by Robert Alan Silverstein
I awoke in a familiar haze, vaguely recalling an angelic voice whispering in my ear. Confused, unconnected feelings drifted in the back of my mind just out of reach, leaving me slightly puzzled but feeling comfortably pleasant.
As the memories of the dreams I'd been visiting drifted and slipped further away, the world began to slowly materialize, intact with a vague recollection of a reality that must be my own.
At first I didn't remember that I was on the train. But after a moment I began to recognize the sound of the tracks clicking rhythmically beneath me. I felt the sensation of moving forward. I couldn't remember where it was we were going. Then again, I couldn't remember where we'd been, either.
The rolling fields and hills and cows and streams that rushed by outside the window didn't help me locate myself at all. I sighed and turned away from the view. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I'd seen my father, in the seat across from me, watching me carefully as I drifted out of my dreams. As if he were trying to read them to see where I'd been. But as I turned to look at him, his eyes were closed. I listened a moment to his nasally breaths, marveling at how much in tune they were with the beat of the train tracks.
I sighed again and turned to look at Mama beside me. She'd been staring off into space, but she sensed my gaze, and turned to look at me, silently. There was a question in her eyes. An odd feeling of uneasiness washed over me. I blinked and smiled awkwardly. Mama's eyes warmed and she smiled. Suddenly, everything was alright. I felt peaceful and calm. Mama's smile widened when she saw the calm in my eyes.
The train rolled on. I began to drift off again. My dreams were awaiting me. I rushed to greet them and the peace they offered.
We were still on the train when I opened my eyes again a few minutes later. I felt completely there this time. Like I belonged with Mama and Dad right there on the train. But I still couldn't remember where we were going. It didn't bother me. It never bothered me anymore. We were always going somewhere new. But then, I could figure out where we were headed if I really tried. After all, we were always chasing my dreams. All I had to do was think hard and make myself remember where it was my dreams had taken me to lately. All I had to do was make myself remember how I had described those dreams to Mama and Dad the last few Sessions.
Because that's how it's been the last few years. Actually, since I was ten, I think. I'm not sure. I think it was ten, because I don't remember much before then. Actually, I don't remember anything before then. I just woke up one day and this was the life I was living.
Yes, for three years now we've been chasing my dreams. They've never really told me why. And I've never really thought to ask. I don't know why I haven't asked. It's just that this is what we've always done.
I see some place in my dreams. It's never totally clear, at least when I awake. But we sit together and I describe it as well as I can. And I dream of it again and again, night after night. And each morning my memory is a little clearer. My descriptions are a little more vivid. This goes on until they've figured out where it is that I've been going in my dream. They search all their maps and files and charts they carry with them, and then we go there, to that place I've dreamed.
When we arrive together I always have the strangest sensation. My dream-memories are suddenly so clear and vivid that I could swear I've been there before. But I never have. Except in my dreams.
And of course the minute we get there I start to "remember" somewhere new. And every night that new place becomes just a little clearer. And we sit together again and try to figure out where exactly my dreams are telling us to go.
I used to wonder where we were going. Not the next place, or the stop afer that, but where all this dreaming and traveling will eventually lead us to. I don't really wonder anymore. We've never talked about it, but after all this time, and all the places my dreams have taken me, and led us to together, well, I get the strongest feeling that it's all part of some process -- that I'm honing my ability to find "a particular" place -- some special place.
It has gotten so much easier over the years. It used to take me months to remember a dream clearly enough so that we could find it. Now it takes only a few nights at most. I get the feeling that someday soon I'll be able to close my eyes and clearly imagine any place at all. Or some very private place that no one has yet imagined. I get the feeling that I'm being "trained" for that very purpose.
I've almost thought out these thoughts before. But I never let myself question anything. I love my dreams too much to question them. I love the feeling of sharing with Mama and Dad in our Memory Sessions. The bond we share is a warm, safe, intimate feeling that I've always been afraid that questions would destroy.
Why were Questions haunting me today?
