I have always had very vivid dreams. Nightmares even. The kind you wake up from screaming or crying, the pillow already drenched with tears. In the past few years, there has been an interesting trend in these dreams: I survive. I don’t wake up falling off a cliff, I land and bounce. I escape the rapist right when I think my legs are stuck, when he’s closing in, I scream “Call 911.” And it works.
The other night I had one of these dreams. I was windsurfing at Leo Carillo Beach, but in the dream, windsurfing was really just swimming back and forth in a similar side-on-shore tack. As I was crawling through the stiff chop, breathing to my right every other stroke on what would be the starboard side, heading out to sea, I thought: there are sharks in this water. And I’m not on a board (as if that makes a difference) I’m in here with them, kicking and splashing in the waves. I really should get out. I am crazy. As it always is on a big day at Leo, there are several other “windsurfers” swimming with me in our upwind lanes. I can’t get out because of the sharks, I think. That isn’t a good reason to get out. It’s self-centered even, to think that they would chose me and lame to make choices based on the fear of sharks. So I keep swimming. On my last trip back to shore, I find myself way under the water, like a hundred feet. I can see the sandy bottom and the sun coming through the water overhead. In real life, there is a 1000’ drop a few hundred yards from shore at this beach. (That’s what creates the famous long wave on which Gidget was shot. (Point Break, too)) I’m too deep, I think, I’m going to drown. It seems like there is a mile of water between me and fresh air. It will be ok, I then realize, I can push off the ocean floor, like in a pool, if I push off really hard, I will just shoot up to the top. So I swim down, away from the oxygen, land, bend my knees and push. Sure enough, I shoot up through the blue water, burst through the surface and arrive safe and sound on the rocky shore, alive and well, never having even seen one of the sharks.
It was a nightmare, but I figured out how to survive. I’m not a therapist, but I have to believe that this is a good sign.