A Taoist parable tells about a man who dreamed he was a butterfly. Upon waking, he asked himself, “Am I a man who dreamed he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming it is a man?” (Quantum God, Chapter One, “Will you have the soup?”)
With a recent gain of 12 pounds—which amounts to 12% of my normal body weight—and everything swelling up to (but, unfortunately, not including) my bustline, I thought my death was imminent. Blood clots in both legs. Failing heart. Or failing kidney. After spending much of my life wishing I were not alive, I found I was not ready to die.
Ha! Always a late-bloomer, am I finally getting “into” life? Everywhere we turn, we can see injustice or abuse or greed that needs our attention. Our efforts. Our compassion. “No rest for the weary,” my mom used to say.
Kurt Godel, however, had another viewpoint: One part of any system cannot make a judgment about that system. Or, as Bernie Rhodenbarr in Lawrence Block’s Burglar series observed, “It’s hard to see the picture when you’re standing inside the frame.” (I’ve been reading with my feet above my heart a lot, lately.)
The movie, Divergent, contains a fascinating scene where Tris realized she was dreaming and took control of her fear and, indeed, her dream.
Is this life a dream? Although we know there is a divine realm from which we made our field trip to Earth, this life certainly feels real. Whatever it is, we’re smack in the middle of it! And if, like me before, we’re not really engaged with living, what kind of experience can we hope to create?
My friend, Chuck, calls life an adventure. Sounds a little scary to me, but he’s on the right track. We’ve got a lot of living to do!