“OH MY GOD! You live on a sailboat!? I am so jealous! You are living the dream!”
I think of my friends saying this to me when, like yesterday, it was pouring down rain and to get to the post office, I had to don my ill-fitting, red foul-weather jacket and hop into the dinghy. I pumped out the rainwater that had accumulated and then prayed as I pulled on the outboard engine, because in the past somehow rain got in the gas line or something and it didn’t start and I was totally stranded and felt pathetically helpless. Well, it started but that only meant that I had to sit my butt down on the wet seat and fight what are known as “Christmas winds” to get myself to the public dinghy dock, which was super-crowded and hard to find a spot to tie up.
Yes, sometimes “the dream” is a soggy-butted dinghy ride in the rain, ending in a scramble to secure the boat while an entire cruise ship-full of passengers watch and wait for you to fall in.
Is this really a dream? I know, I know … I snorkel and see sea turtles, wake up on the water and generally avoid the hustle-and-bustle of consumer life. I learn to take my time, enjoy experiences more than things and find gratitude in little things, like the simple displays of love that are the sweet cards some friends and family are sending me via general delivery here in St. Thomas. Life is filled with wonder and goodness.
Actual dreams can be amazing, although the other night I roller-skated into a swimming pool in my dream. Glad I wasn’t living that dream! So I guess because sometimes I fly in dreams, I should want to live my dreams? But only the good dreams, right? Because my friends, when they say I’m “livin’ the dream,” they’re not talking about the nightmarish elements of the often harsh challenges of boat life.
In yoga, dreams are represented within the symbol of OM, which is the universal sound of
our highest Self and a pathway to enlightenment. The main “3” shape is made of two curves: the larger bottom curve, or the jagrat, represents our waking state, and the top curve, or the sushupti, represents our deep, dreamless sleep. The little loop to the right is swapna, the dream state. (The top half-moon shape is the maya, or the entire manifestation of the world around us as we perceive it, and the top diamond is turiya, the ultimate bliss.) So, as the symbol teaches us, in our life it is easy to go around and around through waking and sleeping, basically getting caught in a maze, but really our task is to overcome all our illusions that present themselves as obstacles to rediscovering the divine within us.
So, dreams are a circular loop, a fantasy that life is limitless instead of it actually being so. The dream is not the end game. Bliss is the goal. Actual, honest-to-goodness limitless amazingness is what we should be living.
My waking life – a dream to so many – is filled with good and bad, stuff I am attracted to and stuff I am averse to. I have ample opportunity to show my less-than-divine self and think it’s “all about me,” especially in a 32-foot-long living space with another human. I am even sometimes
confronted by the potential of death, like when our sailboat is at such a steep heel that we must clip ourselves to jack lines on the boat to avoid falling into the sea. My work is simply overcoming all these attachments, about what I think is good or bad, or scary or proof that I am not amazingly blissful creature. (These obstacles are known as kleshas.) I do this work in my dreams, when I’m on my yoga mat and even when I am in the dinghy.
It’s easy to escape a lot of life’s annoyances, like traffic or mowing the grass. You can hop on a sailboat or simply take a weekend getaway somewhere. But it’s not so easy to escape yourself. When people say they want to live a dream, often they believe that escaping the current troubles will make for bliss. But until you overcome the obstacles in your head and your heart, life won’t feel dreamy. If you have road rage, chances are you’ll have dinghy rage. (Seen it!) Problems will persist in the maze of your waking and sleeping life as long as we choose them.
We make our own nightmares. Wake up – and live your bliss!