Living in Paradise
Remember the dark shadow that used to chase you in your dreams, the one who shaped your nightmares. As a child, you cowered in its/his presence. He or it, or whatever it was who drained the energy out of you. Sometimes you flew to escape an inevitable fate.
In the small living room, you stood, trying to hold the door to stop him from breaking in. You recited the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Marys in the hope that would prevent him from coming in. That, you were lead to believe, was the way of fighting off evil. (If prayer and religion are not the solutions, then what is?*). However, this sometimes failed. His presence was so overpowering that he was able to overwhelm your prayers. You felt this evil entity was going to extinguish your light. You fled to hide under the bed where you assumed that he would not find you. Your grandmother was always there, yet you felt alone, her heart entombed in a graphene casket as he tried to steal your soul.
Under the starlights, you recited those Hail Mary’s. You silently asked what was she afraid of? You walked, two lonely figures and a touch light craving your way through the darkness. And, you used to wonder, holding your eyes to the skies, and somehow this took away your fears. In the presence of such marvel, how could one possibly fear the darkness? The words you recited, the Hail Mary’s, full of grace, protect us from all evil. Yet, she revelled in her tales of monsters and demons. She never did look up to the sky. She spoke of men who rode naked on cows and the demons they became upon their death. She recites the words to keep these demons at bay. However, this still did not stop him from chastening your dreams. You fled but ran through bog sediments of a black logoon. You felt him sitting on your chest, pinning you to the bed. You became paralysed. Nevertheless, you somehow escaped your fears.
The dreams always involved me approaching the path at the bottom of the hill that led up to the old house. In my mind, there was a premonition of an evil presence waiting to capture me. The presence focus was a tamarind tree to the right of the path. One day my grandmother caught me staring at the tree. She informed me that I should never go near or climb that tree. Strangely enough, my sister, years later, told me that she also felt the presence of something evil in that tree. She also had dreams of a force waiting to capture her or prevent her from reaching or leaving the house.
Then one day, running from the presence of evil, you found yourself at a cliff edge, and you feared that this was the end. Not having an option, you decided to throw yourself over the cliff’s edge. And, to your surprise, you found yourself flying. You felt elated, experiencing an intense sense of freedom. You wanted this feeling to be eternal. Alas, the morning sunlight rudely awoke you.
In your youth, you began to see that the trees were your friend — that they knew you, and you knew them. Seating against their barks, you fell into sweet lullaby dreams — inhaling the scent of the atmosphere that cleansed your mind. Gone were all confusions and disillusionment, but you, the boy, dreamt of faraway lands of people never seen and an absent father.
You tried to believe in the recited words. Still, you looked up at the sky and asked how God could have created such beauty and yet hold such dark thoughts of vengeance? So, you posed this question to one of his disciples. Her response was to inflict pain on you (the lashes of the whip to trash the evil out of you), she would not stop until you bleed: (her answer for you questioning the word of her God). At this moment, you broke the chain and was set free.
They will beat you into submission. To inflict pain on those he provided with a semblance of free will. They will have you ignorant and poison your mind with fear. They will blind you to the beauty of the sky. Forever your head will remain bowed. Alas, you will no longer dance to the rhythm of life, the seasons and the heavens. For you die on the promise of resurrection into his kingdom, his will be done. You went through the first and second rites of passage, the baptism and the first communion but missed the confirmation.
You Dreamt of Another Paradise
And one day, one of your dreams came true, and you left the trees behind.
Enter into the cold and grey. You found a garden full of artificial delights. Coming from the land where they harvest the crop, you tasted the refined chocolate for the first time. You could have all you could eat. However, this was a heaven that filled your stomach but left your soul unnourished.
In your heart, you cried in the presence of another so cold. And you once said that you would do anything to get to this place of promise and wonderment; this fable motherland. Upon your departure, you promised to be eternally loyal to the one you recited those prayers too.
There you stood in the cold room, and there was another who prayed every night, but he hated her who prayed with you as a child; they sang the same songs they recited the same, Hail Marys. Yet, they spoke of each other names as if spitting raw bonnet peppers from their flaming tongues. They walked head bowed, their souls entombed in hate and thoughts of vengeance. They who never spoke to the trees nor tasted the air. In this room so cold, with all colours drained from reality. All you could smell was the sour caustic odour of the burning remains of dead trees. Their souls…long, far gone.
Yet Again Dreaming of Another Paradise and Salvation
You dreamt of a love untold and went chasing it in the underworld. Roaming amongst the lost souls, you sought solace, for you believed that they thirsted just like you. However, you were to be confronted by another. You dance to the tribal dances to the music of Whitney and Madonna. The light you expected to be casted on reality was but a dream. Now you reside in the shadows. In this world, love is sold, and hearts grow cold — beauty is not what it seems. What is one to believe in? In the daylight, they run, for they fear that they might catch their reflections in the halls of illusions — this place where their heart seeks solace. Alas, the demons of your childhood still inhabit your dreams.
Seeking Yourself in Foreign Lands.
And you went to a land of flowers and were captivated by its beauty. In this land, freedom reigns, yet freedom is blind and takes liberty. For they only see with one eye, one vision, one mind and thousands of hearts beat. They speak liberation but only within the confines they define. They treat you as committing an act of treason if you question these beliefs. You are a heretic to their cause. The red tulips carpet the swamps of the lowlands. Yet, you forgot about the water lilies you used to pull from the swamp in the tropics and how easy they gave way plucked from the waterlogged soil. You now walk through the mud: with a rusting cast iron ball pinned to your heart. Yet again, another dream dissolves in the night. Alas, so is life. There is beauty in all.
*We are a product of natural evolution: the leap into the unknown. One could argue that natural evolution as a process has no preordained destination. Some could state that nature evolves to higher levels of intelligence and complexity. They could use the development of Homo sapiens to support their hypothesis. One could, however, say that the existence of humanity was not an inevitable process of evolution. In the context of nature, one could pose the question of how one defines intelligence?
Fear is the evil presence that haunts us in our dreams, our sub-conscious. Fear stops us from living: from realising our true potentials. The real evil is not to embrace and accept life and living for what they are. Religion, one can argue, presents us with a way of running away from reality.
The answer, I think, for us, to have the courage to jump off the cliff. It is there we will feel and experience the essence of living: the constant leap into the unknown. In my dreams, I believed that the cliff would lead to my demise. It was a choice between this or letting fear overcome me. The cliff is symbolic of courage — the courage to leap into the unknown, one that is fraught with risk but, alas, one which we ignore at our peril. The life we fear we will lose is the one we currently inhabit — the one we feel comfortable with, despite it presenting us with anxieties and uncertainties. I would argue that there is no ideal life, no nirvana of the mind. To live is to embrace imperfections. We are presented with challenges because that is inherent to our being. Without those challenges, we would cease to grow. Nature is Evolution: the meandering narrative that leads nowhere. The key, as some say, is to try and enjoy every moment of the journey.