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Sometimes the week brings oddities

When I went to less-frequent blogging I warned that you’ll never know what you’re going to get; it’s whatever the week brings.

The following falls well into the “whatever” category.


I was dead.

It didn’t much matter, even to me, how, when, or why I died. I was simply done with that phase of my life and ready to move on.

But move … how? Where?

The afterlife I’d landed in was from no religion known to mankind. There were no harp-slinging angels. On the other hand, there were also no politicians being dangled by pitchfork-wielding demons over vats of their own boiling verbal excreta. No ferrymen, three-headed dogs, or Elysian fields. And if I’d reached some Buddhist waystation and was about to be reincarnated as a cockroach, there were no signs, literal or figurative.

I stood in a vast, vague gray. I couldn’t tell you where it began or ended. Judging by the acoustics, I’d say it was a vast, gray room, not a vast gray universal void. I’d be tempted to call it featureless. Except that it did have one notable feature.

It had zombies.

Every once in a while, a zombie would lurch out of the smooth, cottony nothingness. They were the same sort of undead that populates movies and TV shows. Mindless shamblers, dripping blood and bits of themselves. But they arrived only one by one, not by the traditional horde.

And though they were eager to consume flesh — in particular, my flesh, me being the only meal around — they didn’t manage to be scary.

That’s because, shortly after I turned up, another figure stepped out of the opaque gloom. It was a tall, almost spectrally thin, red-headed man clad all in white. He stopped the zombies by … scowling at them. Really sternly.

Yes, it’s an anti-climax, even an embarrassment. But in the afterlife (at least this singular afterlife), there was no point in shooting them or cutting their heads off because they were already the dead undead. They merely needed to be intimidated into better behavior.

With his perfect, piercing scowl, the Guardian kept zombie after zombie from rending my flesh.

I immediately understood that this thin, white figure was my spiritual guide. That was good, because I was ready to figure out how to move on toward a productive afterlife.

He said nothing I can recall. I perceived that his role was to watch over me while I figured out next steps for myself.

Even without dark or light, this place had days.

By the second day, I had learned to do my own anti-zombie glare. Noting that, the Guardian beamed at me as if I were a precocious child, which I thought was silly. How hard is it to scowl, after all? But he seemed to think I’d learned something impressive, and learned it impressively fast.

On the third day, I extracted my soul from my body (don’t ask me how; I dimly recall it required a wand), held it in the air for a moment, then lowered it into a big book I held.

My soul was a slowly whirling disk of lavender and blue light with glittering sparks, a miniature galaxy about 18 inches tall. Another, smaller circle merged into it at the bottom. As I lowered it toward the book, it became still, flat, and clear, like an image printed on flexible transparent sheeting.

I took it to the Guardian and asked him, “Is this what a soul looks like?”

The Guardian, as if he was beholding an astoundingly sublime creation and awestruck by my ability to produce it after a mere three days, replied, “This is what YOUR soul looks like.”

I knew then that whoever ran this afterlife was expecting great things of me. Though I’m not normally one who expects great things or goes after them, I felt a new surge of desire and determination to go on — to whatever still unknown mission it would be my job to fulfill. Not because the unknown chief of the afterlife wanted it, though it was nice to have the moral support, but because it was my mission and my destiny.

I felt inadaquate and absurdly over-praised, but I had a job to do and I was going to rise to the unknown task.

At that moment, I began slowly to rise out of the dream. I felt remarkably at peace, floating into consciousness with no break between sleep and reality.

But even as I lingered there between dream and morning tea, I saw clearly that if I actually do have a soul (which I doubt, but who can say?), it wouldn’t be some filmy pristine object of beauty.

After a lifetime of human compromise, striving, selfishness, indignation, imagination, fear, heartbreak, doubt, rage, error, folly, ego, lust, laughter, and general use and misuse my soul would surely look like a ragged old shop cloth — bleached of its natural color by endless washings, but forever marred with black grease and probably a spatter or two of rusty blood.


See? Very whatever. This was the dream I had last night.

Does it make any sense to you?

After several years of having few dreams that I could remember, and remember only in snatches when at all, I’ve been dreaming vividly. These are long, complex dreams, sometimes raising trivia or images from my ancient past. (Two nights earlier a dream ended when I found my way “home” after being lost and discovered that four of my roommates were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I know those turtles only from one cute but forgettable movie decades ago. I woke from that dream with all their charmingly ridiculous Renaissance names — Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello — on the tip of my tongue, even though I haven’t thought of them since leaving that movie theater ca. 1996.)

I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something, but my conscious self isn’t smart enough to get it.


I was planning this week to blog on the question of trust. As in trust, but verify. As in when to give or withhold trust and that terrible moment when you recognize you’ve given trust undeserved to someone who’s used it to commit harm.

But this is what came, instead.

Maybe later for that. We’ll see how the currents of life run.


  1. david
    david April 30, 2019 6:08 am

    What a fascinating dream Claire. I’ve not had a ‘ponder me’ dream in years. I wish I could have another. Just thinking a lot about something that might be a ‘meaning of life’ question has its own special quality.

    These days my dreams all evaporate when I awaken, and leave me with no clue what they were about.

  2. Pat
    Pat April 30, 2019 6:25 am

    Where is Freud when you need him?

    I had to laugh at the Ninja Turtles – I haven’t thought of them since my son played with them years ago.

