First Ring, chapter 1 of SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HERE AND PERFECT

The “articles” in this section are all chapters from my book SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HERE AND PERFECT, further findings of a fallible free spirit, published in 2016 and available from Amazon.com in trade or e-book format.  (Also to be found on Amazon.com is my novel, NO VICTOR IN DISGUISE, published in 2005.)

Chapter 1
First Ring

In the movie The Last Wave, Richard Chamberlain, as a white-culture Australian, finds himself having disturbingly strange dreams… or are they visitations, or prophecies? In one of the dreams, he is approached by a youthful, intense-looking aboriginal man, who hands him a stone, a triangular stone with rounded corners which fits into his palm and is engraved with three concentric circles. A few scenes later, he encounters the same young man in reality, near his home, and is handed the same stone he had been given in the dream, a flat, triangular stone engraved with three circles nested within one another. Meanwhile, an aboriginal elder stalks Chamberlain in the shape-shifter form of an owl, while visions of transformation by water foretell the coming of an immense tsunami that washes over the Australian coast.
It was 1987, and I was being introduced for the first time, by this dramatic film, to prophetic messages of change. The disquieting and intriguing imagery of the film, especially the symbols of stone and owl, triggered an awareness of some resonance, some untapped mystery, inside me. Wondering what was being shifted in my sense of reality, I took a walk the next day to ponder some still unformed but vaguely insistent questions. From my sister’s house outside of Boulder, Colorado, I ambled along a country road to the rim of a hill dotted with scraggly shrubs and tufts of dry grass. I descended the slope, my leather shoes crunching footprints into the parched, crusted soil, and headed through the heat to the only patch of shade beneath a lone stunted pine. I sat down on a few scattered pine needles and began to contemplate the impact of my first exposure to these mystifying suggestions of Dreamtime, an unfamiliar realm that seemed to permeate my suddenly loose-around-the-edges understanding of reality from somewhere just beyond my normal senses.
How can I learn more about Dreamtime? Can I find someone to guide me into it? Is there some way I can enter it on my own?
My questions were not framed in words. They were a vague but urgent musing, a longing. I didn’t really know what I was asking. Nor did I consciously notice that shortly after I sat down, my attention was being paged – alerted as if by some unspoken whisper — until I found myself turning to look over my left shoulder toward the base of the pine’s knobby trunk.
Half sunk into the gritty dirt lay a stone about the size of my hand. I picked it up and examined it, frowning curiously at its oddly familiar shape, a roughly rounded triangle. When I turned it over and brushed it off, my eyebrows shot up. Around the center was outlined, in a different color, a circle. A single circle.
The first ring of Dreamtime! I heard myself thinking. A prickling sensation zoomed up into the roots of my hair as I clutched the stone to my chest and wondered what was happening. I wanted to meditate immediately on this propitious find, this stone that was so similar to the one I had just seen in the movie, but a large fly started buzzing annoyingly around my ears. Shooing the fly away, I got up, brushed myself off, and, holding on to the stone, trudged back up the slope and retraced my steps along the country road. At the edge of my sister’s back yard, I ducked into a secluded spot within a small grove of sumacs.
With the stone in my lap, I closed my eyes, and I disappeared, or so it seemed, for even though I was vaguely aware of time having passed, I didn’t know where I’d been, or for how long. I knew only that I was suddenly very aware of looking for my body. Where’s my body?! Disoriented by the lapse in time, I darted frantically to where I’d found the stone, under the little pine tree. My body’s not here! In a flash that was not measurable in standard time, I raced up the slope and flew along the road toward the sumacs in the back yard. As I did so, I was both a single point of perception, like the eye of a camera speeding over the blurring ground, and a spherical awareness observing the entire scene from some height above it.
In a moment that was longer than it takes to tell it and also the merest fraction of a second, I jolted back into my body with a gasp. My eyes flew open. I took a deep breath and settled into myself in the mottled shade of the sumacs.
Whew. That was weird!
Still shaken by the unfamiliar sensation of having lost track of my body, I studied the strange stone in my lap, but I was distracted by a tiny movement in front of me, about a foot from my crossed legs. I peered at it. I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking at. A miniature owl? Two black-ringed, bright yellow eyes seemed to be staring at me from atop a soft brown body, but it was only three inches tall. The movement stirred again within the shadows of the sumacs. Finally I made sense of it. It was the slow partial opening of a pair of wings. Butterfly wings. It was a butterfly, unlike any I had ever seen before, sitting before me, catching my eye with a slight movement and then holding perfectly still so I could see the owl-like features outlined on its folded wings.
Resting my hands on the circle-marked stone, I gazed, breathlessly silent, at what I was quite sure was not a shape-shifter, at what I sensed with tingling certainty was an ineffable, invisible something communicating with me by using the most vividly meaningful images immediately available — a Presence responding to my longing and inviting me to notice that I had indeed just entered the first ring of Dreamtime.
Although I didn’t remember anything of where I’d been during what turned out to be about half an hour, I knew I’d been somewhere. If that fly hadn’t chased me from where I’d found the stone, I probably wouldn’t have found myself traveling that extra distance intensely aware of looking for my body. I would have simply opened my eyes thinking I’d blanked out for a moment. I wouldn’t have thought to check the time, wondering how long I’d been gone. I wouldn’t have seen the owl-butterfly in addition to the stone, a double confirmation of a Dreamtime conversation in symbols.
Even the fly had been part of the answer to my longing.
Which puts a whole new perspective on a lot of annoying interruptions and distractions!
Having been answered on the first ring, I continued to call. Who was doing the calling and who was being called? Yes. That, too, wanted a whole new perspective.
It wasn’t until after many more such experiences, during which I was determined to stay with the part of myself that left, that I began to regard my return to my body as being similar to squeezing myself into a diving suit with a one-eyed mask.
While I’m in this wetsuit, I have to crane my neck to see what’s all around me. I barely have peripheral vision, let alone my natural spherical perception that views from all angles, all distances, and all time frequencies at once. I can’t directly feel the flow of the oceanic reality of pure energy through which I’m swimming, let alone taste the subtle currents with my natural body, hear the ethereal shapes of other beings around me, or see the field of light from which everything is formed. In order to participate in this denser reality, I need to maintain this suit and figure out how to readjust the gauges whose original settings reflect a lot of limitations that I’m outgrowing.
It was a relief to be reminded that I don’t have to confine my awareness to what I can perceive from inside this suit. I’m looking forward to the day that I can just breathe underwater. Forget the bulky backpack and the zipless rubber! If that last wave is going to rip me right out of my wetsuit of limited and limiting experience, rip me, tsunami, I’m ready!
Nah. Easy to be flippant, but put me back in my body, stretched out on a summer lawn, watching the Milky Way float by below me to the tune of Strauss’s Blue Danube, and I’m grateful that the Earth can hold me to her surface as she does. Whether it’s called gravity or the curvature of space, when I’m letting go of sky-equals-up because I can remember when I saw the planet from afar and I know that sky-equals-down is just as true, I call it attachment. The Earth must be attached to me, after all, and maybe even need me, the way she keeps my body from falling outward into space. I can appreciate her attachment. I wouldn’t care to have too many of my cells flying off in all directions as if they weren’t part of why I exist in this reality. So, whether or not she needs to shrug until tsunamis roar, I’m enjoying what time we do have together.
We’ve meanwhile exchanged more than one ring.

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