I had a dream.
I had a dream that I was boating across a large lake –
clouds in the sky, and a considerable wind chopping up the mirror.
Looking down at the ripples, I was shocked to see you below, head barely above the surface, treading water.
“Are you ok?!?!” I shouted out to you.
“Yes I’m fine,” you responded, out of breath, struggling to get words out.
“Are you sure? You don’t look okay!”
“Please go on, it’s fine.”
I remained unconvinced.
Our boat circled around you a couple of times. I kept hearing this clinking, and I didn’t know what it was from.
“What’s that noise?” I called out to you.
“What noise?” you responded.
“The clinking noise.”
“There is no clinking noise.”
It went on like this for a while, arguing over whether there was a noise or not.
There was a very clear clinking noise happening.
It was infuriating you were not acknowledging it.
“Just tell me what the damn clinking noise is already!” I said, exasperated.
You shook your head, sighing.
I saw you lean back in the water to float for a moment and thrust your ankle up past the surface to show me a metal anklet cuff, attached to a chain that disappeared beneath the murky water. The cuff had ‘chain of distrust’ engraved on it.
I gasped. “Oh my! What is that?!” I shouted, leaning out over the edge of the boat. “How are you still keeping your head above water?! Does it not drag you down?”
“It’s nothing, really,” you said blithely.
“You’re going to drown!” I shouted, leaning out over the edge of the boat almost dangerously to paddle the water with my hands and get closer to you. I was confused why you weren’t panicking.
“No, I’ll be fine, don’t worry, go on,” you said to me, returning back to vertical and treading water again.
“This is ridiculous! We have to get that off of you or else you’re going to drown! Let me help you get it off!” I struggled to get close enough to you to touch you.
You shook your head and swished the water towards me, drifting away slightly. “This is perfect for me, actually. I don’t like the thought of drifting nebulously in the middle of the lake. I might drown. At least I know I will stay right where I am, I won’t float away and get lost.”
I didn’t understand.
I couldn’t understand.
If you stayed right where you were, you were far more likely to drown than if we got you into the boat. You were alive but it was questionable for how long.
“How long have you been like this?” I asked.
“Oh I don’t know. A lengthy yet indefinite amount of time,” you responded back, as calm as your physical exertion would allow.
“You’re guaranteed to drown if you stay here, you know that for sure. If you get out of these shackles you have a chance at living a real life! Don’t be afraid, I can help you!”
You shook your head in disagreement, unfazed.
“This is so unnatural for you, your life is not intended to be lived here, fighting tirelessly to merely breathe. Your body was not designed to continually struggle against this metal chain dragging you down! You cling to this state that you’re in as if you have no choice in the matter, as if this is somehow the best option. How ludicrous! Let me help you! We’ll get you to land!”
“Oh no no, I shan’t get to land.”
“What?! How do you know you won’t get to land?”
“Oh I just couldn’t possibly… You’re distracting me from treading now, so if you wouldn’t mind…”
I sat back on my haunches in the boat for a moment, overwhelmed and confused. The very thing fighting to pull you down, your chain of distrust, was the same thing – distrust of circumstances and people and the unknown – that was hindering you from getting out of the chains in the first place. We had to get the chain off of you so that you would even be able to see that the chain needed to come off. You wouldn’t understand the necessity for it until it was already done.
“How did you get here?” I asked.
You twisted up your nose for a second, taking a breath. “Someone I knew dragged me out here, chained me to an anchor and pushed it off the edge of the boat.”
“You’re attached to an anchor at the bottom of this?!” I interrupted, ten times more concerned than you were. “We can get you out of this, let me help you!”
You shook your head no. “No no, this is better for me actually. Now no one can ever drag me out here and chain me to the bottom of the lake again! I’m already here. It’s much safer to be here now than where I was, actually” you told me.
Maybe the treading was starting to make you delusional. That couldn’t be a good sign; we didn’t have much time. I stared at you, trying to wrap my mind around this whole predicament. How was I going to get you unchained?
Your hands swishing back and forth made ripples in the water that I stared at. I saw a key on a string attached to your wrist and got excited. “Is that a key?!?!” I shouted, overjoyed. Now we definitely would get you out.
“It’s the key that opens the lock attaching this chain to the anchor” you volunteered passively.
“YOU HAVE THE KEY! YOU CAN SWIM DOWN AND UNLOCK YOURSELF RIGHT NOW IF YOU WANTED TO!” I screamed at you, pleading. “Why haven’t you?! Why aren’t you?!”
You shook your head. “No. I will drown if I swim that far down.”
“You’ll drown if you don’t!!”
You didn’t respond; I let less than one second pass before I said “Okay well let me then. Give me the key – I’m a great swimmer, I’ll let you free” I said, wrenching up my sleeves and pulling my boots off to get ready to dive in.
“No no, that can’t be. If I give you this key, then perhaps you will drop it and then I will never get out of here.”
I became more confused, if that was possible. “But you just said that you’re not going to use it” I questioned.
“Yeah, well… it’s just safer this way. This is my key and my chain and my anchor, and I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me alone now like the others.”
“OTHER PEOPLE SAW THIS AND LEFT YOU HERE?!” I shouted, absolutely livid. How could they possibly do such a thing!
“Please go, before your boat runs out of gas and you’re stuck out here too.”
I pressed my hands to my eyes, absolutely bewildered. Oh the irony, of you worrying about my safety when you were the one chained to the bottom of the lake, treading water to survive. No matter how many salvation tools that had or would come to rescue you, you were the only one capable of getting out of the shackles, and you would never escape, if you continued to refuse help. Your distrust for others was the thing that pinned you to the bottom of the lake and kept you struggling to breathe, rather than living life on the land like you were designed to. Yes others dragged you out here, but now you were the one choosing to cling to chains rather than dive deep and be freed.
The very thing that chained you to the bottom of the lake and impeded the living of a desirable life was the same thing you clung to now.
My heart broke, at your lack of desire to fight.
At your lack of panic.
At your unquestioned acceptance that you would remain in that very spot until you died, and even more so that it was better this way than any other way.
It never occurred to you that you could survive the lake and get to land.
It never occurred to me that you were blind and couldn’t see it.