  3. Jolly
    Jolly April 30, 2019 8:12 am

    Some medications have weird side-effects. I’m on one that affects dreams. Now, I’ve ALWAYS had bizarre dreams, and I’ve usually had “lucid” dreams – where I can theoretically interact and modify what’s going on – and remember them. In my case, I usually end up getting so excited, ahem, at certain times that I end up waking up.
    That said, since my dreams have always been weird, it’s hard to tell if they’ve gotten weirder or not.
    And, I have some reruns from time-to-time. Such as the one where I’m traveling in the back of a 64 Rambler station wagon on a bridge in Florida, when the bridge suddenly disappears, and the car gets a flat – right next to a big old house with lots of Spanish Moss and stuff. I go up to the door – you get the drift.

    Are you on any meds that may be causing this?

  4. Pat
    Pat April 30, 2019 8:25 am

    Unless it was a new medicine taken yesterday, signs or symptoms should have shown up before, maybe even gradually built up in the system over several days. Or she might have had “daymares” while awake. (Demerol has done that with me while wide awake, and I couldn’t control or stop what I was thinking or what was dancing in my head.)

  5. Pat
    Pat April 30, 2019 8:33 am

    When I say “yesterday”, I meant the day before she had the dream.

  6. ellendra
    ellendra April 30, 2019 8:43 am

    Maybe that sparkling galaxy is what all those hurts and adventures and living look like from the other side.

    Maybe the person with the easy life, who never takes risks and who thinks a broken fingernail is a world-stopping tragedy. Maybe she’s the one who’s soul is a colorless rag.

  7. Joel
    Joel April 30, 2019 8:46 am

    You have cooler dreams than I do. I’m jealous.

  8. Comrade X
    Comrade X April 30, 2019 9:45 am

    Are the shrooms coming out already?

  9. Claire
    Claire April 30, 2019 10:40 am

    No psychoactive drugs at all. Neither pharmaceutical nor recreational. Honest. 🙂

    And Ellendra, that’s a lovely thought. I’d like to imagine it to be true, but having been raised in the “one wrong move and you’re trash — oh heck, you’re trash before you even have a chance to make a move” variety of religion, I naturally suspect a soul of dirty old rag variety.

  10. Owl
    Owl April 30, 2019 11:32 am

    “. . . there were also no politicians being dangled by pitchfork-wielding demons over vats of their own boiling verbal excreta.”

    Oh darn. What a letdown.

  11. larryarnold
    larryarnold April 30, 2019 2:26 pm

    I remember a Grady Nutt story on Hee Haw, the gist of which was there will be a whole lot of people in Heaven who are surprised they got there, and a whole lot more who are surprised at who else got there.

    I agree with your spirit guide, I have a feeling your soul is in a lot better shape than you think it is.

  12. Claire
    Claire April 30, 2019 4:56 pm

    “I have a feeling your soul is in a lot better shape than you think it is”

    Thank you for that, larryarnold. We can certainly hope so.

    Also, I like david’s description of this as a “ponder me” dream. Wonderful term, and that’s exactly what this was.

    And this afternoon I just had to come back to the library to put a hold on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s movie …

  13. firstdouglas
    firstdouglas May 4, 2019 1:59 pm

    Dream experiences, are the sort of ..interactions that one needs to sneak up on, kinda, my experience. And yep, I can only speak rather vaguely about all of this. But just here, I’m meaning that even putting dreams into words can be difficult, that even the most carefully chosen words of description tend to carry one away from the truth of the event, which was the experience itself.

    As an aside, speaking of words, I have found that if I put a small notebook bedside, and set the intention before sleep that I SHALL write my dreams on waking, then I WILL remember dreams on waking. (If not on night # 1, then I bet you, try a second night. And note, cannabis interferes with this.)

    I have had at least one fully prophetic dream. Nothing to do with world events, just what was to happen in my own day following. Nothing momentous nor unfortunate, just entirely should not have been expected, and following precisely, if weirdly, the events of the past night’s dream.

    And curiously enough (to me) your dream seems to be kinda moving into life areas I’m reading, investigating these days.

    Took me awhile to write this much, that is, on reading your article earlier, took me some days to get started here (about ten minutes ago). And I’m still feeling as if me writing much more will only carry me away from what might be useful or true. But that dream of yours feels to me as if it might be useful to you. At least, I’m optimistic, just in that you had that experience.

  14. Antibubba
    Antibubba May 5, 2019 9:29 pm

    Some part of you, Claire, knows your soul is a bright and glittery thing, even if the rest of you doesn’t.

    You’re a bright spark as far as I’m concerned.

  15. AC
    AC May 8, 2019 10:41 pm


  16. Dana
    Dana May 13, 2019 8:23 pm

    The guardian (Св ангелъ хранитель) holds the souls of the righteous in the hand of God (Ду́ша пра́ведных в руце Божией), sometimes depicted as a disk of blue light with glittering sparks (σπινθῆρες). Scripture also says, “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and there shall no torment touch them.” (Wisdom 3:1) The Greek text from the Septuagint reads, “δικαίων δὲ ψυχαὶ ἐν χειρὶ Θεοῦ, καὶ οὐ μὴ ἅψηται αὐτῶν βάσανος.”

    Further, “and in the time of their visitation (ἐπισκοπῆς) they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks (σπινθῆρες) among the stubble.” (Wisdom 3:7)

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