Sunday, July 15, 2018


I awoke in the middle of the night last night in the grips of an actual, physical panic--gasping for air and shaking all over. And realized I was waking from a dream in which I was about to be bitten by a shark.

I remember only fragments of the first part of the dream, having to do with oars and boat racing, in which I was either an expert (never!) or teaching others, people with whom I was familiar but do not remember who they were.

Then there were only myself and a woman--and the shark. We were somehow engaged in tempting the creature to reveal itself in a small, enclosed space--something like a friend's boathouse I remember from decades ago on Lake Windermere. The rather detailed plan was for me to brace myself near the roof and offer myself as a kind of beam on which she raise her body out of the shark's reach.

I was concerned that the twist in my body might make the planned move impractical and suggested that we should first practice it, to which she replied: "of course."

But then the woman completely disappeared from the dream, leaving me alone, braced near the roof of the boathouse, with the shark below. I had not counted on it being able to launch itself so far out of the water, and started to fear the worst as it came closer and closer with each effort. I could see the pink of the inside of its mouth and its rows of frighteningly sharp teeth...

Its final launch brought it to actually graze my bare thigh, and I knew that the next time it would actually close its teeth around the flesh.

Strangely, though it was clearly about to tear into my flesh, the shark seemed to harbor no aggression or animosity. The way it nudged me seemed, in fact, more affectionate, more like Jake, our King Charles spaniel; and the fact that it was about to bite into me felt more like it was simply fulfilling its natural function, doing what it was supposed to do rather kindly and without evil intention.

Even so, I was panicked at the prospect of its bite, and woke, as described, in a state of physical reaction to the intense fear. It took me quite a little while to calm down again.

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