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Garden of the Gods

Dreamed 1995/10/6 by Chris Wayan

I'm a prisoner, bound by invisible forces to this chair under the Colorado sun. I sit in a clearing by a dirt road, in a dry, flat short-grass valley, with bulbous redrock walls. They're lightly incised with line drawings of totemic animals--huge ones covering the rocks in narrative columns. Some are colored in. They look cartoony, slightly squared-off, like Mayan glyphs. The valley is called the Garden of the Gods.

The Garden is a sacred place, to many tribes. The Park Service ran it for years, until the Indians won it back. It's pretty, and buzzing with medicine, but I'd like it better if I could stand up now and then. But my invisible tether is so short. Tried for years to break it! No, decades. Wait--how old am I? I have no idea. I haven't eaten or slept or left this chair, not in sun or rain or snow, for a generation or more.

Digital sketch of a dream by Wayan: I sit for centuries in a wooden chair in the Garden of the Gods, Colorado.
Nor have I aged. What am I? Not fully human, not any more. I can't be.

And I can only pray I'll change the rest of the way. I'm so sick of being stuck in this chair, neither human nor... what I'm becoming.

Some white people come by and introduce themselves. I say "I'm Chris Wayan. I'm a Crow, with some Cheyenne..." and trail off, confused. I'm mostly Celtic, but part Cheyenne on my mother's side. Wait, which mother? I was adopted into the Crow as a kid and raised there. Yet culturally I'm Californian--I grew up there, and know zip about the Plains peoples. Wait, they raised me!

Until I spoke, I didn't realize: I remember two or three conflicting pasts. Mutually exclusive childhoods! What the hell is this? Am I three people fused?

The whites walked away hours ago. They looked insulted. Damn. Didn't mean to be rude. They mistook my confusion about who I was for reluctance to share! I can't share a self I don't know, who makes no sense.

I sit alone another day or two, thinking about it. Like I get a choice.

A while back, when I first stopped eating and planted myself in this chair, another part-Indian immortal was my teacher. He taught me what little I know of this slow metamorphosis. He too started life as a man, till something happened--his memories were hazy, not triple, but he was nearly as confused as I was, really. So over the decades, I grew to see him as an equal not a mentor.

Sit, sit, sit. A cloud goes over.

You know, I used to worship this Welsh goddess, Angharad Goldenhand. I had quite a crush on her. Her memories were clearer. She grew up as a farm girl in a little village and just... stopped aging. She outlived her time, became a witch, then a priestess, finally a goddess... and then dwindled again into a legend, a folktale footnote, and then... forgotten. But she's still there: a pilgrim through time.

She visited me a lot, years ago, when I was new to the chair. I felt shy around her. A real goddess! Now, as I grow into whatever it is I'm becoming, I've gotten used to gods. I just wish I could see her again. Maybe she'd want me as much as I wanted her. Who knows?

But I'm still stuck out here in the redrock, and Angharad's living in New Jersey these days.

Jersey. At least SHE has a roof! Stupid chair. Cold, hot, flattened butt.

Sit, sit, sit, sit. A hawk wheels. Watch the hawk a few hours.

A few decades back, I met a fourth one of us. He couldn't recall his childhood, but he vividly remembered Colonial times as a young man, so he must be well over two hundred now. Unlike me, he was never pinned to one spot--in fact, he's driven to wander. And to stay an outsider, wherever he goes. A portable cocoon, but still a prison. He's not done changing either. At two hundred!

Funny. Through some feedback loop of time, I may have caused him! Gone back and knocked him loose from mortality? Become him? I can't see how. But buried at the bottom of my mind is some secret linking us.

How many centuries till I know my own brain?

In recent decades I've had more and more to do with this hobo, until he's become a mentor too. My old halfbreed teacher had superhuman talents, but this ragged man is even stronger.

The only talents I've manifested so far are fasting and sitting. Whoopee.

Even my hobo teacher is a sad, lonely man. The back-hills Indians see his power, and accept him warily, but he's just white trash on most of the rez, and whites think he's crazy--why else would he wander homeless? And he's inclined to agree--he hates being a loner. But he has to. It's his chair. Mobile, but a chair.

Do I make it sound like becoming a god's not worth it? I sure haven't found it fun. But it's not like I was given a choice! Can a caterpillar refuse to spin its cocoon? Besides, this isn't the butterfly stage. What that is, I don't know--even our cocoons are unique, after all. So I can't know what I'll become. I just want out of the chair, free as Angharad.

To be normal? To be human again? Come on!

I'm far too deep in the change to want to go back. To being a... larva.

Digital sketch of a dream by Wayan: I sit for centuries in a wooden chair in the Garden of the Gods, Colorado.

LISTS AND LINKS: I'm Just Not Myself Today - Native Americans - shamans - gods and goddesses - zoos and arboretums - fruits and vegetables - home is where your, uh, roots are - patience and haste - metamorphosis - farmers - mentors and teachers - hermits - transcendent dreams - Colorado

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