A Beam of Flight
"Life's purpose is to shine a light of awareness through the dark of mere being."--Jung
"Who you calling mere?"--Being
Dreamed 1992/4/19 by Chris Wayan.
I dreamed I was Luana Silverberg-Willis. Dancer, choreographer, political and spiritual mentor. My dance teacher at San Francisco City College, and contributor to the first Gay Studies curriculum in America. Black lesbian fighting an endless hierarchy of straight white males... and dancing on injuries, doing too much, role-modeling right up to the hospital door.
Call me Luana.
I'm on the Spanish-tiled roof of a tower at Stanford, near the Hoover Institute. You know, where the Reaganites planned their decade of looting...
I'm on the roof because I'm on the run. King Kong on Hoover Tower. Ever noticed King Kong was black? They're below, with searchlights copcars firetrucks, surrounding the tower, to cage me again, in their neoconservative chains.
I gotta be my own Fay Wray.
They want to trap me and use my talents for their ends. What talent? Well, I have this weapon. An adjustable flashlight: wide or narrow beam. Wherever I focus my light into the night air, I can fly, pulled by my own beam, my own field of vision. The power of pure attention. I'm slow though; I just drift toward the light at a gentle walk... 100 feet up!
Being slow is a limitation: my batteries fade after 20 minutes or less of all-out use. They recharge as they rest, just as muscles do. But I must pace my flights, limit them to a mile or so. I can't just soar away from the mob of yuppies below. The pack'll see and follow.
So I hop from roof to roof, across dim abysses seething with cops, like looking down into chasms of hell. I keep my light off on the roofs, pick my way blind across the corrugated Spanish tiles. Shine it carefully upwards, never let a gleam hit a building or the ground: don't help them down there. I shine my light, but not for them; aim into air and darkness.
And by aiming high, I stay black from below. I match the skin of the sky. Invisible is safe. They have searchlights and they sweep for me. As their monstrous glares swing by, I aim higher, rise... at least I'll look smaller when they catch me. Do they have snipers?
At last I'm pinned like a moth, midair. But I'm so high now, so small, and my darkness helps. They lose me again on the next roof. I can feel my light has faded a bit. I can't just fly off campus, it's too far. I may outrun the searchlights briefly, but I'll get so tired and dim I'll sink closer to the ground, get treed somewhere in the Stanford Arboretum, or even sink to their level. And some of them may able to fly--a little! My best course is to keep up the zigzag game, the roof game--short flights and rests keep me alive to recharge.
Smarter than one grand suicidal soar.
Things have changed. I still fly, but I've changed my style.
I have wings. Not exactly bird wings, though they look like them. In the day, no one's ever seen or felt them. Not even me. Only in darkness do they unfold. Nightwings. I have nightwings.
Sun's up. The sky's typical San Francisco: a warm blue east, a white fog west. My wings should fold away. But here I am, flying in daylight across the campus, weaving through the eucalyptus trees for cover. I hear they're going to cut them down. Other flyers slide through the great trees. Half are my friends. Half are hunters. One huge hawk for each of us. One for me.
He shrieks after me, and I whip through the floating leaf-drapes, corkscrewing sideways to squeeze through gaps between curved eucalyptus leaves hanging like sabers. And as sharp as swords, at our speed. They sting as I twist and wince, dive and roll. I almost see our paths scrawled behind us on the air, like squiggly grooves in a real old jazz record, like dance steps around the solemn, bowing trees. Our paths tangle like noodles, separate, and meet again. A running stitch across the sky.
We're trying to organize other mythical creatures, get them to come out of their ancient hiding and fight for their rights. Some have been.
I reach my friends, and touch down safe at last.
I'm just in time to meet with a group fresh from the front.
They're shell-shocked elves. Not your standard Aryan fairies: it's a varied group of smallish Rip Van Winkle sorts. Some satyrs, some Elmer Fudds. Ragged clothes: these are frontier pixies, tough as old tree roots. But they've been through hell. Screaming nightmares, panic attacks.
I do my best--dreading the war, torn myself between feeling it's unfair to ask more of us battered souls, and equally unfair to toss green recruits into a nightmare without someone to tell them how to survive.
The front was so bad I have amnesia myself. I was so scared I threw my memories in a closet. I don't like asking others to remember, let alone go back there physically, back to the front. Yet I'm beginning to remember, slowly, distantly, as if I read a vivid memoir of the war by a brilliant writer. But that vividness is partly what caused my amnesia. The emotions of love and fear--for myself, for my lover--were too intense for my wingless day-self to tolerate. Until now. Now I've come out; my wings can bear the pressure of daylight.
What's changed? Why can I stand to face such pain, now? It's not that the memories have lessened or the fight has gotten safer. Strangely enough, it's an intellectual thing. A realization:
I realize that the fear I feel for my lover's life, for these shell-shocked elves' lives, PROVES to me I can love, I do love--and this is worth the fear. Fear means I love. Every time I feel afraid, I know they lied when they taught me my love's not real, not good.
Each time they make you fear for yourself and those you love, they only prove that you love.
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