THE POLAR BEAR & THE SPIDER

How come dreams are so real? Or, is it that everyday reality is so dreamlike? Last night I again woke up to find myself traveling in that mysterious borderland.

I had gone to a new “beauty shop” in another part of town looking for a beautician to do my hair. This particular town was no where I had been before. In fact, the shop itself was located in an old brick building that looked ready for demolition. There were a lot of people there getting their hair cut and dyed and blow combed.

A young, street-wise Latin woman was my beautician. I had arrived at the shop with my hair in big pink rollers and merely wanted a comb-out – a test before committing myself to her complete care. Because of a miscommunication between us, she started to dye my hair and before I knew it, I was sitting in a barber chair with a towel around my dripping head.

I was afraid to protest and wondered how I could get out of this situation. After a few moments, I walked over to the big tall windows of the building to pass the time. Imagine my surprise when I looked out and down (we were several stories up) and saw a big white polar bear cavorting on the snowy yard below.

It rolled in the snow, twisted and turned, ran and slid on the ice. All together the bear was having a wonderful time as it darted and rolled across the yard. I wanted to join him and make angels in the snow.

When the polar bear slipped out of sight, I ran to another window, hoping to catch another glimpse but when I looked out I saw the scene of a tenement or slum area, clothes lines criss-crossing the yards and hung with washing. There were tired women tending the lines and children crying for attention.

Meanwhile, my erstwhile beautician had returned to check on the progress of the dye job. She intimidated me and I wanted to keep on her good side. Although I hadn’t planned to have my hair colored, I said, I didn’t mind the mistake. After all, if it didn’t come out, it was only hair and could be cut.

She, in turn, apologized for her misunderstanding and offered to get me a cup of hot chocolate. It would be another half hour before I was done and could leave. I declined but felt much easier now and when I looked again I saw that she was not the hot-tempered young Latin girl I had thought but an old skinny man who was not angry but overworked.

As I sat back in the barber chair to await the results of my dye job, I thought to myself, “I want to remember about the polar bear. It will make a very interesting topic for the blog. Now how did this whole story start?” And then it was I realized that it had all been a dream and I woke up to hear the morning news playing from the bedside radio.

I went into the bathroom to wash my face. Several days ago a spider had taken up residence in one of the twin sink bowls and I had been reluctant to move him/her on its way. I looked down and spider had curled up into a small black ball sometime during the night and its little spidery legs were folded up like an ironing board. I knew it was dead.

I was glad I had not disturbed the spider’s last few days with my desire for cleanliness and a bug-free bathroom. Years ago I had heard a spiritual teacher say that every life form values its life just as much as I did. Since that time I had found it very hard to step on the stray bug or swat a fly. I, in turn, did not want my own life cut short by some gigantic foot or  hand.

My mind darted from the dead spider to the cavorting polar bear. Which one was more real, I pondered, then sat down to write.

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