Dreamed 1993/11/4 by Chris Wayan
I'm sitting in the laundromat, reading "The Game Of Life" by Florence Shinn. She claims there are no skeptics, only different faiths: you either trust God or good or nature, or you doubt and fear, which is still faith--faith in bad or random outcomes! Doubt itself is a cult, a cluster of cults! This rings true: my dreary old certainty that I'm ugly and unlovable suddenly looks like faith in what my abusers told me, no more. As unbased as any faith.
Following the book's little exorcism of false beliefs, I say aloud in the empty laundromat (fortunate, for I trust people will hit me if I speak up in their hearing): "I smash all false beliefs held in my unconscious, especially the lies I was told about my sexuality." I blush, then feel a rush of excitement and power.
Okay, replace it with something positive! I affirm the future I want: "I have a girlfriend." This too feels like lifting a heavy weight--work!--but I keep thinking and murmuring it. Hard but possible now. Exercising a long-unused muscle--my will.
The only other voice in the place is a TV, preaching to no one in particular. On it, a woman is telling the white-haired talkshow host her story: learning she was adopted, she sought her birth mother, who told her she hadn't abandoned her, but was forced to give her up: she had been raped by her father, her baby was her sister, and no one in the family believed her. Suddenly I see this story being projected into millions of laundromats and hair salons and dentist's offices and see this is where America's politics are, these are the stories everyone hears in the background, this sets the tone and defines the issues. Not the politicians.
At home I lie down and affirm some more. Bike over to dance class, but our teacher Luana is still back East. Her mom is ill? Jeannie is here, willing to substitute, but no other students have showed up? Jeannie says other teachers are mad at Luana for her limited commitment to City College. She has been missing a lot lately. Jeannie's getting a divorce, after 15 years... talks to me about it for an hour. She seems to need to. I listen, but feel strange... I've never even had a non-abusive relationship, never had what she's taken for granted all those years and now sees as unworkable. Get a stomach ache as I feel the extent of my deprivation. The cramps fade as I bike away....
At home I read Emma Bull's "War for the Oaks" about urban elves and nature-spirits fighting for the soul of a city. Forgotten how good a writer she is. Strong characters... the band scenes get me to pull out my keyboard and play. I work out REM's "Begin the Begin," just from memory. Figure it out, to my astonishment--that's a terribly complex song. Then I try to get 4 beats against 3 as a comfortable drumming rhythm and for the first time get a FEEL for it rather than counting it out. Can feel it sustain, become natural like the 3 against 2 has become.
As always, playing piano alone makes me sleepy. Bed early. I wonder how these affirmations will affect me? Trust... faith in...
1: THE TWO-TIERED SOCIETY
I'm living in a California suburb like Palo Alto, a flat grid of shady streets under big old trees--but looming over it, like random mesas, are stone columns 100 ft high and 30 ft wide, each with a house or two on top, cantilevered out on cement slabs. Wire fences at the edges, but they still look like scary precarious places to live. An arrogant magical aristocracy of wizards or powerful elf-lords lives in these crag-houses--banal suburban homes, same as all the rest, just raised arbitrarily above us.
And this feels wrong.
2: THE LEFT-TURN GUNMAN
This land of columns, this two-tier society, hides a quiet war, fought with magic and assassinations, so secret that most of the suburbanites don't even know.
I'm driving on ground level; an elevated freeway looms nearby. I'm trying to turn left onto Alma Street. The traffic's so heavy I have to wait through several cycles of the stoplights down the road. Still no safe opportunity. I feel a desperate urge to turn into traffic because I'm in danger staying still too: across the road, standing on the gravel, is a mean looking man with a gun. Trying to get a clear shot between the other cars roaring by? Not sure it's me he's after, but I'm sure he's out to kill. Another assassination!
3: MAGIC NOTES
I tell people I'm going out alone to search for the Lost Boy in the Woods, with a large pack of hounds. I must go alone because I have to focus entirely on the dogs and wander freely with them, for days perhaps. It's the only way.
