This post is inspired by a dream that my mother had that brought her comfort. As such, it may be a bit more stream-of-consciousness than usual.
When we’re facing challenges in life, particularly when they have to do with illness or death, sometimes it’s really difficult to feel all right. And by all right I mean to be able to stay in your center, know what is true for you, and know what the right next thing to do is in a calm way. You know, to not be freaking out and overwhelmed.
It’s tempting and easy to feel the fear, frustration, uncertainty, depression, and anguish, and be caught up by the drama of it all.
But if we live in that space, it’s very hard to move forward and it’s very easy to spiral downward.
This is where my mother's dream comes in. Objectively, it’s been a tough year both in the world and personally. In her dream, she was washing the sink, a white ceramic one that had a lot of dirt on it, and as she was scrubbing the dirt away to reveal the whiteness of the ceramic, a kaleidoscope of images came to her mind.
They were images of lovely times. Of connection and joy. When my brother was very small, he invariably woke up at 5 AM in the most exquisitely cheerful mood you could ever ask a living thing to be in.
When my mother was in her early 30s, at her workplace she met several other women that became part of a lifelong generational family that we are all still part of and supported by.
These were some of the images and feelings that came to her in the dream as she was cleaning this dirty sink. And then in the dream, a voice said this is the balm. This was one of those dreams that really resonated with her and so she looked up what the word meant because she wasn’t sure what the voice in the dream was talking about. The definition she decided that she liked was, "Something that heals or soothes, makes you feel better."
And how she decided to interpret the dream was that even when things feel really hard, like cleaning a really dirty old sink, or having to face death and loss, or feeling separate from loved ones, in our souls and hearts there is that nourishment that we got from all the sweet times and feelings. And we can access that whenever we need it as a balm to our hearts and as a way to soften the focus on discomfort.
And here’s the real point – even in the midst of difficulty, the balm is still happening. My mother and I got to go out to lunch together after a long time of being apart and talked and talked in a charming place with very interesting and well-made food. That was balm. Me looking up at the sky while it’s rainy but I can see blue sky and beautiful cloud formations and black birds flying in front of it all. That is the balm.
It goes back in a way, to an idea I’ve talked about before- there is always equal challenge and support in this life. For every hardship, there is a sweetness, for every loss something new arises. We get to choose if we’re open to that vision or not, we get to choose if we want to be stuck in our pain or not. Sometimes in an odd way pain is comforting, or at least more comfortable than whatever other options we see.
And please understand, I am not judging you if you are stuck in pain. Sometimes that’s just the way things are. But when you’re ready, you could look around just a little bit, you don’t even have to lift your head all the way up, you could just glance to the side, and there is some balm waiting for you.