Image by Gerd Altmann
Chapter One: CONFUSION
"Oh, my God, he's dead!"
I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cry, or if I felt relieved. I had to go into the house to tell my mother, "Dad's dead".
My name is Dillon and this is a story of how I woke from the dream of the world -- a trance which controlled my thinking, my behavior, my relationships, and my future -- a trance which affected every aspect of my life, and a trance of which I was completely unaware.
A shocking sequence of events took place in my life when I was seventeen. One day, during an argument with my father, I lost my cool. I shouted at him, "Why don't you just drop dead!" I turned and walked away with him still yelling at me. My father had always seemed angry and somehow disappointed with me. He put me down constantly and never had anything encouraging to say.
Two days later my father had a heart attack in our driveway. I ran to him and began doing CPR to the best of my ability. I was giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when I thought I felt him take his last breath. His body went limp as that last breath was released into my own mouth. He was gone. I knelt there, still holding onto his lifeless shoulders, his gray face with blank eyes staring back at me.
Tears of Confusion
The few tears I shed were tears of confusion. A part of me felt sad he was dead. Another part of me was glad. What a relief it was that this man I had so greatly feared was out of my life forever. Or so I thought.
I tried to not think about it and spent my time hanging out with my friends. We were caught up in our own world of partying and never talked about dreams, or feelings, or the past. The whole awful scene, and my role in the drama, left me in an internal state of shock. I dared not tell anyone what I was going through.
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A short time after, I began having the same dream over and over again. It seemed so real. I dreamed I was standing at the entrance to our living room. My dad sat on the couch. He was dead, but no one would tell him. He didn't even know it himself. It was my responsibility to tell him he was dead. I was too scared. Every time, just as I was about to tell him, I'd wake up in a cold sweat.
My father was still alive inside of me, it seemed. I could hear his voice in my head telling me I was not good enough, and I believed it. It was as if his voice had become a part of my own voice.
I didn't like myself. I didn't like how I felt, or what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I worried about what others thought of me. No one was aware of it because I played a great game and knew how to act cool. Inside, though, I was hurting. I was confused. I didn't know who I really was, or what life was all about. I just wanted to be liked.
One night I was out with some friends and we were drinking liquor Fred had taken from his father's liquor cabinet. His father was always drunk when I saw him and he never figured out that his son was stealing his booze. We went out for a ride in Fred's Volkswagen Bug. Fred couldn't have walked a straight line, let alone drive a car.
Usually I would sit up front with Fred, and another friend, Bill, would take the back seat. But this time I decided to be a nice guy and give up my front seat to Bill.
There was a green light, but no green arrow. Fred was so drunk he couldn't tell the difference. He made a left turn across the highway without yielding to oncoming traffic. I looked over my right shoulder and saw headlights in my face. The impact of the collision completely crushed the passenger-side door. Time came to a standstill. In an instant I saw everything that had ever happened in my life flash before my eyes. My injuries put me in the hospital for ten days. Bill didn't make it.
By this time, my mother and I were not getting along very well at all. School was out for the summer and she did not approve of the crazy guys I was hanging around with. I tried to explain to her, with them was where I believed I best fit in. I knew she was in pain over the death of my father, and was struggling to work a full-time job to make ends meet. Still, we argued over even the smallest of things.
Late one night it hit me all at once. It was my fault Bill was dead. I had given him my seat. I was tormented by the thought that somehow I was also responsible for my own father dying. The pain was unbearable. I was completely in despair. From somewhere deep in my gut a voice was screaming for help. I cried, "God -- who, what and wherever you are, help me! Help me to make sense of all this pain I'm feeling!"
Everything suddenly became very still. It reminded me of the quiet on a snowy day when everything is covered in white. A wave of peace like I had never felt before came over me. A face came into my mind, as crisp and clear as any image could be. It was the face of a white-haired bearded old man. There were dark streaks in his hair and beard. His eyes were clear and glimmering. His presence was comforting. He smiled and said, "I am Grandfather".
I couldn't believe the games my imagination was playing with me. I wanted to believe this was some kind of sign that maybe something good was going to happen. As the days passed, though, I doubted it more and more. Life went on as usual and I was more confused than ever.
Chapter Two: THE WAY IS PREPARED
My mother's growing concern finally prompted her to confide in her friend, Prema, an old woman she'd met at the grocery store. She told Prema about the friction between us, and about my refusal to see a counselor. She explained her fears about the dead-end track I was on, and of the hurt and anger I was trying to hide. The constant worry and physical stress brought about by our arguments was keeping her up nights.
Prema suggested that maybe what I really needed was an opportunity to get away from the city for awhile, and that perhaps spending some time with nature would allow me to get to know myself in a deeper way. She told my mother about a remote cabin in the mountains that she and her husband, Sage, had built for themselves for that very reason.
