The Universal Thump

Sulamith Wulfing

This morning, my beloved younger daughter, who is an academic librarian in Connecticut–right next door to one of the worst sections of the country for COVID-19–said that she had had a dream that her father had died and she was driving South to be with me.  She seemed pretty upset about the dream, and of course we all worry about each other, but I was reminded of some studies I’d read about earlier in my life, studies about the kinds of dreams pregnant women have, terrible dreams of having a baby that is disfigured or terribly ill…and in fact, these studies showed that women who had those dreams (are there any of us who haven’t?) tended to have shorter labors and easier birthing experiences.  It seems that these horrific dreams help us to cope with our fears, in some way.  So I told my daughter about that, and I think it helped some…

It often seems to me that the happiest people have the greatest fears.  My daughter is among these, because she is in love, looking forward to marriage, and she loves her job and her family.  She is afraid of losing it all!  Life can certainly be horrifying, but what can we do but live it and hope for the best?

I have noticed, over many years, that somehow things do tend to work out, but I also notice that they certainly don’t seem to for everyone…or do they?  It is all in the perspective, perhaps.  What can we learn from this?  The conservatives among us would say that if our lives are not optimum–if we are poor or otherwise lacking–it is because we deserve what we get.  They, of course, deserve all their money and good fortune, because they are, in some way, among the righteous.  To my way of thinking, this is leftover dreck from the Judeo-Christian era that is connected with those religions in their organized forms.  In fact, it seems to me that it is very possibly quite the opposite.  We are all getting our share of the “universal thump,” that term coined by Herman Melville, and it is, perhaps, our belief, our perception of it that is really important.

Meanwhile, the Ouroborous continues in  its eternal circle, eating its own tail endlessly….

Let us side with the angels.  They too have their flaws, but we have much to learn from them.

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