Day 196 “The Nature of Nature”

The snakes are back! This time I am at a conference of women, and the presenters are going on and on without a break. I push back, insisting that we have lunch – my blood sugar needs it. So, the session breaks up and I sit alone with my prepared meal, having assumed that there would be nothing for me to eat. The conference is being housed in the country, in a private dwelling surrounded by dry, almost desert-like conditions. While everyone is lined up for lunch, one of the home owners is looking for snakes, opening cupboards, shaking out mats. And she is finding them! Huge brown, menacing snakes, and ghostly grey translucent snakes. I follow her about and watch with repulsed fascination, as she tackles each one, conquering it with expertise. “You have to,” she tells me, “Otherwise, they get you.”

I awake with a startle. Damn snakes. They have been showing up in my dreams for the past year, each one a herald of sudden change. I have come to loathe them.

But these snakes are different from the brightly coloured snakes of the past. I decide to investigate further. One image that stays with me is of a wooden box, full of fallen leaves, into which the woman pushes a pitchfork, revealing a next of snakes. Fritz Perls, father of Gestalt, suggests that all aspects of a dream represent the self. I dive in.

I am a large wooden box, made to withstand the weather: an outdoors box, buried in the ground, like a casket waiting to be closed? My body swells with the rains and contracts with the cold, and creaks and splinters, but carries on, containing whatever elements are thrown its way.

I am fallen leaves, each one a page from my own book, scattered, moldy remnants of a life well lived, past prime now, dying efforts, gone. And I am the tree, still standing proud, despite being stripped of its essence; waiting, waiting for another chance – a new beginning.

I am the woman, fighting against the elements; striving to keep her house and home safe from intrusions; fighting against Nature.

And I am the pitchfork, wielded with intent, an instrument really, with no mind of my own, plunging into the fallen bits of myself with the intent of vetting out the intruders.

And I am the nest of snakes; wriggling, writhing, full of life, despite all attempts to annihilate me. I am the force of Nature: earthy, fiery, alive. I am transformation and rebirth, healing and passion. I am life! Feared by some, reviled by others, awed by all. I will survive!

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.