I guess it all started when I looked into her eyes this morning. That girl up the aisle on the train. She was about my age, and traveling with her parents, too. But her eyes were so troubled and sad. The questions began every time I gazed over at her. I felt like she was calling out to me. Begging me to help her.
The truth is, I was afraid to look at her. I felt like I knew her, though I'm sure we've never met. I felt like she would bring me somewhere I don't want to go. But I couldn't help looking over at her again and again.
Then she started fluttering her eyes, like parents do to a baby when they want it to fall asleep. Like Mama and Dad do with me. How did she know it always works with me.
She was there, as I knew she would be, when I drifted off into Dreams. "Ward," she whispered, ever so softly so that I could barely hear her. "Please, help me escape these Dreams they're making us dream."
I didn't know what she was talking about. I didn't know who she was or why she had called me Ward. That's not my name! But something in me was speaking before I realized what was happening. Something in me came to life. "I'll help you Regina," I assured her, and I gently took her hand.
I remembered a dream-place I'd never shared with Mama and Dad. A special, wonderful place I knew she'd be safe. It was easy to find my way back on the trail. I made sure that no one could follow us. I made sure to cover our tracks so that no one ever could. Unless Regina wanted them to.
She peeked inside the door to the Dream when we arrived, and then she turned to me and smiled. "Peacetopia! I thought I'd never see it again. Thank you, Ward. I'll never forget this. Why don't you come with me? It's wonderful there. You can escape, too."
I gazed inside and the world that greeted my eyes warmed my heart with a gentle, sustaining joy, as it did the first time I'd stumbled upon this place. It was a time when all live in balance with each other and the world around them. Where all worked together to bring joy and fulfillment to each other. Where no one was ever alone in their hopes and dreams.
It was beautiful, but I could never belong there without my parents, and my purpose, which I had not yet fulfilled. She understood without a word spoken. Then we heard the distant rumbling, and we knew we were out of time.
"Thank you, Ward," she whispered distantly as I erased that place from my mind so that no one could ever find her.
I awoke with a start. Mama and Dad seemed very upset. "Shhh... Roger," Mama whispered. It was a warning. My head was spinning and confused. Roger, the name they'd called me, didn't seem to fit. Was that my name? The train didn't seem real at all. It kept drifting in and out of focus as I tried to picture Regina reaching that safe place. And yet, I couldn't help notice the bustle and confusion all around me.
There were police everywhere and the girl's parents -- Regina's parents -- were frantic. "She's gone..." I heard them say. Nervously I looked up at Mama. She didn't seem to suspect me at all. I wanted to tell her, but her eyes told me not now. Her eyes told me I was in danger. Both my parents huddled closer to me, and held me tightly. "Now, Roger," they whispered, "Dream NOW!"
I don't think I ever Dreamed them into my dreams before. And yet, here the three of us were, huddled in a place InBetween Dreams and Reality. They were both smiling, but I could see they were hiding their fear. Dad reached into his jacket and held something out in his hand.
"It's okay," Mama assured me with a hug. "Take it..."
I reached my hand out and Dad placed something warm into it. It was a golden coin that shone brightly. Dad put his hand on my shoulder as he and Mom searched through the emptiness around us. I studied the coin carefully. There was a dove in the center and around it the word PEACETOPIA. I flipped it over and in the center was a double infinity loop surrounded by the words MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH.
"He's not ready yet," I heard Dad say as I flipped the coin over and over in my hand.
"There's no more time to prepare him," Mama whispered. "And I do think he's prepared enough for the next stage."
The unspoken volumes beneath their words shook me with horror. I knew we were about to say goodbye. I didn't want to leave them, ever.
In the distance I heard a faint rumbling. We all heard it.
Dad sighed and there was a tear in his eye. He put his arm around Mama and me. We huddled there as the rumbling grew closer. "It's time for you to leave us and to go to the next place, Ward," Mama breathed, barely whispering at all.
"We'll be together again... we promise ... we love you, Ward," they both whispered.
Tears started to fill my eyes. "I don't want to go," I choked, wanting to scream it out but afraid to even whisper.
