“You always. You never. Why can’t you just? Do you realize you?”
I stood in my kitchen, futilely swatting at fruit flies with a pot holder, again replaying the recent accusations of a special relationship like a favorite song stuck in my head. Vaguely, increasingly, and uncomfortably aware that a part of me actually enjoyed the volleyed, verbal return of my silent recriminations; relished the proof that I didn’t deserve to awaken from this dream given my many less than admirable qualities and undeniably hateful nature. It had been that kind of week in the dream; the lid on my personal Pandora ’s Box of unforgiven ego issues inexplicably blown wide open. The moods of the dream figure I still sometimes completely forget I am not vacillated as wildly as the disingenuous accusations of the buffoons in Congress I so wanted to blame for the downward trajectory of the country I still sometimes completely forget has nothing to do with what we are.
Then, too, I was recovering from yet another sinus infection, the miserably ironic result of allergies to an explosion of breathtaking wildflowers during a visit to the idyllic mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado, to attend a wedding. A trip during which a blister resulting from a pair of brand new hiking boots derailed further mountain forays and an ill-fated attempt to act my daughter’s age on the dance floor resulted in a pinched nerve in my hip that has left me hobbling around in battered flip flops since.
Meanwhile, on the home front, a battalion of fruit flies having hitched a ride on a bag of produce were breeding like bunnies in our kitchen, despite the little bowls of apple cider vinegar laced with dish detergent recommended on the internet, strips of fly paper dangling above the sink (which doesn’t work on fruit flies, by the way), and my vigorous attempts to annihilate them with said pot holder. On the TV, The Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week—that peculiar, addictive celebration of all things good, bad, and horrific about that most feared of oceanic creatures—had just commenced, spewing spine-tingling footage of sharks in all shapes, sizes, and varieties insatiably hunting their prey.
Whack! Another fly met its maker while my little dog cowered in the corner and the TV narrator at last revealed the venue of the most shark attacks ever recorded in the world (The U.S. House of Representatives, notwithstanding): Florida.
“I knew it,” I thought, my mind on ego suddenly reviewing a more-than-decade-old video involving the highly suspect shenanigans of another set of politicians in that great Southern state. Until the lyrics of my special relationship misery came boomeranging back again and I found myself once more in that rawest of places, begging for help from you know who to see things differently even as a part of me secretly reveled in the personal feeding frenzy born of a drop of human blood a shark can smell a quarter mile away.
“Jesus,” I said, and presto, there he was again–my imaginary friend–in full fantasized regalia. In honor of Shark Week, he had donned a wet suit and flippers, but had not given up those wacky pink shades I had so come to envy these past few months. He stared down at a bowl of vinegar wherein a dozen fruit fly corpses lay perpetually suspended.
“I did try catching them in a Dixie Cup and taking them outside,” I said, understandably growing defensive under his knowing gaze. “Have you ever tried to catch a fruit fly? It doesn’t work. I just can’t let them take over in here. I mean, they carry disease.”
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
“You usually do.”
“A minor twinge of annoyance conceals the thought of murder. There’s no hierarchy of illusions, blah, blah, blah.”
“An illusion is an illusion is an illusion.”
“Easy for you to say.”
He smiled, adjusting his glasses.
I lowered my voice. “The thing is, there are still sharks everywhere you look in this dream.”
“You think they can hear us?” He was whispering, too, just in case.
“Let’s get real, J. I’ve been practicing this Course for a pretty long time now. God knows how earnest I’ve been.”
His brows shot up above the frames of his shades.
“OK, maybe not so much with the God part. But I’m here to tell you I honestly don’t think.” My hip throbbed. Fruit flies swarmed around my head, evoking thoughts of another “f” word if only for the sake of alliteration. I grabbed his arm. “Come on,” I said.
We sat on the leather couch in the living room. I turned down the volume, but allowed the TV to continue zooming in on the seductive image of a Great White feeding off an Australian reef, revealing a close-up of its jagged grin and serial killer eyes. I sighed. “The thing is; I must still feel so guilty, you know? I mean, I go along all right-minded and peaceful for a while and then—bam! I can’t seem to stop judging, the incoming attacks begin, and all hell breaks loose.”
He handed me a tissue from his infinite, invisible supply.
“You want to know the truth?” I asked.
I leaned toward him, and lowered my voice some more. “I can’t stand any of them, sometimes. Not him, not her, not those Bozos in Washington, not me. And don’t even get me started on the fruit flies.”
On the screen a shark opened its enormous mouth and lunged toward a cage containing an evidently lobotomized photographer in a wet suit. And I found myself secretly rooting for the shark. I dabbed at my eyes. “I just can’t wake up, J!” I said. “It’s never going to happen.”
Jesus took my hand. On the screen, a person stood on a surfboard off the coast of South Africa, paddling through translucent, turquoise waters above the shadow of a long, fluid, strikingly beautiful shark. My shoulders relaxed.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said, recalling a section from that morning’s A Course in Miracles Workbook lesson 181.
A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals. You have been quite preoccupied with how extremely different the goals this course is advocating are from those you held before. And you have also been dismayed by your depressing and restricting thought that, even if you should succeed, you will inevitably lose your way again…These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. Nothing more.
“Jesus,” I said, smacking myself upside the head.
“Hey.” He smiled.
“It’s only about now, isn’t it? What I choose now, in this moment. Not what happened last week or this morning. Not where I’m going. Just right now. That’s where my Mind is and has always been and will always be. That’s the only place I can go to choose again. The only place I can go to be with you. The only place I could ever be to see things differently. I am so going to ace this course,” I said.
Jesus had his feet up on the coffee table and was fiddling with the volume on the remote. “Now that we got that straightened out, do we get popcorn?” he asked.
NOTE: A Course in Miracles uses the character of Jesus as a symbol of the awakened mind we can relate to and call on in the condition we think we’re in here in the dream. Although he doesn’t join with us in making our dream of exile from all-inclusive, eternal Love real, he does ask us to bring him all the illusions that arise in the classroom of our lives for review and re-interpretation from evidence of separate interests to proof positive that we never severed our connection from our true, non-dualistic nature and in truth remain awake in God, merely dreaming.
Susan Dugan’s books Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness are available at RMMC and on Amazon. She writes about ACIM based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings at ForaysInForgiveness.com and teaches Tuesday nights at RMMC.