Commentary by Susan Nidle

December 29, 1998

      MY EYES ARE FULL OF SAND, Georg"...

Empty your heart of its mortal dream.
The winds awaken, the leaves whirl round,
Our cheeks are pale, our hair is unbound,
Our breasts are heaving, our eyes are a gleam,
Our arms are waving, our lips are apart;
And if any gaze on our rushing band,
We come between him and the deed of his hand,
We come between him and the hope of his heart. ..."
w.b. yeats, 1893

Once upon a time when I was young, I dreamt repeatedly of a huge wave chasing me on my left as I ran down a long avenue, at the head of a group of people. There are other details, but I won't bother you with them now. I would awaken with my heart racing, breathless, my imagination running on. It was an image, a pattern of thought and impression given to me for a reason. Still, I feel the exact meaning eludes me, as it probably will till I leave here. I have lots of theories and conjectures. Still, I am not sure anyone knows the exact meaning of dreams and visions, at least it is not translatable. However, take this into consideration. I do live less than a mile away from a huge body of water. Three years ago, in fact, I lived in a little house actually facing that body of water (just down the hill from where I live now). If I had had to run down the street in front of my former house with a tidal wave chasing me, I would have been in the exact same scene as in my dream nearly 40 years before. Hm...And when I had the dream as a child, we lived 2500 miles away from this spot. I suppose I could get paranoid, but why bother? Whatever....

      When I was a child, I remember this one particularly oppressive, hot summer night. The humidity was so high, our clothes stuck to our bodies: there was never enough AIR. Oh, it was so muggy and hot and sticky that the whole neighborhood sat outside till after midnight. It didn't even really cool down late at night, it just got more tolerable. It was great fun to me, as I was only about six. Great to be up past 9 pm. (Of course, unbeknownst to my mother, my brother and I would often sneak downstairs late at night to watch reruns of science fiction movies, our (mine at least) favorite being "The Day The Earth Stood Still". Klatu Barada Nicktu...but that is another story.)

      That night, we sat out in the driveway on our lawn chairs with the little yellow candles burning on the pavement around us. Those magic candles supposedly warded off the dreaded mosquitoes. Hordes of mosquitoes would land on us if we moved away from the comforting safe circle of the candles, but it was a way of life in Buffalo. Like ten feet of snow in the winter. Anyway, I was quite proud of having at least twenty-seven bites on one arm alone. The adults were blathering away, I was dreaming and content to be outside, and I remember looking up towards the beloved night sky. My brother and I had this thing about the sky. I am astonished that we have not developed permanent problems with the angle of our necks and heads, like some strange mutant race. We both spent so much of our childhood time craning our necks upwards, staring, gazing.

      Well, there I was, doing the same old thing, gazing upwards. You never could tell what would pop up in that beautiful deep blue summer sky. As an adult, I have become convinced that the reason people don't see things in the sky is that they just don't take the time to look. It's out there. You just have to spend the time. Anyhow, I was slouched down in the lawn chair so as to get a better angle, ignoring the adult gossip. My mother loved to "shoot the breeze" with certain of her neighbor friends, so she was deeply occupied in that important ritual. On this occasion, my father was present. He didn't have to work that night and perhaps it was too hot to sleep. He was preoccupied too, although I have no idea why. I was in sort of a dreamy half-awake, half-asleep state, and as I gazed upwards, time changed and slowed.

      Now, what does that phrase mean? As a child, I experienced that sensation frequently, but have felt it consciously only once (maybe a little more than once) in the last few years. I can only speak from my subjective awareness and focus but, to me, the phrase 'time changed and slowed' means, literally, that the atmosphere became thicker and the scene folded in upon itself, changing the way in which it could be filtered through my awareness. In other words, the energy intensity and vibration changed so significantly that I had to kick into another gear to be able to be present and to pick it up. As a child, I was apparently able to do this more easily than I am now, as an adult.

      My focus was on what was riveting my "eyes" and my awareness: a huge ship was above us. At first, it was not moving, so I do believe that time must have stopped. It was simply just there. The ship filled most of the sky and I found myself gazing at its underbelly. Completely silent it was, as it loomed overhead, hovering, I guess, directly above the street. It seemed to hover for "awhile", but when time is not moving, how do you describe its duration? It has none.

      The next thing I knew, it was moving above the center of the block, seeming to almost follow the street. Then, as now, I was unable to judge distances or directions. (Anyone who knows me well will vouch for my quirkiness, my almost "dyslexia", when it comes to directions; I have never been very oriented on the Earth.) So I would guess that the ship was perhaps 50 feet above us. It filled an area equivalent to many houses. Lights were visible around its underside and its shape was elongated, almost like a battleship. In fact, as I recall the scene now, about 40 years later, I visualize what it must be like to be a whale swimming underneath a huge aircraft carrier, minus the obnoxious noise. It moved v-e-r-y slowly and silently. The slowness of its movement was perhaps an indication of its manipulation of time. I have come to understand that in that state of dimensional alteration, there is not necessarily any movement backwards or forwards, but more of a shifting...a changing... in which things can abruptly shift and become different. I have no memory of how it left. But I do remember looking at my father's frozen face as he gazed upwards. No one spoke about that night, but after that, my father's anger and fear increased . After gazing at that ship, perhaps he felt even more out of control and powerless, not knowing what was going on, and then "forgetting" it. Perhaps just the memory of that big thing filling up his consciousness was simply too much: he flailed out at the unknown with the only weapons he possessed, his anger and his fists.

      My father's reaction makes me realize how, when she/he is faced with the ancient unknown, vastly powerful Other, each person has a choice. The ancients bowed down and made sacrifices. They even anthropomorphized some of the beings and the occurrences, in order to bring the concepts closer to their understanding. They made the energy seem more familiar by making the Other/beings act in a familiar manner, like cheeky, moody members of their family. (You had to walk on eggshells around those gods.) Some people lived in fear, some in awe and some in worship and love.

      Years later, I was blathering on to my brother about something or other in our childhood. He was patiently listening to my jibber-jabber. All of a sudden, I mentioned that night. I said, "Do you remember that summer night?". I described the mugginess and how we all sat outside really late, and Dad was there this was odd, as usually he was gone. I said, "Do you know, after that night, Dad was even madder?". I looked at my brother quizzically. I didn't want to say, "Remember that big honking ship that filled the sky?", because I needed and wanted for him to tell ME BEFORE I told him, and I didn't want to give it away, like it was some kind of a game. It had been inside me as a distant memory for a long time, and I had never spoken about it. I guess in my head, I just needed to know if this was some silly imagined occurrence, or whether both of us had experienced it. He looked at me with a little smile and said, "Oh, yeah, the night the ship came down the middle of the street, and time stopped and we went up. Yeah, Dad saw that...Yeah, that was something, wasn't it?".

      Maybe I feel like Rocky Graziano sometimes; somebody up there likes me. The universe shows itself to each of us in strange ways, we just have to trust the deeper part of ourselves and It or Them or Us, and not settle for the easy path.

      There is more talk about tidal waves, tsunamis here. I have been here for 23 years and it is only in the past 10 years that tsunmais have been conjectured. Recently, it seems there are more fear-based scenarios in the media, and we can easily find attempts to control our growth and expansion, if we want to accept them. So the great mystery that awaits us is there for our enjoyment. I keep thinking about the fact that my dog is staring more at the atmosphere around me. She looks around me, above me and often through me. She sees a lot that I miss, and she is not scared. She is just looking with her sweet wide eyes open. To whatever it brings. Hang in there...


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