? I could no longer pick up his thoughts, or else he was not thinking any, being consumed with his work. I could feel the man’s strength as he hacked the plants off just above the roots. His breathing was hard, but steady and regular. He seemed focused on his work, but I was soon becoming mesmerized by the sound of all the machetes, near and far. They started to sound like fat raindrops pounding down upon the earth. I felt myself starting to float away, but then I suddenly heard a man screaming. I could not hear what the man was screaming, but apparently all the laborers knew what it was, for they all stopped their work. It was like rain coming to a quick stop. I then heard several of the men shout out. The man that I was stopped his harvesting and began walking in the direction all the other men were walking in.
Then I heard him talk in his head again to the invisible woman, “It’s lunch time, my love. Put those peppers down and come to your man. I must have you in my arms.”
There were dozens of workers walking up the road to the lunch barn. The man waited until he could see her, then he stood and watched her approach him. She was wearing denim overalls, and a yellow blouse, and a straw hat with a yellow ribbon. As she smiled, her white teeth shined against her chocolate skin. They did not say anything in their heads, but their eyes were locked. As she reached him, they were about to embrace, but that is when I woke up.
I sat up in bed so that I would not fall back asleep. I replayed the dreams in my head so that I would remember them. Then I got up. It was my day off and I had a long hike planned.
That afternoon I went on my hike. I walked up a dry arroyo into the foothills just outside of town. Short pinon pine trees dotted the landscape, being interspersed with shrubby Juniper and the occasional cholla cactus. As I walked over the river rock of the dry arroyo, I could see in the sand and rocks where the water had once flowed. I followed this natural pathway towards its source.
I walked slowly and deliberately, my eyes taking in as much of the landscape as they could. The air was still — no birds — and gray clouds loomed in the distance. There was a very faint smell of rain in the air.
I stopped suddenly as I thought I heard a fiddle playing in the distance. It was so faint I did not want to make any noise walking over the river rocks. But as soon as I got perfectly still and quiet, the fiddle music stopped. It had an old world sound to it, but it was played with bluegrass abandon — yet ever so quietly. There was a melody that — hearing only part of it — eluded me. Yet it was familiar somehow! The fiddle music blended perfectly with a harmony that seemed to be coming out of the surrounding hillsides. But then suddenly I no longer heard anything but intense quiet.
The moment of pure silence was long, but it ended when I heard a tiny thumping sound, and then another, and then another and another. Suddenly, it sounded like tiny pebbles were falling from the sky onto the rocks of the dry arroyo I was in — and the pebbles seemed to be turning into bigger rocks. Soon, they were falling all around me. I looked skyward and let the rain hit my face.