This week, I had a series of river dreams. Dreams with rivers in them always catch my attention. If the dream contains water, I tend to remember the dream in the morning. I have dreams that I term “karmic garbage” where I am just going through the daily motions of life, but in my sleep. River dreams are never like that. River dreams tell me to stop, and be aware. River dreams are usually the universe trying to tell me something, and it is up to me to figure out what it is saying.
I started doing dream work years ago. There was a group that met in the evenings, and that dream group was the first evening commitment I made after weaning my son and finally being free at bed time. I ran to that group with a series of dreams about rivers. The river was never the same, the banks were all different. Seasons changed and the people were varied. But, with every dream, there was awareness. I knew as I climbed out of sleep and back towards awakening, that this was the river I died in. The dreams terrified me. I already had a piglet style respect for white water. I knew that someday we would take our young children on river trips. I did not want to die that way, however. That year, I worked through that series of dreams. I continued to collect more river dreams. I learned what water symbolized for me. I learned that there are other types of death than the one my physical body would go through. I finally had a dream where I dove into a river, and felt myself begin to get pinned in an undercut rock wall. I knew I would die. I awoke before I did so. Amazingly, it was not frightening. I was not terrified. The overwhelming feeling as I awoke was one of peace.
I stopped having regular river dreams after the series ended in my death. I still dreamt, I still went to dream group. Karmic garbage dreams sometimes held bits of wisdom for how to deal with daily struggles. I had car and airplane dreams where I was not in control, and then a series where I was always driving or in the pilot’s seat. I had dreams about emergency vehicles, and a sweet dream where Jim and I were sitting by the side of a lake. I cradled his head in my lap, and he had a very bizarre male pattern baldness. A few months later, he was on a joy ride to Kootenai Medical Center in the back of an ambulance. Two months after that, the radiation baldness arrived in the exact same pattern as the dream’s. I was again terrified of my dreams. I kept attending dream group. A friend or two by my side always renders things less scary. I had comforting dreams during Jim’s illness and in my early grief. My dream group disbanded last summer. My remembered dreams became fewer and further between. I stopped paying attention to the dreams I had, using my early morning hour before swim/run to read or do chores. I learned that a glass of wine during dinner meant fewer dreams. I missed my dream group, but as the holidays came and went, I missed my dreams more. I started skipping the glass of wine with dinner. I returned to being quiet again in the early morning. My dreams are back, and I am again dreaming about rivers.
Emerald is back in my house for the weekend after an 18 day trip down the Grand Canyon. She has decided she wants to river guide after graduation for a company that does multi-day trips on free-flowing Idaho rivers. January is river lottery month. I will be throwing my name into the hat in hopes of securing a permit for a trip this summer. It is snowing, building up the snow pack that will feed those Idaho rivers as the days turn hot and dry. On Tuesday, I leave for the Chiriqui’ Province of Panama. While most folks think of tropical beaches and the canal, my brother-in-law and I will actually be in the province most known for its highlands, and its rivers. I am again dreaming about rivers. I wonder what the universe is trying to tell me.