suddenly I see.

In my dream it was beautiful, the way Indonesia is beautiful in that green has never been so green and sometimes broken is the only beauty. But in my dream I am not in Indonesia, or at least not entirely because while I am walking barefoot across the dusty grid of a swamped sawah I can see ahead of me the bulbous rounds of Otago's Moeraki shore and my kiwi comrades are walking arms linked across my sisters' shoulders at the far spit where the land turns up into rugged Cornish cliffside, the top of which spirals into the pony-proportioned perfection of an Austrian castle. My brother is knee-deep in surf like T-Street at sunset and none of it makes any sense, not really, but I guess that's what to dream means, anyway. Everything you love, everyone you love, all in one place.

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In my folklore class we talk about worldviews, which Dr. Eliason writes in blue on the board in his big-block boy handwriting and defines as the complete set of assumptions, attitudes, beliefs you possess about the world, the cosmos, and everything else. We all have them, and not just religiously; worldviews can be about stuff like political campaigns or travel itineraries or the particular advantages of a good high-heeled shoe. Like how a Maori might tell you the Moeraki boulders are the remains of eel baskets, calabashes and kumara, washed ashore from the wreckage of Arai-te-uru, just like geologists would say the strange stones are merely concretions created by the cementation of the Paleocene mudstone of the Moeraki formation, from which they were exhumed by coastal erosion. Both of which, incidentally, I assume to be true, depending on the day you ask.

I also believe that dreams can mean something.

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I am walking alone, but towards together, and it is not like any dream I have ever had until I reach for the camera slung to swinging just above my right hip and before I have even so much as framed that laughing light of the new-spring sun against Iraani's wild wind-crazy hair it has become my most familiar nightmare of nearly three years now, which goes something like this: my camera does not work.

At least not really. Kind of. Almost. Functionally absolutely nothing seems to be wrong with it, but in my every attempt to capture the wide-wonderful world around me the thing becomes impossible. The shutter slows, the lens cracks, the aperture acts out, the film won't advance and meanwhile I am missing the world, the cosmos, and everything else that is in sudden sparkling sublimity all around me, unattainable. One time I am in Jordan and my dad is young, younger even than he looks now at forty-nine, and there is Petra and there are petroglyphs and I am putting all my weight into picture-taking the past to every effect but success.  Another dream I am closer to home and in my own lifetime, the cold mountain stream at Sugarhouse running rivulets around my bare ankles as I crouch low to capture my baby sisters playing Pocahontas just around the river bend. It is childhood and I cannot get it right, sunflare obstructing the pure light of Olivia's crooked smile and an abnormal aperture destroying the line of Naomi's golden bob against the baby curve of her jaw. This time I give up entirely, dropping the camera into the water to watch  it pushed and pulled up and over the pebbled creek bed and out into open current. Useless.

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The thing about worldviews, though, is that they're never wrong or right, they just are, which sounds apathetic but actually you have to be very careful. Because worldviews are dangerous, as in often very fragile, and Dr. Eliason warns us about this, about the especially perilous pitfalls of ethnocentrism and ego.

All day I am unsettled because I have had this dream and it follows me, but it is nearly lunchtime before it catches up with my conscious, at which point my worldview does exactly what Dr. Eliason told it not to: shatters. Because very suddenly I see, I understand completely, because in those dreams I am myself and that camera is what I see; it is the lens with which I view the world, and something has happened to obscure it. In this instance the deduction doesn't take much--I know exactly the state I went to sleep in and see where my shutter would have stuck--but I begin to remember those other dreams, those various disasters, and begin to see a conveniently consistent thread between them all. Before those topsy-turvy trips to Nod I have exactly and always just had my worldview upset, experiences where I laid my thoughts on the table and seen them not only challenged, but effectively annihilated. I have never broken a bone, but I imagine belief can snap just as painfully. And afterward, the shock. Denial. Anger. Bargaining.

The good thing, though, he says about worldviews, is that they are elastic. Maybe they don't perhaps so much as shatter, but simply expand, and in the limbo between sudden new space and new thoughts needing proper organization, sometimes that feels a little empty. You'll need to review and rewrite, do some cut-and-paste---maybe even a little more cutting---before your world settles back into orbit. 


I wrote this exactly five months ago today, after two successively disastrous conversations, one good long curhat , and an hour's drive with Basket Case on repeat, which is why I think my high school English teacher always said you never know what you think until you write it down. I'm posting it now because a] it would just rot away in my draftbox anyhow and b] nearly half a year later, hindsight is a really good way to look at things.