I was at my primary school with my younger daughter – and maybe other family members (I don’t remember clearly). I was telling her about the place we were: my old Grade 1 classroom. Except, the room was no longer there. It was now a paved, open area – adjacent to the rest of the building (which still remained in place).
Some people – presumably the school’s present-day teachers or administrators – arrived. I don’t know if they spoke, but I got the feeling that they wanted us to leave. We weren’t supposed to be there. Maybe they perceived us as a threat (which is understandable, given the crime in our country).
I had this strong urge to talk it out with them. To explain that we meant no harm. That I was only there because I showing my daughter where I learnt when I was her age, over 30 years ago.
In my mind, the many years I spent at the school gave me a sense of entitlement to be there. I had a history – a nostalgic belonging – that these people didn’t have. I was there before them. Long before them. I spent many of my formative years there. The school is ingrained into my identity.
But I don’t know if I actually told them any of that. My morning alarm provided a rude awakening.
When I woke up, I was saddened to have left the dream. The feeling of this dream – including an overwhelming sense of nostalgia – stuck with me even as I lay in bed for a few minutes before getting up. I wished I could go back. I wanted to stay longer.
I remained in that altered state of mind for a while after, as I got on with my morning routine (which played out before everyone else woke up). I knew the feeling would leave at some point, but I appreciated being able to linger in it for so long – even though the potency faded over time.
I was emotional about it, and I don’t exactly know why.
I think it’s because it felt like a heightened spiritual state. It’s a state that I long for and love. I know it. I’ve felt it before – albeit quite rarely. I don’t have the words to describe it eloquently, but part of it is a feeling of blurriness and warmth…being immersed in a different way of being.
And that state, maybe, is what it’s like in Paradise.
And maybe that’s why I long for it. Why love it so much. Because it’s home.
In this world – this life, my state of mind, feelings – it’s all a vehicle for the current phase of my existence. But it’s not home. And that’s why my soul yearns for that final destination – a return to the state I was in during this dream. The state that still lingered on after I woke up.
And I’m not sad or depressed about having to do my time in this world. I am here because I’m meant to be. I know I need to live this life and do what I must. Contribute what I’m supposed to – from helping to raise my kids to all the other responsibilities and roles I hold.
But I still long for home. Home is that state I was in.
And because I felt it, I was overwhelmed with emotional fragility and yearning for it. For it to last. To live in that state permanently, and not have to go back to all the things of this life – where there’s responsibilities, work, and human interactions (which intrude on that state – no matter how close people are, or how much I love them).
In the Islamic tradition, we’re taught that sleep is a minor death. When we go to sleep, our soul actually departs from our body. And when we wake up, it comes back. Nobody knows where the soul goes.
Whichever world my soul went to in this dream, I wasn’t ready to leave it. And that’s why it stayed with me once I woke up. I’m grateful for this rare gift, and I hope to experience it many more times. For my soul to return there again and again – a taste of what’s to come after this is all over, God-willing.