A Blank Canvas | Part 1

by Elouise

Yangtze River, Dusk

Ever since the middle of June I’ve worked on a dream that still haunts me. I’ve dialogued with it on paper and in my mind almost every day. It feels like a turning point.

Here’s the dream, as recorded in mid-June.

I’m on a square raft-like piece of something in the Yangtze River. I’m alone. I can’t see anyone around who might help me. I’m afraid I’ll capsize in this water and drown. There’s a long pier, but I’m drifting farther and farther away from it. I’m lying on my stomach, with no room to move and no way to paddle or guide this ‘raft.’ I think I’m going to drown – or be eaten alive if I fall off the raft.

I don’t have any idea how I got here. I just woke up and here I was. Floating on this small square bit of what? I don’t even know. I decide the only thing I can do is lie still and let the raft hold me up. It seems I’m utterly alone and on my own—drifting farther away from the pier every minute.

Suddenly the scene changes – sort of. Same huge river, and still on a raft. But this time the ‘raft’ is flexible – if I move (I’m still on my stomach), it bends precariously so that I almost fall into the river. The pier is nowhere in sight. I’m scrambling just to stay afloat as the corners of the raft give way and bend into the water. The only way to stay out of the water is to lie perfectly still. Can I do this?

I’m utterly alone – feeling like I’m fighting for my life. No one else is anywhere in sight, and the shore is far off. The water is ominously dark and still. I don’t see any color anywhere. It feels deserted. Like the end of everything.

First associations–

  • My health and our upcoming Viking cruise. I’m lying face down on a tiny raft in the middle of a huge river, without a paddle or help of any kind. Alone. Old and worn out. Scared. Small and weak. Defeated. Anxious about making it through the cruise.

Several days later, more associations—

  • The Genesis account of creation. The earth was without form and void; darkness covered the face of the deep. No light, no stars, no colors of trees, birds or flowers. And God said….
  • The Gospel account of Jesus walking on water. Maybe this dream is about leaving the raft and not being fearful.

The next day—

  • I want to turn this scene of desolation on its head. Make it a scene of creation or re-creation.
  • I see connections with Emily Dickinson’s poem about faith as a pierless bridge.

Three days later—

  • Getting to the shore is no guarantee of safety or guidance.
  • The raft is a gift, a sign that I’ve not been abandoned. Still, I can stay here, or leave it behind.
  • The dream begs for color, movement, signs of life.
  • Am I being invited to speak something into existence?

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 20 August 2016
Image of the Yangtze River (Three Gorges) found at wickipedia.org