Posted by: Bruce Proctor | March 20, 2017

Dream: the Russian children’s tale

January 7, 2017 1:30 a.m

I am on a crowded train heading east, at night. It could well have been in Russia, though we all spoke American. I was sitting toward the back of the coach, which was lit, but poorly. The interior was murky, a dark, musky red. Maybe the coach was made of red wood, or perhaps it had been upholstered in heavy, red-brown fabric. Maybe it was just bad light. The feel could have been quite old-fashioned.

Up several rows from me a girl, perhaps ten or eleven years old, was holding forth to a rapt group of half a dozen other children about the story of Dr. Zhivago. Finally, I could not contain myself any longer and moved up to join them. I put my hands out toward the girl and began to speak to them all about the deep meaning of the story, the grown-up meanings. They listened with all their being, which surprised me mightily as I was an uninvited guest–and an adult at that.

I broke off finally, self-conscious. We were now somehow seated on the other side of the carriage. They told me, “No! No! We want to hear everything you have to say!” The depth of my urgency broke through me: “As you know, Dr. Zhivago took place in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Many, many were killed, or starved, or were caught up in the turmoil. I believe that we have come to a time here tonight where we can and must resolve that agony of so many years ago!”

I spoke mainly to the girl story-teller. She seemed like the central figure–the bringer-together– of the group. And now I was the other center of the web of us all. Still I held back; I knew I myself didn’t know exactly what I was talking about. So there was now a palpable tension.

Across the table from me to my left, a little girl, the smallest of them, only five or six years old, thrust out her arms to me. Since she was so little and apart from the group, I didn’t immediately respond to her. But she was having none of it. She launched her arms again to me and grabbed me: “You must do this!” she cried: “Hold me! Hold me tight!” And she was at my chest, and I held her for dear life. I was afraid I’d crush her, she was so tiny. The rest of the group had me reach out my freer arm through them to the story-teller, and all of them grabbed on.

Then a deep wailing emerged from us, one and all, the littlest one, and me myself, all of us joined together with all our being. Locked together, we wailed and wailed. I felt from the urgency of it that I might have a physical-world heart attack, and I thought this agony might go on and on forever. Some moments later I surrendered utterly to that possibility, to that unknown immensity. And after only a few more seconds (and to my astonishment!) everything resolved perfectly naturally and easily, and I was back in my physical body, waking, shaken but at peace.


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