John Kaminski: The Bursting Of The Dam
The Bursting Of The Dam
By John Kaminski
"A dream is a wish that your heart makes. "
— Jiminy Cricket
This is a dream. I am standing in front of a giant dam. The vast expanse of beige concrete stretches across the field of my vision, towers above me. I am dwarfed into utter insignificance. A soft chorus of whispering voices from my past, perched on ledges in the cliffs at the side of the dam, clatters in my ears, telling me to run, urging me to save myself, reminding me of past events. My feet are bolted to the ground. Suddenly a new low rumble begins. The sun glints over the crest of the titanic wall. Then I realize what the voices are saying. The dam is breaking. I am not afraid. I'm not going anywhere.
A huge crack explodes in the middle of the wall. Monstrous torrents of white froth burst through above me. Chunks of concrete and white water in slow motion spew out above me, rain down upon me like a giant hammer, suddenly crush me in their fury as the entire wall collapses and everything around me is swept away. And yet I am still standing there, while the pent up but now freed river races past me, scourging everything in its path. Boulders roll, earth shakes, sirens wail. And still I hear the voices, and remember the awful, awesome sound of the dam first cracking, like an echo in the heart, like Armageddon's song.
In addition to the other voices of my past, I hear the welter of new voices in the flood, all warning me to flee, to hide, lest I be swept away like them in the torrent of the unleashed river, and destroyed by the fury of once-imprisoned but now liberated natural forces that crushed the dam into pulverized dust and murky mud. But I am still standing there, listening intently to these new voices as they rush past me in the maelstrom.
Beneath the water, in a blue green turmoil of washing machine chaos, I see like passing souls tiny bubbles speaking, all with urgency. The first group of bubbles has a golden glow about them.
"Take care for your soul," the first ones seem to say. "Adhere to your holy books, they will get you through and keep you safe. And you will find tranquil glory with your father in heaven."
I smile at their concern, and wonder passively where it exactly is that they are going, and what they will do there.
The second group of talking bubbles, bouncing angularly in the torrent mixed with chunks of concrete, seems less urgent, more benign, less panicked, somewhat placid. "We are passing to where we began," they chant serenely. "We will choose where we return to the sea of life, but at any time we may escape to the light and sing happily in the lovely air forever. Bye bye, fare well, see you again soon," they seem to say.
The third wave of bubbles, muddy colored and arranged in some kind of mathematical order as they flow past, seem to be wearing — wow — neckties! Hey, it's only a dream. Some even wear sunglasses! They speak to me in a low, confidential tone, with an implied threat of certain power. "Don't tell anybody about this," they dictate, "or you could be in real trouble. You will be debriefed at a later time."
I shake my head and chuckle. I should have known this was a government project. But I ponder a riddle: was it the bursting of the dam that was a government project, or the entire dream itself? Neither, I finally decide. No government would ever tell me to resist all the power it could throw at me and just persevere until the crisis was past.
And then I ask: is this a message from God? I wonder for a moment and surmise: certainly not the God talked about by all religions, which try to get you to believe He said something to someone that was supposed to apply to everyone else, and should be followed obediently no matter what the circumstances actually were. The Lockstep God. No, this message wasn't from him, but it might yet have come from the real God, who speaks directly to everyone in times of peril without the necessity of intermediary priests.
In fact, that's the real difference between the real god that everybody can talk to at any time (especially on airplanes in bad weather) and the fake god tossed around by fools in vestments who are trying to make big money (and succeeding) off people who need to believe some magical being created them and is always protecting them.
And so the dam let its watery prisoner past. The flood subsided, the bubbles flicked away into the sunny air and liberated the voices from my head. And I stood there, extremely damp but unhurt, having lived through the crisis of my own desire, having heard the messages of everyone I've ever known as well as everyone I ever would know (remember, it's a dream), I remained unchanged, mute, knowing that I was in the right place at the right time, did what I had to do, was proud of it, was proud that I did not take the easy way and accept someone else's version of the truth but instead forged my own, did my best to help others solve the ever-present puzzles, and in the end accepted no one's advice but my own.
The danger of the bursting dam destroying me did not bother me so much as maybe missing the chance to know why it was bursting. It was bursting, as all dams will one day burst, because humans tried to chain mother nature, and she will not be chained, no matter what the holy books say.
So if that lesson were to have cost me everything, it would not have been too high a price to pay.
It's not that I don't have much to lose, for, after all, I am in love with life and cherish each moment as if it were my last. But if the bursting of the dam would have been my last, I would have known I had been true to myself and those I love, and for those and other reasons, I also have much than can never be taken away.
And then suddenly I awoke, and knew what I had to do, and did it, while there was still time.