"You'll be fine," Mama whispered and they held me tighter. Somehow, I knew she was right, but I still felt terrible.
"Say what was on the coin," Dad whispered urgently.
"May peace prevail on earth," Mama began, chanting it slowly. Dad joined in. They said it again and again. I whispered the words reluctantly, holding onto my parents as tight as I could.
"MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH..."
When I opened my eyes I was still standing there in that place INBetween. Mama and Dad weren't there. I couldn't believe they were gone. I didn't want to believe they were gone.
But I wasn't alone. There was an angel with her wings around me, protecting me. And the rumbling was gone. I looked up into the angel's face and saw familiar eyes. "Maya," I whispered, recognizing my guardian angel instantly, but I had no idea when or where I'd ever seen her before. Did I know her in one of my dream places?
Maya smiled and led me through the Night to the Dawn that broke over the tops of a mighty fortress. Her delicate wings unwrapped me from their embrace, but I still felt their warmth.
Without a word, Maya kissed me on the forehead, then smiled and her hand pointed to the opening gates. Another friendly face was there, smiling to greet me.
"Welcome, Ward," he whispered, "To the Peacetopian School."
"Wizard Weimar," I gasped, recognizing him instantly, too, but as with Maya, with no memory of how I knew him. Then a sadness swept over me, for I knew that as he led me inside the Gates, Maya had already disappeared and another link to my past was gone.
I hate to admit it, but I nearly completely forgot about everything from my past by the time I lay down to sleep that evening. I had not really thought of anything except what was right in front of me the entire day. As I lay there in the stillness of the night, I could barely remember the warmth of Maya's wings. I could only faintly see Mama and Dad's smiling faces as I lay in my new bed staring into the darkness. I tried to force their images into my mind's eye, but I felt them pulling further away. So far that I could barely remember that they had ever existed. Far away, I felt them gently whisper that we would be together again, but for now, I must not let any of my past reach me here beyond the Gates of the Peacetopian School. And then they were gone completely from my memory.
I lay there thinking about the day. It was the most amazing day of my life. When I arrived I was bubbling with excitement. The School felt so familiar. I knew instantly that this was exactly where I belonged. I knew that here I would become all that I was meant to be.
Wizard Weimar led me to the Dining Hall where a hundred other children had already begun eating. They welcomed me warmly as I joined them. As I looked into their eyes I felt a deep kinship with each and every one of them. They were all like me in many ways. They understood me. And I understood them. I knew that we would all share so much together.
After lunching on the most amazing food I'd ever tasted, we wasted no time in getting down to the reason we'd all come to this place. Wizard Weimar, the School's HeadMaster spoke from up on the dias. His voice was barely a whisper, and yet the Hall was so silent that all one hundred children heard him perfectly clearly.
Wizard Weimar told us the story of the Circle of Peace, an ageless Society of dreamers that had always existed throughout time. He told us that humanity was evolving towards a higher consciousness and that someday the world would live in peace. The Circle has been helping to guide humanity towards the day when peace will prevail on earth. Quietly, without anyone knowing of its existence, the peacemakers of the Circle have been planting seeds and visions of seeds and visions of Peacetopia, helping humanity to envision a world at peace.
"For you see," Wizard Weimar whispered, "Peacetopia already exists... somewhere in some reality. The Circle of Peace has been helping humanity to look beyond the illusions of the infinite number of realities we have all created, to focus on the ONE reality where peace on earth exists...
"The truth is that although the Peacemakers of the Circle hold the vision of Peacetopia in their hearts, none have ever seen it clearly enough ... it has been a fleeting vision of hope throughout eternity. But when we of the Circle of Peace are able to clearly focus on the reality of Peacetopia, we will join together and bring that vision to humanity... For when that peacetopian vision is able to be seen clearly by all, it will transform ALL realities and peace on earth WILL be all that there is...
