Monday, February 26, 2018


It seems The Buddha Diaries is turning into a dream journal... Although this one seems to me to have wider implications. (See following note.)


I am taking an early morning walk with Jake, our King Charles spaniel. I'm approaching the Shakespeare Bridge, a couple of blocks from our home, when I spot a small group of houses up above the road and climb up the steps that lead to them. One of them is a small, clapboard cottage. For reasons unknown, I decide to trespass and find the door open.

Inside, what looks like a single-room living space, with an untidy, unmade bed with blue sheets, not unlike those on our grandson, Luka's bed in our home.  I lie down, and fall suddenly into a deep sleep. I have no idea how long I might have slept, but I awake in considerable surprise. I realize I am in someone else's house and need to leave before they find me, but I have a hard time cornering Jake and getting him back on leash. He's full of beans, ready for one of his playful games of catch-me-if-you-can.

I eventually manage to leash him and leave the cottage, but encounter a young man on the steps who gives me a strange look, realizing that I have just left his house. I decide to tell him the truth and walk back into the house with hm. He seems undismayed, if a little puzzled by my behavior. His girlfriend arrives, an attractive young woman who is less disposed to be tolerant than he. I think she might be French, but no, she tells me she is Spanish. She wears a rather severe but nicely-fitting pin-stripe suit. Then Sarah, our daughter, is there, with Luka. I don't remember them arriving, but there they are.

It's time to leave. Sarah and Luka go ahead, but I realize suddenly that it's now eleven o'clock and Ellie will surely be worrying about my prolonged absence. I ask if I can make a call, and the girlfriend reluctantly allows me to use her cell phone. I don't remember if the call went through, or if I left a message, but anyway, it's quite a while before I leave.

Crossing the Shakespeare Bridge I break into a run, thinking to catch up with Sarah and Luka--though by now they must be way ahead of me. I am surprised at the way I find my stride with ease, even though I am wearing only white sports socks and sandals, and head uphill towards our house. Soon, though, I find myself in unfamiliar territory, heading up a long, steep, narrowing slope into a series of terraces and balustrades.

It has begun to rain, and starts to rain harder. The rainwater runs down the terraced steps in torrents now, flooding over my ankles as I run. When I reach the top, I find myself looking down over a kind of wide bay and a mudflat, with the city on the hill far beyond. Somehow I think it would be the shorter way to get home to cross the mudflat and I head downhill. Soon I'm sloshing ankle deep through soft, watery mud, which gets all over me. I even feel it covering my cheeks. I wonder what Ellie will say when I get home.

What I thought would be short cut has turned out to be a mistake. I head on towards the city and find myself at the front gate of what appears to be an upscale condominium complex. The gate is locked, but I beg a young man, standing close by and chattering with friends, to let me through, thinking that this will lead me closer to our house. He shrugs and stands aside to let me through.

Still running--though apparently not particularly tired, I arrive at the big front door of a building that I think, again, might be another short cut. On entering, I seem at first to be in a luxurious and spacious private home. As I move on, however, I seem to be in a rather shabby hotel of faded luxury--the rooms seem more and more like public spaces as I progress. And the further I go, the more I think I have made a mistake in entering in the first place: this seems to be a no-exit situation.

The last room I come to is a huge ballroom, which obviously doubles as a dining room. There are circular tables set aside--I note, particularly for some reason, four of them, with gleaming white table cloths but no place settings--pushed over to one side, along with heaps of dining chairs. Attracted by sounds from a small, adjacent room that turns out to be a pantry of some kind, I come upon an old servant struggling to button up his brightly colored livery. He is gaunt, ungainly in his movements, and his scrawny mien makes me think of Don Quixote.

I ask him, "Please show me the way out of here," and he responds, "Oui, monsieur," but continues to struggle with his costume. I am surprised not to feel more urgency as I repeat, "Please help me find the way out to the street." And my Don Quixote repeats, "Oui, oui, monsieur. Un moment." But he never gets around to showing me the way out.


As I reconstruct it, the dream is clearly about growing old. In the early part of the dream I am "trespassing" on the young--not only the young man who owns the cottage and his girlfriend, but even on my grandson, whose unmade bed and blue sheets I see often in our house. The path from there is into "unknown territory," steep and terraced--perhaps by the decades. The rising water--usually, as I understand it, a symbol of the unconscious mind--is both perilous and demanding of attention. Later, the mud suggests both intellectual and emotional confusion. As for the increasingly shabby hotel, this surely represents the halls of old age itself (though I wonder about those four tables that stood out so prominently as images); and my Don Quixote? The wise old fool, still idealistic despite the ravages of the real world, struggling to cover up his essential nakedness--and perfectly unable to help unravel the mystery.

There are many more details that seem worth exploring: the condo complex, with its locked gates; the role of Jake, the dog; the downhill view to the mudflats and the bay; what about the "Shakespeare Bridge"? And so on. A complex, visually detailed dream that warrants further exploration...

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