The Heart-Shaped Locket Gang
It's all a dream being dreamed.
I awoke from my dream to a startling realization: I was an illusion. Just a dream being dreamed. Sure, I could still touch my face, hear my heart beating, smell Natalie’s perfume as she slept next to me, taste the joint from last night upon my tongue and see the flames shimmering in the sky outside my window, but I was gob smacked to discover that this human being who my parents had named Billy didn’t exist. My timing, as always, was a calamity. The world, at the very moment of my breakthrough, was hurtling into the abyss due to the sudden massive rise in sea levels and the disarmingly absurd fluctuations in weather, all of which had been preceded by a curiously contagious fog of ignorance and conformity.
This, as one would expect, was causing things to devolve at such unmanageable levels that the delivery of goods and services had ceased, and it was quickly becoming apparent that there was no going back to life as we had known it. Ever. Not surprisingly, humanity was completely ill prepared for such a confluence of events, and as the unraveling was happening at a most inauspicious pace, I began searching for a photo of my family that I kept hidden in my tattered copy of Henry Miller’s The Air-Conditioned Nightmare just to see their faces for one last time.
Some of us had been expecting this for years, and to those kindred souls in our little tribe, affectionately known as The Heart-Shaped Locket Gang, what was now transpiring across the globe was a long overdue comeuppance. Our rock and roll band of misfits came about many moons ago, when a wise crone named Kandi had the brilliant idea to form a club of compassionate rebels, artists and weirdos. The price of membership into the gang, along with a genuine desire to be of service to the earth above all else, was that you had to make yourself a heart-shaped locket as a tribute to that once thriving organ that had withered over the centuries as we humans became disproportionately enamored with our minds. And, as members in this merry carnival of freaks, we would all wear this heart-shaped locket as a talismanic reminder of what happens when an animal like ours gets consumed by hubris.
When the heart-shaped locket gang used to gather in the park we would laugh and cry and scream at the way the human being would choose denial over all else. The facts could be staring us in the face and we would hold tight to our belief in ourselves, in technology, in science, in whatever mother of invention we could conjure up to silence the doubt and fear. ‘What a strange and sublime creature we are,’ we would say to one another as the smiles lifted across our faces and the tears, once again, began to flow.
Those were magical times. We knew our fate was sealed, but we came together in jubilation anyway. We longed to commune with each other, to gaze into one another’s eyes and see our own soul reflected there. To hold hands, to dance, to sing, to immerse ourselves in the blessing and the vanity of being alive. The trees and grasses and breezes and birds, and squirrels and mountains and flowers and stars were all celebrating with us. They were us and we were them. And it was in our resonating with this truth that we were comforted, made whole again. Even as the Doomsday Clock ticked ever closer to midnight as the years passed, we held each other in reverence and joy and accepted our circumstance without quarrel.
The fact that my illusory nature was dawning on me again now, in the midst of all the chaos, had an unexpectedly calming effect on me. I took a look around the room, and despite the crumbling of civilization happening just outside my window, I decided to make my way over to the record player and put on Joni Mitchell’s Blue. It seemed like the perfect soundtrack to welcome the end of the world with grace.
This album always takes me back to a simpler time where I am sitting on the floor with my headphones on, lost in the beauty and mystery of the music. Uplifted and yet serene, challenged by the melody and accepted as I am, free to roam the landscape of my spirit while shackled by the limits of my body. Music has a power like that, it invites us to transcend the monkey mind, to still the thoughts and noises – the what if’s and shoulda been’s – that incessantly race through our brain. It beckons us to step through the doorway of separation and into the dancehall of the Universal, the One, the Source of all that is.
My dropping the needle on the record was also an act of defiance, a call to the realm of initiation, as it would grant me, if only for this moment, the freedom to shut out the madness erupting on the streets below and stay in my luminous cocoon of serenity for just a few breaths more. I knew the end was near, it was long past obvious. I could literally feel the heat from the raging fires outside beginning to warm my bare skin, and the power was starting to flicker on and off. The many voices hollering for deliverance and forgiveness began to ring out like a gospel choir, and the explosions in the distance, like booming steps of a vengeful giant, grew ever more ominous.
As Joni’s voice carried me on its wings, I looked across the room at my beloved Natalie and took my heart-shaped locket in my hand, closed my eyes, and said a prayer of gratitude and peace for all creation. Life would go on, as it always must. But the story of industrial civilization has come to a close. Perhaps, in the coming years, if some of us are lucky enough to survive, we will come together in Reunion and once again celebrate and honor our place in the circle of Life.
I climbed back into bed as A Case of You swirled intermittently around the room. Natalie looked into my eyes with acceptance and love, we kissed, and together dissolved into the dream.