“If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.” Hazel Henderson
Standing beside a dark swamp as the sun was descending, the air was cool, and in the distance, I saw a small, one story, ranch house on the other side. Its outline was barely visible, but its indoor lights gazed back at me and I yearned for the safety I felt I might find inside its warm, yet unknown, interior.
Feeling alone, frightened and frankly, scared to pieces, with no place to spend the long night ahead, I watched the darkness descend and stared at the grey trees growing out of the swamp. Each was missing its leafy top and all were standing like oversized toothpicks mired in the murky waters. Amidst the unnerving quietness, I heard a loud ripple and realized a creature was swimming rapidly across the waters straight towards me.
I was terrified as I watched the alligator barreling at me. Even as I tried to run, I found that my feet had become like heavy stone statues, immobile at the water’s side. No sound emerged as I tried desperately to scream.
Then it was at my feet.
I tried to make sense of it as I stared. Relief washing over me, I realized it was not an alligator. It was a manatee! In my dream, as he watched me, he jumped from the water and rolled and played and sent love across the space between us. My horrible fear had emerged into one of nature’s most lovable creatures!
When I had this dream twelve years ago, I was in the midst of thirty months of the most trying and stressful time of my life – divorce, illness, job woes and a very threatened financial situation, all at once. Finally understanding finally that security and safety were illusions that I had created in my own mind, I learned I would have to find a way to survive.
To do that, I had to embrace, as the Sufis coined, my Divine Inheritance – the gift (in my case) of unwelcomed pain that helped me to become stronger, more compassionate, more accepting, more loving and even a tiny bit more enlightened about life.
I was forced to step up to the plate like the Cowardly Lion who became courageous when Dorothy’s life hung in the balance.
All these years later, I am grateful for that experience. Even when I felt I would never find joy and happiness again, I was swiftly moving toward some of the best years of my life.
Change is always happening because that is what life is. These days I celebrate the good times with more gusto and I try harder to squash fear during the tough times. As Ms. Henderson said, we simply do not know enough about our future to be pessimistic.