on dying as living

I dreamt last night that I was being called to account for having written a blog post on inequality, race, education, and religion, hauled up before a group of academics and policy makers convening deep within a mountain bunker for the sole purpose of sentencing me for my actions. The site was brand new (dream-wise) and entertaining: miles of long, gorgeously appointed and decorated tunnels, for they all lived within the posh bunkers and essentially had a whole city for the well-off there (and nary a person of limited means or color among them!). A neat little whizzing train schussed the guards and me through the warrened lanes to their superior court.

The ‘being brought up on charges’ is old news for me: life-wise, because my first instance of that happened in family and church the week I turned five and has re-happened regularly ever since, and dream-wise, because versions of the dream have recurred many times when some authority figure was angry with me in real life for having spoken up about something that desperately needed speaking up about. (When people get ticked off at you for speaking up, you can be sure of one thing: you are hitting a nerve that normally gets to whale on somebody else in the cloak of utter silence. And there is always a huge social cost for outing that kind of hypocrisy.)

Here’s the cool, nice-to-share bit of that, though: always before, whether in the real or dream world, I would get a tense feeling and knot in my throat and stomach and feel the heaviness of the disapprovals. I held my head high through them, but only out of sheer stubbornness, and the pain was longstanding thereafter. It’s never been easy to be attacked for saying something that someone else doesn’t want said. Last night came on the heels of me having had some choice, guttural words with the Almighties (all of ’em, bar exactly none) in the real, real world and its gloamings, and the following dream? Was spot on for my new space to be. I felt no tension with the condemnations (handed down by a person I knew), no sadness at the betrayals (among the conveners were a number of people I know well), no knots in throat or stomach at the long winding journey into the mountain of the privileged silencers (it really was just a fascinating space), and then this: n.o. f.e.a.r. whatsoever. This is the truth of trying to beat people down for speaking up in a society that quells honesty on every hand: eventually nothing you can do will shut them up. Ever.

And then the coolest things began to happen in the dream: some of the well-to-do (two librarians and three archivists) began slipping around the conveners, securing my backpack (which the accusers hadn’t let me bring), and whispering that they were organizing a community response in support, “so that you will not stand alone at the tribunal,” no less! And we smiled and laughed together in the shadow of the great hall, as happy as children who love the world and do not yet know its terrors, and I awoke on walking in to receive my sentence of death feeling perfectly, gloriously unafraid and undeterred and holding only love in my heart for all—even these who were ending my life because it shed light on their doings. All love, nothing else. The only thing I could think was, I have done what I could. So be.

Maybe the almighties are kinder than I have of late been granting. (To be fair, it’s hard for any caring human to tell, given how wrecked things are in the world just now.) Or maybe even those who assail us are toothless in the presence of undeterred love—which speaks when it must, no matter the cost. Or maybe it was just an entertaining dream. I know this much, though: I am a human being of earth, which means I’m already sentenced to certain death, and I’ll be tinker-damned if I’ll stay silent about the Ills of Now to avoid repercussions ever again. There is a quiet, surpassing peace in that knowing. Death loses its sting entirely when you’re fully aware of how deeply you’re already in it, so there’s not one thing left to lose. All that counts every day is that we stand forth for what we know to the core to be true: living full out, full-throated, unafear’d of soul enough to hold the body’s fears in check, and heart carrying one’s banner high. To do anything less is to agree to be something less than human.



    1. Author

      I have always loved the sound of that word when it comes from non-judgmental souls!

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