Seven sorrow checks for lucidity in either dreaming or waking states

Image by M. Maria Walhout

Sorrow: noun (countable or uncountable) expressing an event, instance, feeling or expression of distress, or verb (transitive or intransitive) expressing the feeling or displaying of distress, caused by loss, disappointment or other misfortune; from Middle English sorow, sorwe, from Old English sorg, from Proto-Germanic *surgō (sorrow, worry, care), from Proto-Indo-European *swerg- (to watch over, worry; be ill, suffer). 

A check is there to help you confirm your reality. A check may be just that: a confirmation. But a check may also get you started on a journey. Always perform checks with the assumption that you are in charge, and with an unsure mind towards reality. Remember that a world seen through tears is wetter, more sacred. Remember that your body is a water body, and that reality cannot help but feel.

 

THE HEART 

Start by asking yourself: am I dreaming? Touch the index and middle finger of your left hand to the palm of your right hand. Do you sense touch? It is important that you do. Keep checking until you are aware that you do. Now place the palm of your right hand over your heart. Is it pierced by swords? If yes, how many? Ask yourself: am I dreaming?

 

 

THE TREE

You are sitting underneath a tree. Ask yourself: am I dreaming? With the thumb and index and middle finger of your left hand, touch your right clavicle. Notice any sensation along your left forearm. You are holding a child. It is too young to speak. Look up to the tree under which you are sitting. Does it bear fruit? Does the fruit arouse a sense of longing or hunger in you? What does the fruit represent? 

See if the tree can bend down to offer you its fruit. Is this the child’s doing? As you eat of the fruit, ask yourself: what is the child feeling? Am I in danger because of this child? Or is the child in danger because of me? What does the child represent? 

Check if you can eat and speak at the same time. Ask yourself (out loud if possible): Am I dreaming?

 

THE HANDS

Ask yourself: am I dreaming? Touch the index and middle finger of your left hand to the palm of your right hand. Do you sense the touch of another hand? Is it a child’s hand? 

Let go of your hand. Is it the child’s hand that has left yours?

Look up. Can you still see the child? Or is it lost? Can you see the faces of others? Ask them if they have seen the child. See if it is possible for you to run. Run to find the child. If you manage to find the child, ask it: am I dreaming?

 

THE WEIGHT

A person passes by. Ask them if you are dreaming. They cannot answer you. Are you feeling anxious? Ask yourself if what you are feeling can be expressed. Did the person passing by look at you? They are carrying something. You cannot help them carry it. Is it heavy? What is it? Is the heaviness of what they are carrying a metaphor for your emotions, or theirs? See if you can journey along with them. Now, see if you can leave them. When you can no longer see the person, ask yourself: am I dreaming? Allow yourself to hope that you are.

 

 

THE WEIGHT, II

Ask yourself: am I dreaming? Touching the index finger of your right hand to the palm of your left hand, consider the last time you have felt a heavy emotion. Massage your palm and try to feel into that heaviness. Now, see if you can consider that heaviness lifted. See if you can consider a reality without any pain. Look to your right. Is the person standing there now your family? Ask them: are we dreaming?

 

THE OTHER

There is another body present with yours. You cannot (anymore) ask it if you are dreaming. You are overwhelmed with emotion. What does this body represent? See if you can cry and speak at the same time. Look at your hands. Do they look normal? Are you looking through teary eyes?

Softly press the ring and little finger of your right hand into the palm of your right hand, while holding your other fingers together. Do you ever feel like all those who love you, may desert you? Ask yourself: am I dreaming? Am I even asleep?

See if you can become aware that the world is crying with you. See if you can make rain appear to symbolise the pain of the world. Think about the ocean.

 

THE SLEEPER

You are aware that you are awake, because there is another there who is sleeping. Look at your hands. Do they look normal? Are they not also wounded? Strongly press your ring and little finger into the palm of your hand, while holding your other fingers together. Do you feel like all those who love you, have left? 

Look at the one who is sleeping, and then quickly back to your hand. Did your grief change? Or do you feel the same? Ask yourself: am I dreaming?

You are aware that you are not yet dreaming. Walk past the tomb. Imagine yourself walking down an endless set of stairs, into the water, into the body, into the pain, into the tears, into the sorrow, into the weight, into the hollow, into the loss, into love, into the river, into the sea, until you finally fall asleep.

 

 

 
 

Words and images by M. Maria Walhout


M. Maria Walhout is an artist and writer whose practice engages with queer and christian knowledges and practices. They are interested in the im/possibilities of language and the body for un/making sense, and the instability of everything.

 

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