Trial by Ice and the Loss of Freedom

I am happy here. I am happy anywhere, but this new home, here, in particular makes me happy. If you’ve read the previous post you already know about the two amazing jobs, excellent coworkers, wonderful roommates and breath-taking scenery. I’ve been waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. And it finally kinda did. But it didn’t really drop. It floated down like a fat snow flake and landed on the side, where it wouldn’t be in the way quite yet.

snow flake

It all started in my dreams. By day, I’m happy as a clam, but at night, I have been finding myself in the grip of woes. My dreams these days are all lucid to some extent. Some are so vivid that I might question which world I’m exploring, the dreaming or waking world, but I still am aware at some level that I am dreaming. For the first week I was here, I had difficulties falling asleep. I laid in bed for hours it seems, grateful and happy to be here, but not sleepy at all. Once I did fall asleep, either my truck or I would get stuck or hurt. The truck and I are the same entity in my dream – you’d be confused about the distinction too if you had lived with yours 24/7 for the past year and a half.

Over the course of the first week, the dreams escalated. First, we were stuck in snow, then we were entombed in ice, then we drove down some narrow scary road along an unprotected several-thousand feet cliff and had to make a U-turn. In this one in particular, I remember thinking “Oh man, I really hope this is a dream, because if it’s not, this really really sucks”. But, dream or not, I knew I had to turn around, so despite the fear gripping at my belly, I engaged the 4×4 and spoke to my truck as I do in the waking world, and slowly and carefully, we managed to turn around and drive out. That same morning, as I set to drive to work, I discovered that our driveway looked like an angled ice skating rink. I felt exactly as I had in the dream. I walked the path I was about to drive to estimate the scope of the adventure at hand, and found it as slippery as I feared it was. I took a deep breath and remembered that this reality is nothing but a dream too, and that we create it. I don’t fully understand the mechanism by which we create reality, but I know that if I fear getting myself or the truck hurt, I am more likely to create that than if I adopt an attitude of cautious trust. I sat in my warmed up truck and took a minute to calm my crazy beating heart with more deep breaths. I was scared. I don’t get scared very often, so it struck me as interesting. In the midst of being scared, I enjoyed being scared, and noticed that I was enjoying it, and that made me happy. Mostly, I felt very alive. I engaged the 4×4 and told my truck that I love it, and thanked it for all the care it takes of me. I do this every morning, regardless of the road conditions, but I really meant it that day. We rolled out without sliding even once all the way to work. Oh, that felt great! Alive in all senses of the term.

Dream world

But the next night didn’t go so well. In the dream world, I was driving out of work on freshly fallen snow. The road was slick, but we were driving it fine. It was cold outside, but the heater in the truck was on, and I felt warm, cozy and protected. Next, I was walking on the road, in traffic. As I said, this wasn’t strange, because the truck and I are interchangeable in my dreams. Suddenly, WHACK! With a big pain in my back, I was thrust forward onto the car in front of me. I had the classic slow-motion moment of realization that I had just gotten hit. I had been rear-ended by a large green Bronco. I felt the pain of the impact in my dream, sharp and deep. This was a full sensory dream. I was cold, hurt, and worried about being broken. I went back to dark. In the next dream, I was surrounded by a group of friends, my roommates, Ana, others. I was recounting the incident of how I was hit by a car in a dream and how I could still feel the pain from it as a physical sensation even though I was now in a new dream. I received nothing but mild interest to that story. Nobody felt sorry for me. Ana got up, danced and sang. The dance was beautiful, the song’s lyrics recounted my epic encounter with the Bronco. I went back to dark. I woke up in pain. Three days later I still was in pain – a dull soreness in my back, right where I got hit.

The fourth day after the dream was the last day of the year. It was snowing and I had to drive an hour to Bethlehem to help teach a special yoga class – 108 sun salutations in a row to bring in the new year. I was nervous, but nothing happened. The truck took care of me, there and back. The sun salutations fixed the pain in my back.

