The Taoist Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly. Upon awakening, he was certain that he was a butterfly dreaming that he was Chuang Tzu.
Like Chang Tzu, I often dream I am something wonderful and wake up being something else. In my dream, my identity is clear and the transformation is so complete that when I awake to another reality, I believe it is only a dream. I long to return to a place where there is neither ignorance nor uncertainty. Maybe it is a representation of my inner self.
Or, maybe it is just a wish.
Sometimes these two worlds collide and intertwine. The magical butterfly enters my Susan Mountain Dream and infuses me with a sense of freedom. Butterflies are not chained to their short-lived insect bodies. The memory of their delicate beauty, and the joy they bring, exquisitely illustrate the continuing cycle of transformation.
Years ago in my Dawn Lord Dream...
I taught young children how to read in a private school located at the base of the Rockies in Colorado. One day, the children surprised the teachers with a play. The other teachers and I entered an un-stagelike, normal room. There were no props and no costumes. We waited for a moment and the performance began. Three of the boys, dressed in jeans and striped T-shirts, inched along on their bellies across the floor, making their way slowly across the room to three tan colored sleeping bags, and then crawled inside.
The cocoon-like bags remained still for what seemed eons as we waited in anticipation. To our amazement, a girl head poked out of each one, followed by an arm, and then finally a whole girl body wearing a dress. The three little girls started moving around the room, at first slowly, gently flapping their arms in an unusually graceful manner for such young children. The dance became increasingly wilder, and at its peak the boys jumped out of their cocoons and joined the girls for a grand finale. At the end, they all collapsed on the floor and remained still. The play was over.
Their transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis, then from butterfly to death, was complete. I almost cried as I applauded their production, and have never forgotten it. That day the teachers learned that children have the innate ability to understand metamorphosis.
More recently in a Susie Mountain Dream...
I was climbing the Great Wall in China. It was a hot spring day, and after hours of climbing I stopped to rest at a bend in the wall. I asked a young girl to take my photo for proof that I really was in China and not dreaming. Sitting on the edge of the wall with my smile, I waited as she carefully focused my clunky 35mm camera. From out of nowhere, a Monarch butterfly landed on the open palm of my still hand.
Bystanders started pointing and murmuring in Chinese at this phenomenon. I watched transfixed as the butterfly's wings fluttered, and felt the tickling movement of tiny legs on my inner hand travel up my arm and touch my heart. Motionless, I stared in disbelief as the butterfly flew away, became a tiny speck, and then disappeared completely.
"When I say you are dreaming, so am I." *
* Chuang Tzu