Life Is A Dream
I had been in a discussion with a friend about the vivid dream states we had as young men in the 60’s and early 70’s which often spilled over into our waking lives to enhance the frenetic and exciting period we lived through then, so long ago. As my friend noted, “It leaves a bit of emptiness to . . . suddenly find the mass of society practically somnambulent.” My question was, Were we living an illusory reality in our dreams and in our wakings?
My wife and I had planned two days of winter hiking in the front range of the Canadian Rockies west of Calgary. We opted to climb Yamnuska (“Wall of Stone”) Ridge rather than hike into Grotto Canyon first because it was more demanding and we wanted to ease up a bit for enjoying big city life that weekend. However, we both slept in the first day, even though I half woke early in the morning, only to fall back into a kind of dream state. So we decided to hike the canyon.
As we drove along the side roads of the front range we were passing through the reserve of the Stoney Indians. I sensed an immense benign presence hovering over the landscape like the smiling face of the Stoney guide Samson Beaver in the well known 1907 photograph of him and his family.
As we hiked into the canyon I began composing a haiku on the dancing Indian paintings our guidebook described. But the author missed the impressive line of small upright figures reminiscent of the ghostlike beings painted in Utah’s Horseshoe Canyon. We recognized one of the small figures as Rabbit Man which we had seen in eastern and central Canada rock paintings. Then we moved on into the bowl of the canyon to view three iced-over waterfalls.
On the way back to Calgary it dawned on me that some ineffable something had drawn me to the canyon. I later recalled that Black Elk’s tribe acted out his dream vision in an attempt to alter their future. When we returned home I read in a book on shamanism I had purchased the night before our canyon hike that shamans claim they alter their consciousness so that they might obtain knowledge that allows them to “ameliorate the condition” of their society. I had found my answer.
late afternoon light . . .
shaman pictographs stand above
the frozen creek