Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dreams and Omens, The Mystery Begins

You know how, when you learn a new word, that word suddenly starts popping up everywhere?

Well, ever since I decided I needed to go to India, Indian people started popping up everywhere.

The most poignant example of this concerns my dog Toby.
Toby and I dancing in our younger days.
Toby was a great, lovable soul.  He forgave me lots.  He was unbelievably forgiving about my leaving him for 3 months to travel to Europe and, before that, for going to Florida to do a show.  Oh, sure, he'd be a little distant or pull too hard on the leash for a while after I returned to let me know his feelings had been hurt but, all in all, he let a lot slide.  As he got older and began his battle with cancer it became clear to both of us that neither he nor I could stand another long separation while he was still among the living.  This is one of the reasons I didn't achieve my goal of going to India when I was 40.

Last spring, Toby really started to hurt.  I agonized and agonized about when to make THE call to his vet.  One night Toby and I were hanging out in the living room and he was whimpering so much that I just knew it was time.  It being after business hours I called what I thought was an emergency vet I'd been to once before, years ago, but when I arrived to a new address, thinking they'd moved, I found a completely different operation.  The place I ended up was in a little strip mall.  The unpainted walls looked as if they'd just been puttied with drywall caulk five minutes before I walked in. A gorgeous young Indian man greeted me, checked me in, came to get Toby and me from the car when it was time to meet the doctor who was, it turned out, the younger man's father.  The nurse was the doctor's wife.  It was a family business.

The doc took a look at Toby, gave me a surgical option that might have given my pup a few more months, and I decided Toby would not like or understand surgery and a mediocre and temporary recovery.

Putting Toby to sleep was very difficult.  His veins were tired and didn't want to take the anesthesia. was my baby and he was scared and he was leaving me and its always a leap of faith that somehow, somehow your beloved animal will know that its because you love them so much that you are willing to ease their way into the afterlife.

While the doc and his wife struggled to get the chemicals into Toby's system I tried to calm him through tears that grew to intermittent sobbing.  At one point the doc had to go to get some different supplies and left Toby, me and the nurse sitting on the floor.  The lovely Indian woman stroked Toby's head whispering kind words one minute, then she stroked my head and whispered loving words to me...back and forth.  When the doctor returned we all sat together, in a room no bigger than most closets, while the drugs finally did their work.

As soon as it was all over the lovely Indian couple left me so I could say goodbye to Toby but not before hugs were exchanged and parental pleas were made to me not to drive until I had sat for a good long while to recover a bit.

As instructed, I sat in my car for 20 minutes or so flooded with both grief and awe.  I could not have imagined a better set of humans to go through that experience with and I was suddenly aware that now, now I could go to India without leaving Toby heartbroken.

And my heartbreak?

It will mend; I think I know where.

When I drove away I felt certain that the animal clinic would vanish like Brigadoon, so angelic and unexpected were the family I'd met.

Since then I meet someone from India or of Indian origin three or four times a week, which never used to happen before I bought my ticket.  There's always about each encounter the sense of other-worldly intervention, like these souls are little sparks of light meant to convey approval by the universe for my impending departure.

No.  I don't really think the universe is specially creating a web of Indian folk around me just so I will feel better about my crazy decision to up and leave my regular life for 3 and a half months.

I think the universe is creating webs around each of us, sending each of us clues all the time about whether we are on the right track or not....

Last night was the first time I dreamt of India.  I was walking down a road that ran along a bank that bordered a large body of water.  There were three weddings taking place along this lane.  The first had two brides in bright white dresses, blond, both of them, like super-models.  Their entire wedding party was made up of equally stunning women in bright red, monk-type robes, only worn off the shoulder or strapless.

The second couple being married were a very handsome man and woman in their 40s, witnessed by a group of 20 or so men and women.  Everyone was dressed in warm tones and natural fibers and everything about the party felt of the Earth, clean and calm and peaceful.

The third celebration was the third day of a traditional Indian wedding taking place on a Wednesday. (3, 3, 3)  The bride and groom were nowhere to be seen, but members of the congregation were standing both on the road around me and down on the bank, all anxiously awaiting the guests of honor.  One Indian woman next to me spit down below to clear her throat in a manner I associate more with men here in the states.  A British woman down below yelled up, "Do you mind." The Indian woman spit again.

I was reminded of this story my friend Sarah told me years ago about traveling in India by train.  She was sleeping in a seat by the window and she awoke just in time to see a stream of urine passing in front of her eyes.  A young boy child was standing on the seat next to her, peeing out the window.

Down on the beach of the third dream wedding, another woman started singing a sort of call-and-response song, very deep and throaty.  She was pausing every few seconds to take a drag on a very long home rolled cigar.  She would sing sing sing, inhale, sing sing sing, inhale.  The crowd would respond during her inhales.  The whole group was waiting and singing.

Then my phone went off...a text from my the real world, and I started to leave the beach, the weddings, India, behind.  I was sad to be drifting towards daylight and I tried lingering in the dusk of the mysterious beach, in the aura of the musky smoke of the sensual singer's song and cigar for as long as my mind would let me.  As my wakeful brain took control, I wondered what my dream might portend.

Omens and dreams are strange things.  All are subject to interpretation.  I've decided that, for now, I will simply report on these misty and ambiguous happenings.

We shall soon discover if these occurrences be omens, or just strange quirks of fate and my imagination.

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