The Aftermath of an Apocalyptic Dream

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I had a dream last night. It began as a movie preview for an apocalypse: the earth split and pulled back, and then, in equal and opposite reaction, came rushing back, oceans rushing over everything in tidal waves the likes of which Hollywood hasn’t yet imagined, the face of the earth rearranging to such an extent that our whole concept of geography shifted.Indianabecame west ofColorado,Californiacomprising the East Coast, that kind of thing.

“EAST…MEETS…WEST,” said the preview voice.

Being a dream, of course, it didn’t stop there. I was in the middle of it, observing in a detached, Godlike sort of way. First I just watched the waters rearrange the earth; then I began thinking about what it must be like to be the people caught in it, and immediately I began to see it. They were lucky, those who died in that apocalypse. Instantaneous, all over without time to experience pain or fear.

I half woke, long enough to remind myself there was no reason to keep thinking about it, and then slipped back into slumber, where I was trying to round up my family. We stopped by Julianna’s preschool and I went room to room, scavenging without conscience. What was I scavenging? Not what you’d think.  Not food and clothing. No, I was after Kleenex and ibuprofen. Tylenol I was really keen on, because of course, being pregnant, I can’t take ibuprofen. (Never did find that.) I went back to the car and we drove, and drove, and drove. My cell phone in my pocket, it transpired, was unlocked and I was inadvertently sending nonsense, wasting precious prepaid minutes.

I never did reach the fabled meeting point where I would reunite with my family. Fortunately, my alarm went off.

It was just a dream—nothing truly earth-shattering (I’ll never look at that term the same way again!). But I woke up thinking about the things I take for granted. There are the obvious things, like family and a home and sleeping in security, knowing the most precious parts of you lie safe in their beds. But there are so many things in my life that don’t even register on the gratitude scale: acetaminophen, facial tissue—tools we use and throw away without thinking. When a kid gets a runny nose in the third world, what do they do? The dichotomy between what we think is so important and what we find actually matters keeps smacking me in the face.

Today I head to our diocesan Teachers’ Institute, where I’m slotted to wax eloquent on Advent and liturgy for school kids, and to play piano forMass. Today I set myself this task: to be cognizant of the small luxuries that have become necessities without my ever noticing…and to be grateful for them. While I’m offline, won’t you look around and see what insignificant, extraneous things in your life you’ve ceased to notice enough to be grateful for?

3 thoughts on “The Aftermath of an Apocalyptic Dream

  1. evanscove

    Sounds like you were dreaming about the “2012” apocalypse that some people believe in! I don’t think I’ve ever had any end-of-the-world dreams like you had, though I’ve had some that centered on some kind of spiritual matters, including the demonic and/or God’s judgment. Anyway, I bet you were glad to wake up from that one!

    And I can relate to your second dream too. Why is it that when we dream of looking for something, we usually can’t find it (an object, a person, a place, an exit, etc.)? Or why do we dream of doing something we know is wasteful in some way or of being unable to do the things we know need to get done (e.g., I’ve had more dreams than I can count of being in, for instance, a class but always falling behind and never able to catch up with assignments or suddenly discover that much of the semester has slipped by and I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing)? Hmmmm… we need another Joseph or Daniel to come along and interpret our dreams! (I’d definitely trust them as opposed to someone like Freud!)

    But yes, there are so many little things we take for granted, but when they’re suddenly absent, we feel the loss all too strongly.

    By the way, congratulations on the new addition to your family!

    Evan

  2. Kathleen, I’ve often been struck lately by this very thing you wrote about. Today I walked in the house after starting up my water distiller on the porch and thought immediately about everything in our house running on electricity. I said to my husband, “Thank God for electricity. Life would be so difficult without it.” I never think about it when I turn the light on or flip a fan’s switch or turn on the TV or fire up the computer. But today it hit me between the eyes and I also thought about everyone in the world who lacks the conveniences electricity provides. Then I came here and read your absolutely-right-on post.

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