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Excerpted from Second Sight by Judith Orloff. Copyright 1996 by Judith Orloff, M.D. Excerpted by permission of Time Warner Books and Time Warner Bookmark.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"I dreamed voraciously, and relished waking up in the morning and retrieving my dreams."

Judith Orloff, Second Sight, Part 6

I continued my therapy with Jim. Yet despite the bond I felt I had with him, I didn't open up immediately. Nor did my initial timidity last: I was a hard case, fighting him at every turn, testing and probing to see how far I could go. For several months I missed appointments, challenged him, threatened never to come back again.

Then, one day, after being in therapy about a year, I told Jim about a troubling dream I'd had when I was nine years old. The dream was similar to a wakeful state, vivid, not at all like a regular dream. I'd never discussed it before with anyone except my parents. In fact, I'd purposely kept it a secret. Recalling it now as part of my therapy, I described it in my journal:

My nightgown is drenched in sweat as I bolt awake, knowing that my grandfather, who lives three thousand miles away, had just died. I can hear his voice saying good-bye to me over and over again as I struggle to get my bearings. It's the middle of the night. My bedroom is pitch black. I can't tell if I'm dreaming or if this is really happening. Almost too frightened to move, I drag myself from bed and run as fast as I can into my parents' room to give them this message.

Instead of being upset by my announcement, my mother smiles and assures me, "You were having a nightmare. Grandpop's fine." The absolute certainty in her voice makes me doubt myself. Of course Grandpop's all right. I've simply overreacted, I'm told. So I head back to my own room again, comforted by the notion that my panic was unfounded, and drift off to sleep.

A few hours later, my aunt calls from Philadelphia, to tell us that my grandfather has died of a heart attack.

As I recounted the dream to Jim, he listened intently without flinching or recoiling as I expected he would. Instead, showing genuine interest, he asked me to speak more about it. I first told him my mother's reaction to the dream, which had confused me. She'd been intrigued and quite tender, yet at the same time seemed to be holding something back, as if she was purposely trying not to make too much of it. Even after she learned of my grandfather's death, she seemed to write off my dream as coincidence. But something in her eyes said she didn't fully believe what she was telling me. And neither did I. I was certain my grandfather had come to say good-bye. The way he looked and the sound of his voice had been too alive, too real, to be mere imagination. Unable to resolve this puzzle, I'd wondered if somehow I was to blame for my grandfather's death.

Grandpop and I had always been close. Years before, he would hoist me up on his shoulders and promise that even after he died we'd never be apart. All I'd have to do was look up at the brightest star in the sky to find him. Our love ran deep, and it was unbearable that I might have hurt my grandfather.

My capacity to bring up these feelings was enhanced by a growing romantic relationship I was developing with Terry, an artist I eventually moved in with for two years. He lived across the street from the halfway house in an old two-story converted brick Laundromat with enormous clear glass pyramidal sky-lights in practically every room, including the bathroom. As the sun shone through them, the light was pristine. Terry also used the space as his studio. A few inches taller than I, twenty-five, Terry had a short, blond ponytail and piercing blue eyes. He habitually wore a pair of paint-splattered jeans that mimicked the colorful brush strokes of a Sam Francis canvas.

Terry was one of a four-member group of male muralists, who were futurists of a sort. They painted visionary disaster scenes such as earthquakes, snowstorms, and floods. Their murals so closely resembled some of my own premonitions that it seemed they'd been painting my inner life. The group called themselves the Los Angeles Fine Arts Squad and did their artwork on huge bare walls of commercial and residential buildings all over the city. A first of their kind, they were a central part of the Venice art scene.

Terry and I related to each other through the world of images and dreams. I used to speak a lot to him about the dreams that I'd written down for years. I dreamed voraciously, and relished waking up in the morning and retrieving my dreams. On the days when I couldn't hold on to them, I felt empty and vacant, as if I'd missed out on something important. When the images lingered, their richness filled me up like the finest food. They were sacred to me.

Terry and I used to take long walks at night in front of the deserted amusement park--Pacific Ocean Park--where he shared his artistic visions and I shared my dreams. With our faces eerily lit up by the blue mercury lights lining the boardwalk, Terry said that sometimes he could see the images shining right through me. He believed that my ability to generate them indirectly influenced the quality of his art.

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