"You, our new initiates, have been chosen by the Circle because of your gifts of vision. Each of you has glimpsed Peacetopia. Each of you has the potential to grasp that dream and focus upon it so that together we will make that dream come true. The teachings of this School will help you to hone your abilities to find that peacetopian dream and focus on it so that peace on earth will come to all beings that have ever existed ...
"You have traveled far, from many times in the distant past and the furthest reaches of the future to this timeless place where all that exists is NOW. Here we will discover Peacetopia together. We will envision it so clearly that all reality will be transformed. The interconnectedness of all life and the ONENESS of humanity will be revealed and the gap between the so-called mundane and the spiritual will be bridged when we uncover the reality of Peacetopia... together..."
Wizard Weimar closed his eyes and paused, breathing deeply. No one moved a muscle.
"I will introduce you to your teachers, but first let's join together in our shared universal prayer and wish for all..." He breathed deeply again, and together everyone whispered the words, "May Peace Prevail On Earth..."
As we did so, every cell in my body trembled in anticipation and excitement. I felt billions of living souls throughout time joining with me in this hope and wish as the breath of my words drifted up into the Great Hall.
"May Peace Prevail On Earth..." we whispered again and the words echoed in a billion, billion harmonic voices. I felt like my life was complete in that moment, that I would be unable to live another day after having experienced the awe and wonder that I'd just felt.
But after another moment of absolute silence, Wizard Weimar was speaking to us again in his gentle whisper. As I listened to the words I felt that symphonic chorus of a billion souls echoing each syllable.
Wizard Weimar introduced our teachers one by one and each of them outlined the course they would be teaching us. There were classes about magic and myth, lore and fables. There was Dreams of the fairy kingdom where fairies and humans live in harmony and Dreams of the angelic realm where a hierarchal host of angelic beings have been waging a battle of good and evil behind the scenes throughout human history. They all sounded so fascinating and exciting, but the most interesting part of it all was that we wouldn't be taught about these subjects through books or boring lectures. We would be visiting these realms through Dreaming.
I lay there that evening too excited to sleep as I thought about all of the amazing places we would all visit together in our Dreams. This was more than I could ever have imagined possible. To share in Dreaming in all of these wonderful places with so many people just like me. Surely we would discover the perfect dream of peace on earth in one of those places. I couldn't see how we wouldn't discover it that very night when we drifted off to our Dreams.
But we didn't discover Peacetopia that evening. In fact, eight years of Dreaming went by in the blink of an eye. We visited every imaginable realm conceivable. We found so many amazingly beautiful and wonderful dreams. But none of them was the perfect dream of peace on earth. None of them was the vision that would transform all realities.
And then, without warning, as I was gazing into Wizard Weimar's eyes during one of our private tutoring sessions, I saw a young girl on a train from a memory I had forgotten, and I followed her along a dream trail I had once upon a time tread, and she beckoned me on, whispering silent words of hope that only I could understand.
Then the next instant I saw only the lines in Wizard Weimar's eyes. But he knew what I'd seen. He smiled warmly at me. "Tonight, Ward, tonight you will Dream and we will all be with you, and we will join as ONE and share that place with Humanity, and Reality will be transformed."
I trembled with excitement. This was the MOMENT we had waited for. This is the MOMENT that all existence has awaited.
"It may not be easy, though," Wizard Weimar sighed. "There are many forces in many realities that do not wish this MOMENT to be. But we will be with you, Ward..."
The School was filled with a great excitement that evening as we shared our last meal together and we gazed into each other's eyes and thought about all of the wondrous things we'd shared over the past eight years. "This is only the beginning," we assured each other, "And the New Reality will be more wonderful than any of us can imagine."
That night I closed my eyes, and listened for the voice that only I could hear. I could faintly see the trail, and then I heard my angel's voice, guiding me on towards the perfect Dream of Peacetopia that I had known all along. But as I walked on, other whispers drifted through the haze, distracting my focus. I paused a moment, closed my eyes and felt the strength of all of the Dreamers of the School whispering, urging me onward. The whispers roared all around me. I sighed deeply, resolutely, and walked on.
From the novel, Utopian Dreamer by Robert Alan Silverstein