We traveled far to visit a special friend a long time ago. He was taking us to one of his favorite places in the world and it was going to be an interesting journey getting there. This is a story about that adventure.
As soon as we arrived in his town we were whisked off to a large canoe. The three of us began the arduous task of rowing through the dense swampland that crowded in on all sides of our boat. Tall waterlogged cypress trees towered all around us with drapes of curly moss hanging from the lowest branches. The only sounds were the swishing of the water as we dipped in our paddles to move us forward. The water swirled a chocolate colored brown from the tannin and smelled of earth.
After some time our friend stopped the canoe and stood in the bow. He placed one foot on the edge of the boat and lifted his head to the heavens and began to sing a low and sad song in a language I didn’t understand. He sang for the better part of an hour before a great rumbling was heard from beneath us in the canoe. I could feel the movement in my bones and worried we might sink there. I was wishing he would stop singing.
Then out of the water rose a tiny cabin with a church steeple roof and a white ornate door. It pushed the water aside and drops rolled off the rooftop. A dock emerged right next to us and we watched in absolute awe and wonder as it pulled us closer and tied us to it. My friend hopped onto the dock and held out his hand for me to come too. We were all laughing then. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life!
The cabin was much larger on the inside than it appeared. We settled in and built a fire in the large hearth to warm us while we prepared a dinner fit for a king. Everything was beautiful. Everything was magical.
I had curled up on one of the overstuffed divans when out of a small pocket in the wall, a tiny kitten came out to play with me. I held a string for her to chase and rubbed her chin. She batted the strands of my hair and boxed with her own shadow. She was a pretty tan colored tabby kitten, still playful and growing into a cat soon.
She wrestled my hand and I laughed at her efforts to overpower me. I playfully jostled her head and tickled her belly causing her to bite and nibble my fingers. She purred and squealed and kicked my hand with her back paws as we played. That’s when the snake head emerged. Defiantly rising from the back of the kitten’s small neck until it stood before me in full bloom, a cobra swayed in front of my eyes. I sat in shocked silence, trying not to make any sudden moves. I was terrified. It was one of the most horrific sights I had ever witnessed.
From across the room I heard the soft chuckle of my friend before he said this to me;
“You looked for the snake and it presented itself to you.”
That was my dream last night. I don’t often dream and especially not in such great detail, but I guess there’s something I am subconsciously processing right now. I woke up this morning and puzzled through exactly what my dream meant.
The friend is key.
It was no surprise to me that he was the person we were going to visit. We have visited him at his home before and it is surrounded by these lush forests and trees in the Pacific Northwest.
The cabin magically rising from the swamp wasn’t too hard to figure out either since I have witnessed a home of sorts rising from the dust at Burning Man, but in a desert setting, not a swamp. Though the water was probably wishful thinking, since water out there is a premium.
It also reminded me of past relationships. There were some of the most surreal and unhealthy connections a person could ever encounter and I ran from many of them like I was on fire. In my whole life I had never come into such close and personal contact with folks that wore their snake like a badge of honor. Some of them delighted in hurting others so much that I marveled at how large the pile of molted skin was that they left behind them.
The kitten becoming a snake wasn’t hard to figure out at all, especially connected to my friend. He has played with the kitten too, but the kitten has never manifested into the snake for him, and probably never will. He knows how to keep the playful and loving kitten present. I am still learning how to do that. I am also learning that I can choose not to have a relationship with the kitten at all once I realize the snake lurks just beneath the surface.
People, in general, all manifest the kitten in the first blush of any budding relationship. Playful, fun-loving and eager to be cuddled and adored. Maintaining the lightness and the love in friendships is something you might strive for as time passes and that kitten/relationship/friendship becomes a full grown cat.
You can have relationships with others that never become the snake.
I do tend to look for the snake in some people. What I am learning to do these days is not to look for the snake anymore. If I suspect it’s presence, I try to walk away before it manifests. I used to stick around though, and try to bring the kitten back to life. That has never worked out for me and I’m here to tell you that it won’t work out for you either. Once the snake presents itself, it is always going to be there. I must warn all of you that look for the snake that if you seek it, it will show itself to you and you will never like it when it does. Often you can escape without getting bitten and sometimes consumed, but for those times when you don’t, it doesn’t heal without scars.
So until the next time I dream of you…don’t look for the snake.