The Pack and the Past

 

I’ve been tying to grapple with the changes that have occurred all through my life while simultaneously trying to catch up with all the changes that occurred during the billions of years that came before me.

It’s a dizzying experience.

Some say knowledge is not discovered. It is remembered. Did someone discover that? Or was it remembered?

When I was a child, I remembered so many more of my dreams. Visions. Then, the swarm of external stimuli ruptured my cognitive world as the modern world I was engrossed in during the 90’s flooded my vision and caught my attention like a moth to light. It was not until in college that I stepped far enough out of this modern entrapment did I begin to have visions again. I went to Hawaiʻi as part of a kind of college abroad program to learn about the field of environmental science. The trip proved to be life-changing. For the 7 weeks our group lived and camped outside, often trekking to the remotest areas on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. My dreams came flooding back, lucid as ever.

As a young male, I was primed for adventure. Leaving the domain of the University campus to explore the terrain of a far away place was a paramount decision in my awakening. To awake to the vision of the dream is the paradoxical relationship between the temporal world and the infinite. Up until this point, my life seemed to be a one track momentum hurdling me forward. It spun me into an existential crisis. I used to think that I was a late bloomer, since I still haven’t really gotten my career off the ground,  but looking back to those days, I realized  by stepping laterally off of the known path, I was descending into a calling that would forever be my guide in life.

We still do not understand where the stuff of dreams and visions come from. Those who approach internal imagery with uncertainty are wise in doing so. The humble way is one of discipline and uncertainty, based on the value of respecting that which you do not fully understand. Another paradox. Only by acknowledging one’s lack of understanding does one gain more understanding.

The fact that my dreams returned with such vividness during my winter in Hawaiʻi, I did not understand, but I did understand that it was something worth paying attention to. I recognized to be skeptical of the messages from the world around me, for they were only repeated messages from one mind to the next, lost in a lifeless regurgitation of jumbled words. I learned that to only trust the experiences I had that were deeply moving. The ones that moved across my skin like electricity. That triggered deep memories, or lit up my dream world.

I once had dream, not too long ago, in which I was not human, but a Cheetah. I was fast, agile, and stealthy. But I had not thoughts. It was a strange experience. Both foreign and familiar. Primal. It was a kind of remembering. A kind of returning. I was looking around, orienting myself to this new environment. It was day, bright as can be, with wind blowing across plains of grasses. I was hidden in the grass. I looked around, smelling, and caught glimpse of one, then two other cheetahs. I knew them. Somehow I knew this. And then I knew what I was doing. I was hunting. We were hunting.

As we prepared to execute our attack, there abruptly appeared another group of cheetahs. My pack froze in hesitation. So did the other. Caught in uncertainty. What were we supposed to make of this? The tension grew. Tails flicked. It was not worth it. You couldn’t have two separate hunting packs going after the same stock. It just didn’t make sense. We knew it wouldn’t work.

I don’t remember the rest. I don’t know what happened after. Maybe I forgot. Maybe I woke up. But when I did wake up, I remember laying there in amazement. How could I transform into a Cheetah like that? How could my imagination conjure up such an experience? I was not merely watching these Cheetahs. I was one of them. I felt like one. I walked on four legs. I breathed through a snout. I perceived with no thoughts.

It is dreams like this, and other like-visions in my life that have swept me into a world of questions and mystery. As I entered my adulthood and with that the anxiety of surviving on my own, my only solace has been to value everything that has come before, that is, to walk forward in life with uncertainty, and pry deep into the source of matter and meaning.

Perhaps then I will remember, and maybe we all will someday, how to properly live with each other, and all life on this planet. But I don’t think it can be done by telling each other how to properly live. I think we can only tell ourselves that, discovered through our dreams and visions ignited  by the deep, deep, primordial past.

 

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