Following our time in Luxor, the Valley of the Queens and Kings, we boarded our Nile cruise and set off onto my favorite part of the quest. The sites along the Nile and in Southern Egypt have a special quality that, for me at least, has to do with the remote nature of the destinations; they feel less frequented and are a bit wilder and more cloaked in the veil of desert solitude. The time on the Nile begins to engender a very meditative quality with the sensation of big, yet slow movement and the humming of ships engines. One can sit atop the cruise deck with open sky above and watch the shifting borders of the shores on either side of one of the longest rivers in the world. Because the cruise we take goes Southward and the flow of the river is actually to the North, there’s also a strong sense of cosmic time and balance, with the sun rising and setting on both sides, East and West of the ship during the journey. It’s a great pleasure to watch the Moon float through the sky at night and allow ones imagination to wander and play while heading towards Aswan.
It was during this leg of our journey that the young man who was with us started having enormous difficulties. The parallel with the water and the waves in the dream I saw while in New York and being on the river were not lost to me. The situation really came to a head. While we were preparing to go out for a temple excursion, he had a really strong reaction that I can only call a kind of breakdown, or psycho-spiritual crisis. After the episode with the Doctor, it appeared to me that there was an effort on his part to make it look like everything was all right, when it actually wasn’t, which concerned me. I struggled with this, but in a sense there was nothing to be done. At the moment this new emergency came about, I decided that I needed to be clear about my own impressions with the tour leader. Here was a young person who was clearly going through a certain sort of serious meltdown. He was acting a bit paranoid and it seemed that he was worried that we would call in another Doctor. If I were him, I would have been scared too – what a strange feeling to be in a foreign country for the first time and to be reliant on physicians there and on people that one hardly knows. I think part of his stress also stemmed from all the talk of “danger in the Middle East” that gets constantly broadcast on the news, particularly in the wake of the Revolution.
For eleven years I worked in Community Mental Health in San Francisco, so I’ve seen folks in a pretty wide variety of mental, physical and spiritual states that would look highly unusual as well as frightful to a large number of people. This poor guy was really going through something painful and intense, and I suspect it had to do with a variety of factors, including the non-consumption of adequate amounts of water and proper (diet-correct for his condition) food, as well as the effects of withdrawal from marijuana and just plain old homesickness. Nobody else in our group really seemed to know how to relate with this crisis or with the individual undergoing it. Which drives home a few more layers of the meaning of the dreams I’ve shared. The dreams and their experiences prepared me on many levels for dealing with this event in waking life. The dream of the toxic hotel and relocation, in a metaphoric and actual sense ‘came true’.
Through several conversations and truthful interactions, this young fellow eventually decided, with our encouragement, to catch an early flight back to the States. I deeply enjoyed and appreciated our talks as I felt I could see a side of myself in this person who I had the unique opportunity of feeling close and even helpful to. I do regret that he had a struggle as he did and was worried enough myself at times for his well-being, that I suffered some small amount of stress. No less, we were clearly meant to share this adventure together. This conclusion of the crisis fit my own sense of both dreams as they described several elements alongside the unfurling of the trip on a wide variety of levels. Not the least of which accounted for the interpersonal interactions and my own emotional responses to events. I also feel that the dreams addressed an important aspect of my relationship with this youth that describe the spiritual longing and search that compose the backdrop for the experiences as they played out. The mountain image holds within it the challenges of a quest for spirit – who ever said it was easy to make that ascent to the dance floor where earth and sky conjoin? There are several mythic tales that involve the wildness of mountains amid the initiatory quests of seekers no different than our selves on many key levels. In this way we were offered an opportunity to go through something meaningful together.
Our friend made his return flight and also landed in one piece back in the States, without serious incident (in large part thanks to the Egyptian crew at Guardian Travel). He and I are still in contact to this day. I’m grateful for the time we shared and for our struggle together and on our own during that trip. I don’t feel that he took away at all from my experience – rather, I feel I’ve learned much about what matters to me and also how crucial it is to be able to share in the lives of Youth. My young friend taught me many important lessons about the helpfulness and mystery of dreams as well as the usefulness of their application to extra-ordinary everyday encounters under unusual yet familiar circumstances.
There are a few loose ends in all of this, but as I said before – in Egypt, one solution leads to at least one more mystery, and isn’t that how the Song of Life tends to play out, after all is said and done? Besides, the Old Ones say that that’s what the end is all bout – without some loose ends, how could it all begin again and who would care enough to pick them up to start telling another lively story?
*Look for future blog entries exploring other aspects of my three years experience traveling to Egypt to do dreamwork and ceremony alone and with others in that marvelous and beguiling ancient place…
All Blessings, Travis Wernet*