But all this is a lie. I'm not going to the woods. It's just an elaborate excuse to be alone so I can explore the hidden empty back rooms of this house, looking for... something important to the secret war going on. Inside a white cubicle, a meditation room or a huge showerstall, I decide it's private enough to report.
I get out the glass bowl and half-fill it with water. Striking it gently with my fingertips in different places, different gong-tones bell out, filling the little room. And somewhere far away, I know, another identical monk's bowl is ringing in sympathetic vibration. The channel is open between me and the Allies. But how do I communicate? It's so beautiful sounding, but how do you send ideas? I've FORGOTTEN!
By instinct, I put my hands into the water and slowly begin to type words. My fingertips strike the bowl in different spots, and I realize that these different notes could be matched at the other end by a typist. I spell words slowly, repeating each letter a couple of times... awkwardly. I'm not used to this.
4: MS. TRUST
A girl in a medieval dress steps into the room. She's beautiful, unearthly, with wide-set eyes and an aura of great strength and fire that lures me. But she's dangerous. She's one of the aristocracy, the elves and mages, and like me, she's a secret agent. I think we're both double agents, scouting here in the evil and banality of America, each of us with a secret connection to the good. But she fails to recognize my glass bowl! Her own transmitter is quite another magic. She assumes my secrecy means I am evil!
She's been alone among people she's unwilling to trust, and rightly, because they're unworthy of trust, liars who lie to themselves, and she's been terribly crippled by it, without even knowing, I think. Paranoid!
I tell Ms. Trust the truth, but she's sure I'm an enemy, believes nothing I say. No trust at all, of anyone. And so, thinking the secret rooms have been revealed to an enemy, Ms. Trust wants to kill me--and we fight.
Her magic is terrible--I must get close, so she dares not blast or transform me. I get Ms. Trust by the throat and hold her tight, choking her just enough so she can't speak any spells. She struggles, and I nearly strangle her, but force myself not to in my anger and panic. I beg her to accept a truce, beg her to listen to me. She is certain I'm an enemy. No trust at all. But I can't bear to kill her. I let her go, in grief, knowing it'll cost me...
And it does. Ms. Trust transforms me into an ant. In an anthill that's a prison camp. The Ant Gulag!
5: AMONG THE ANTS
Inside it, we ants look like people to each other: antness isn't a matter of shape, antness is subordination to social rules and to your social superiors. Customs and even manners have the force of natural law to an ant.
I meet another ant who's a former agent. Don't know which side, but he's a decent guy; still able to trust. We become friends, and we decide to plan a break-out. But how? Ants rarely even visit other hills... only for football games. I hate football, its roughness and ideology. But it's the only feasable path.
We sign up for the team.
The training is hell. Yet... we become good players. Even great ones. For we're motivated by more than prestige or pay. We want our freedom. And to get it we have to win this stupid game.
Our team, fired up by the two of us, makes it into the regional playoffs between West Coast anthills, and we win there too. On to the ant-league championship: the Sugar Bowl! Even humans come to that one. And that's perfect for us. We can hide in the crowd, leave with the humans...
6: THE FOOTBALL SPY
So now we're at the stadium before the big game, and I'm hanging up play-diagrams or something, in a small wood booth, when I spot yet another ringer, a human POSING as an football-playing ant, trying to ENTER the hive? Weird!
And it happens again. This guy's schemes have nothing to do with us, but he when he sees what we're up to, planning to defect back to humanity, he mistrusts us, figures that's just a cover and we're really agents after him. And he blocks us. It's a standoff. He threatens to blow the whistle on us, but fears we could expose him. I say "We'll leave you alone, if you'll leave us alone," but he won't believe us.
Just like the elf-girl, his firm trust in our evil keeps ALL of us from getting what we want!
I'm starting to understand. Mistrust is NOT lack of trust. Untrust, no trust, is at least open to evidence or reason. MIStrust is the misuse of trust: trusting that things are amiss! It's the faith I was raised in, and I have to give it up. For it brings me just what it promises. It's trapped me in deadly traffic, in spying, in choking someone I liked, in anthills, in football and brinksmanship and standoff: dead-end games.
So... what does that suggest about trust?
NOTES NEXT MORNING
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