About a year ago I had a vivid dream which has stayed with me. These are the details:
I am sitting on a raft that is floating down a dark, tranquil, slow moving river. The raft is large and well constructed, but the wood has aged over untold years. I can smell the old moisture that has dug into the raft beams. The smell is incongruent. It suggests both an open air, fresh forest and a musty, cobwebbed attic. Endlessly tall redwood trees with a countless number of heavy branches arch over the river. The feeling on the raft is not at all claustrophobic, though. Instead, these arching trees form a kind of loving, protective dome over a sacred space. Late afternoon sunlight bleeds through the trees every now and then. The diffused sunbeams form a startling contrast with the grayish green color that predominates. There are no bugs in the sunlight, which is different than would be the case in real life; and when I occasionally manage to glimpse through the thick tree cover into the forest on either side I never see any animal life. The forest is thick, and it feels endless, but it is also incomprehensibly still. There is not even a trace of a breeze, and yet because much of the sun is veiled the air is comfortably cool.
I hear the soft sound of a paddle rhythmically breaking through the river and pushing the raft forward. I see the back of the paddler. He is a tall man dressed in khaki. He has his back turned to me and is standing on the corner bow of the raft. He is staring down the river intently while methodically paddling. From what I can tell the man is middle aged, or slightly older, but he remains as strong as in his youth. He is very capable in handling this river physically and yet is also guided by his own wisdom, so that I sense in him an abiding calm. He is a master of these parts, even though at the same time I understand neither one of us has been down this particular river before this moment.
I am startled by the slow and strong flight of a prehistoric bird. It soars down the side of the river to my left side. Its long and heavy wings almost touch the water when they are at their lowest point. The bird soon passes us on its way into the gray blur ahead. I sense that it is flying through the ages and reappears now and then in dreams.
I stand up and walk over to the paddler. Standing by his side I look over and see that he is Michael Caine. He looks like when the actor appeared in the movies “Dressed to Kill” and “The Island.” He acknowledges me with a subtle nod, but otherwise we do not talk. I follow his gaze and realize that he is looking for an encampment. I intuit that he hopes we can get there before sunset, because the river will be much too black and menacing to sail into the night. I am not at all frightened. The overriding peace prevents any such emotion, but my eyes also search the forest for any indication of a natural dock.
Finally, just as the darkness overtakes us, we both see a stretch of low cut grass on the right side. Michael Caine paddles the raft to the dock, and we step off. He ties the raft to a nearby redwood tree. The river is so calm I sense that the raft would be there still the next morning even if he did not tie it to the tree.
We find a trail that winds through the forest. The trail is little more than thick branches that have been pushed aside, but we are able to make our way up the slope of a muddy hill. We emerge on a plateau several hundred feet above the river. There is an old, rustic retreat center built of redwood logs. A lighted window suggests that dinner already is on the table inside. We hear muddled conversation. We walk quietly to the retreat center to present ourselves to the host.