In my late forties, early fifties, I had many dreams about giant waves, getting bigger and closer, and finally engulfing whatever beach structure I was in at the time. Sometimes it was a domicile, sometimes it was a commercial structure, sometimes there were other people, sometimes I was alone, but every time there were the giant waves, approaching doom, inexorable, finally winning out and destroying the structure and me, I remember the repeating locations and the taste of fear and salt water. Impending doom dreams.
I had one last week, the first one in quite a while, but with a twist. This time, the approaching doom was one big wave, but it was stopped, frozen in place, like one of those old Ando Hiroshige woodblock prints of typhoon waves, with the same little, hook-shaped licks of water coming off the front.
The building this time was my own domicile, not of my choice, I was thinking that it was dangerously close to the edge of the ocean, at the bottom of a shallow hill street on a low bluff on a narrow piece of Pacific beach. My entire family was there, my two sons were both about ten years old, a little strange, there’s actually eight years separating them, but it was a dream after all. My sons are often ten years old in my dreams, that’s right about the time that you lose control of children, sons anyway.
The giant wave was getting closer, inch by inch, growing in size to impossible, giant proportions, looming over the house, and us, me. This was an impending doom dream, a “Sword of Damocles” dream, and the meaning was clear. At my age, there is always doom hanging over me, and all of us, and the range of possible outcomes becomes more-or-less all bad.
It’s all doom, but maybe doom is all any of us have really, at any age. Maybe it’s all just doom, writ large, the human condition.
But this wave was stopped, as though the doom were conditional.
Is doom conditional?