The Dream of the Canoe

Last night I had a dream.

In the relevant part of the dream, I was walking along a river where I was supposed to meet my father. My older brother had arranged for us to ride down the river in a canoe carved from a single tree trunk by an indigenous elder. Every year, they would carve a canoe and then ride down the river on a vision quest. At the end, they would leave the canoe to whatever fate it might experience.

But I was having trouble finding where I was supposed to be, and it took so long to find the meeting place that my father had already left. When I found the canoe at the launch site, it contained three white college boys who were just having fun rowing it all around the fork just above the meeting place. I asked for the canoe, and they laughed, got out of it, and turned it over, setting it adrift out of my reach.

When I woke up, I felt a deep sense of calm and clarity. I was where I was supposed to be because I was where I was. There was neither joy nor sorrow in this realization: There was simple acceptance.

It may help to know that, in real life, my older brother teaches in a predominantly indigenous population in rural Saskatchewan. He was recently telling me about a spiritual event involving building a sweat lodge from scratch (I hope I’m using the correct words here). After the event, the lodge is abandoned to the elements.

I have been thinking lately about seeking joy and the attitude that happiness is the goal. I haven’t been quite able to put my finger on why that bothers me. In that moment of calm, and reflecting on it now, I realize that my goal is not happiness, it is peace. It is that serene calm of knowing that I have done what I can do and been who I can be and everything else is on the rest of the world.

Forget your bliss. Find your peace.

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