Future Dead Girl

Carr Fire
Photo of the Carr Fire, taken by Ted Goldsmith

It is 113° in Redding, California, and the Carr Fire continues to burn, destroying boats at the marina and buildings to the west, and filling the sky with ash and smoke. Those who haven’t been forced to evacuate stay inside to keep from breathing it in.

Blood-red skies and flickering horizons bring perspective, especially if it’s your family holed up in a motel hoping their home is still their home at the end of it all.

As all fires worth knowing about tend to do, this one leapt out of control quickly. As far as I know there haven’t been any casualties at this time, but there are no guarantees.


A week ago, I dreamed that I died. It wasn’t a dream of monsters chasing me, but it felt as real as those nightmares often do. I was in the liminal space between death and life; time had stopped, the time had come, and I was about to find out what really happens when you die. I only knew it was a dream when I woke up, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“Have you ever almost died?” It’s a question that surfaces on social media and road trips, and like others I have stories I dust off for just such occasions. Those of us who haven’t gotten nearly as close as we think we have laugh about our near-misses, but it’s only a temporary reprieve. I am a future dead girl.

Those who were once living wrote about beautiful and terrible places in their sacred books, but whether they have gone to those places, I don’t know.

We will all die, but we don’t like to talk about it, except in the wispiest of language. Maybe that’s why we love stories of resurrection so much. In fact, I’ll be telling one myself soon, with my fancy editing tools, and with my body. The camera will find me lying on a table, still and gray, then it will move close to my face, and, just as we planned, I will open my eyes.

If only it were that easy.

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To Dream Deeply

photo by mollybob on flickr’s creative commons

A new idea comes to me, a big idea to change everything, a wild idea to throw off the old certainties. “Wrap your mind around this,” it whispers.

And so I do.

My mind snaps to attention with new heart energy, and I’m making this work. Connections fuse and I’m mapping my potential new course. I’m thinking through all the details and logistics and dismantling all the practical problems. I am alive in this, dreaming and drinking in the planning.

I don’t ask these questions, at least not right away: Is this the right thing? Am I ready for this? Is the timing right? Is this you, Lord?

The problem is, by the time I finally get around to asking those questions, I’ve already half-decided to say yes because everything seems so easy and solvable in my mind. How easily I forget that those obstacles aren’t the only ones. If I start to convince myself that the only challenges are logistical ones, I ignore spiritual and emotional realities.

And those spiritual and emotional questions take time. They require stillness. The answers aren’t so easy.

My possibility is beautiful and exciting, but also expensive and fragile and not guaranteed to last or even work.

I don’t want to rip into it like it’s a toy in cheap paper. I don’t want to assume that, because I’ve thought of it and it excites me, it’s made for me and nothing will go wrong and there are no cracks in it or me.

I want to ponder and treasure, to take this possibility in my hands with care and really see it in all of its complexity.

Is it for me? Is it for now? Is it worth the cost?

Dreaming isn’t bad. Getting excited about a possibility isn’t bad. But when it’s a big, potentially life-changing possibility, I don’t want to dream lightly. I want to dream deeply.

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