Since the truck was taking care of the driving, I let my mind explore all these strange dreams on my way to Bethlehem. Why, in my current state of ecstatic flow ,was I getting scared and beat up in my dreams? The truck was being stuck and hurt. What does the truck represent? Freedom. Ah, so, lack of freedom. Loss of freedom. Riiight. Suddenly, it was so obvious that it seemed strange that I hadn’t seen it before. I wake up in the morning and I go to work, then sometimes I go grocery shopping, or I stop by my mailbox, then I go home, cook dinner and sleep and do it again. I am no longer at the mercy of my fanciful whims, I am at the mercy of Rob, the man who makes the store schedule. But, am I? I mean, nobody is making me work. I could quit. I assumed I was there because I wanted to be there. And it is true that I want to be there. I love my job. But still, we have free will, so I could quit. But then, I’d be back to having $21 in my pocket and a maxed out credit card, so I couldn’t really put fuel in my truck to go somewhere else, and if I’m stuck here, trust me, I want to be able to afford a place with heat and warm food in my belly.


Okay, so I cleverly created a reality where I no longer have a choice about my daily actions. I don’t  believe in accidents, so I must have had a reason for choosing to make myself stuck. I pondered this for a while, and found no immediate clear resolution besides the physical world’s obvious reasons – like needing to get out of debt, wanting to experience rest from roaming, and having a steady place in which to finish my book. The next day, thinking about freedom further, I remembered that freedom is a state of mind. So, there is no physical reality constraint that, in theory, could make me feel less than optimally free. There are no outside limiting factors. Thinking further, I remembered that sometimes, in my free-form roaming journey, I felt less free than I do now. And, I have in the past put myself in situations (I’m thinking of one relationship in particular) where I abdicated all freedom of choice, and sometimes of movement, yet felt completely in compliance with my need for absolute freedom.

So it’s actually not about freedom at all for me. It’s about scope and size of life. It’s about epicness. I can be trapped doing something epic and still feel free, or I can be free to be mundane and feel trapped. So, it would make sense, given my physical need to pay off a credit card and finish my book that I would chose to trap myself here. If I weren’t trapped, I might have unconsciously driven back south looking for warmth and safer driving conditions, and I would have never known about all the epic goodness I would be missing. Every day right now is a brand new experience for me- it’s like living in Yemen, you just never know what will happen, you just know something will happen. Since my arrival, there was the ice day, there was the ice with snow on top – even slicker – day, there was the big snow day, the day when it was -16, today the high is 0 F. I still do and I still go, and nothing is ever mindless, because I am making it up as I go. And I’m loving it. I stopped at the gas station today to see about getting some de-icer for my windshield wiper fluid, and left with a warm bread right out of the oven. Small daily miracles. Small daily epics.

Is it epic enough? No, not really. It’s never epic enough. I am plagued with inspirations of greatness. Just yesterday, I was complaining to my friend Ana that nothing story-worthy is happening. She replied that I had just told her five stories. I’ve been here for almost two weeks. I have not gone ice climbing once yet. But then, it’s been the holidays and we have been inundated with tourists at work. It was good and challenging, and I’ll be able to pay rent this month. Things should slow down a bit from here on out. Maybe then I’ll go ice climbing. Maybe then I’ll feel epic enough.

Two nights ago, I switched my mattress around so that my head is now pointing east instead of west. I was hoping that changing the fung-shue of the room might be conducive to better sleep and dreams. I fell asleep as soon as I turned my mattress around. This morning I was dreaming that I was ice climbing. The route was difficult, probably a grade V or VI. I was soloing it, without tools. I just had crampons. I made it all the way up without trouble, but on the way down, I was really sketched out, wishing I had tools or something to help me grip better. Then I thought “well, it’s just a dream, so I’ll be okay.” I was cold, but not miserable cold, more like mountain cold. This was also a full sensory dream. As I was climbing further down, I started to wonder if this was really a dream, or if I was awake and climbing. I wanted to know because I felt the stakes would be considerably higher if this was my physical reality. But then I thought “What’s the worse that can happen? I fall and die. Well, I’d rather live fully and get a shorter incarnation than short-change myself on anything life has to offer.” Then I went back to dark.

I woke up from that dream just in time to drive on slick roads to teach my first yoga class at the studio, and it all went great.

XOXO – Mel.

Ice Climbing Mt. Washington

Photos from Google images

3 thoughts on “Trial by Ice and the Loss of Freedom

  1. Pingback: Well … that was weird … | roamingbobcat

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