Sage was getting old, she said, and had been looking for someone to help out with repairs on the cabin. He had postponed his plans to put in some new fences and build a shed because he had not been able to find anyone who was available to work. She suggested to my mother the possibility of my spending the rest of the summer with Sage at the cabin. It would cost me nothing to stay there, she said, and I could even make a little money.
My mother told her I would never agree to such a plan, and that prying me away from my friends would be impossible.
This was on a Friday evening and I was downtown with a group of guys hanging out across from an all-girl's private school. I didn't realize one of the crazy guys in the group was picking a lock and trying to break into a store that was closed for the day. An alarm tripped and everybody ran. Stupid me -- when I heard the alarm, I walked over to see what it was.
At that moment, a police car pulled up and a police officer looked me straight in the eye. I knew they would think I had broken into the store. I thought I had better run. Fortunately I can run fast when I'm scared. With every step, though, I had the sickening feeling I was going to be busted for something I hadn't done.
I made it all the way home, but the police were patrolling the neighborhood and I knew they were looking for me. My mother was, of course, surprised to see me home so early and wanted to know what was up. I couldn't bring myself to tell her what had happened, and tried desperately to change the subject. I mumbled something about getting out of town for awhile. What a stupid thing to say! I thought. It was impossible. We couldn't afford any trips, and besides, where else was there to go?
I looked up and saw that my mother had a big smile on her face. It was the first time I had seen her smile in months. Then she told me about Prema and their conversation earlier that evening. It sounded like a crazy idea -- hanging out with some old geezer out in the middle of nowhere. But I knew I had no choice. Getting out of town sounded like a good idea, so I agreed to give it a try.
Chapter Three: ARRIVAL
The next morning Prema stopped by with a map and directions of how to find the cabin, which they had named Stillpoint. I was feeling uneasy after a restless night filled with dreams of cops chasing me. I kept telling them I hadn't done anything, but they chased me anyway.
I threw some clothes in a backpack. I slipped into my mother's car with a hat pulled down over my eyes. When at last we passed through the city limits, I felt a tremendous weight lift from my shoulders. I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
After a few hours of driving, my mother dropped me off at the end of a dirt road. There wasn't a house, or even another person, anywhere in sight. I had to walk up a winding trail to get to Sage's cabin. It was a great feeling walking through the forest. I was alone, and free. No cops would ever find me out here.
It was late afternoon when I approached the cabin. I saw an old man on the front porch sitting in a rocking chair. As our eyes met, I stopped, dead in my tracks. I shook my head in disbelief. There was no denying that Sage was the white-haired old man whose face I had seen when I had cried out to God for help. He even had the black streaks in his gray hair and beard. I began to shake. This can't be, I thought. My mind must be playing tricks on me again.
"Welcome, Dillon," he said. "Grandmother Prema told me you might be coming."
"You're Grandfather Sage," I said.
"Yes, Dillon. Some people call me Grandfather. "
"I had a dream and I thought I saw a face that looked just like you."
"Well, isn't that a coincidence," he said. "I saw you in a dream too, and now here you are, right before my eyes."
I wondered if he was making fun of me.
"What should I call you?" I asked.
"You can call me whatever you like."
"How 'bout if I just call you 'Gramps?' "
"That will be fine, Dillon. If I am your grandfather, then that would make you my grandson." He walked over and put his hand on my shoulder. "You know, Dillon," he said, "you are a student of life, just like I am. Welcome to the Stillpoint schoolhouse. Welcome to the classroom of life."
These chapters are excerpted with permission
from An Awakening From the Trances of Everyday Life
by Ed Rubenstein.
Book has been re-released in 2018 as:
The Gift of Unconditional Love: Fulfilling the Spiritual Dimension of Life
by Ed Rubenstein, Ph.D.
This book was written as a tool for understanding that an open heart is the safest place to be, and the key to our happiness and fulfillment. Deep in our hearts, we all know it’s time to let Love give us the best of the best so that we can awaken to be who we truly are. This is meant to be a natural process so that we can fulfill the spiritual dimension of life and live how we are designed to be. In order to integrate important key life lessons explored in the book, fifty self-reflection questions are included and can be enjoyed individually, in book clubs, or as part of a group designed to enhance well-being and spiritual fulfillment.
About The Author
In high school Ed Rubenstein was told by his guidance counselor, "You're not college material. Don't bother applying." Ed chose not to take ownership of that label and today Dr. Ed Rubenstein is a practicing psychologist with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Florida State University. He also holds Masters degrees in Spiritual Studies and Rehabilitation Counseling. Ed lived in the remote Himalayan regions of Nepal and Northern India for nearly three years. He has taught personal and spiritual growth strategies for over 20 years. He has worked with people from all walks of life in university, hospital, and community settings, who have been profoundly affected by the teaching he represents. He is co-founder of the Heart Based Institute. Find out more at https://heartbased.org/