Whiskered carp are churning in a too-small bowl – one light and girdled gold; the other charcoal-dark and unremarkable. Steam now rises from the vessel as if boiling – and I know, as dreamers do, that it’s not from the contrast of chill in the crisp blue surrounding air. Bamboo around the perimeter creaks, swaying in time to rubicund lips rhythmically breaking surface tension – mumbling, as it were, nothing I can understand.
A small-framed man, collar bones protruding from veined lily-flesh, strides purposefully forward, net in hand. He seines the dark fish with barely a struggle. The white carp remains, circling. Circling.
Existential angst expresses itself in sleeplessness. No particular reason and hundreds of them. The wind howls and the ocean rocks the tug and barge, listing on their sides in this dark early morning crossing. The sky invites me to ponder limitlessness while the earth beneath assures me I’m still present to the grace of this life. Yet I spend hours each day casting about in my mind for answers to imponderables.
The past is a portent cautioning repetition of folly; the future remains a mystery like a bright package that can never be opened with a child’s eager hands. The present itself is a gift which unfolds of its own accord moment to moment; the only means by which happiness can be discovered is in the acceptance of this truth. Still, something hums, snaps and pops in the background: six decades of mental conditioning scramble to survive the cull. Patiently I seek to unravel the spool with my breathing, losing track of the thread piling up around me as I lay awake trying not to disturb my sleeping husband.
I don’t worry much about the dark fish that’s been harvested. Some concepts in life must be sacrificed in order that others might flourish.
The mind fastens instead on the survivor, still swimming steadily – calmly even – in hot water. If these creatures represent aspects of me (it’s my dream, after all), who places them there, save myself? A crisis of consciousness, churning about as I pull the pins on my past. What once kept me propped upright no longer proves sustainable, and I collapse in surrender under the weight of that knowing. Theories and locution from other lips exhaust me, for as the playwright to my own life I recognize the futility of unperformed script. Still, it is a means to slide the keys, ever so furtively, under the door to the cell of a solitary confinement. Moving beyond subsistence thinking – that knee-jerk reaction when tiny blips in the radar flit across the screen of this brief temporal existence – proves expansive. Setting it firmly in place however, requires a kind of vigilance that spills any lingering daytime anxiety over into nocturnal reverie.
Still, the color of the remaining fish gives me hope.