Sent October 4th, 2020


I mentioned in my last letter that I had been stuck for some time on the contents of said letter. However, I omitted some of how I became unstuck.

In my dream, I was joining a group of protesters marching through Seattle toward Cal Anderson Park. A group of us, numbering a few hundred, were walking up Pike Street when we came upon a police barricade placed in our path. A few dozen police stood about 30 yards further up the hill, beginning to don riot gear. The group I was with amassed against the barricade while we waited for what felt like would be an inevitable confrontation with the police.

A young black man standing near to me turned toward me and asked “why are you here?”

I began trying to articulate the importance of these protests, and what it meant to me.

He shook his head. “No. Why are you here?”

Not knowing why my answer was not accepted, I tried again to put into words my feelings about injustices and inequality.

“Bullshit! Why are you here?!”

I tried again. Thinking about what I saw happen to George Floyd. To others. To protesters in Seattle. I tried to put it into words.

“STOP!” Again he interrupted me. “Any moment the police are going to start firing tear gas canisters. DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU’RE HERE?!”

This time, without thinking, I answered with the first thoughts that entered my mind:

“I don’t know. I’m scared. I love my daughter.”

The young man relaxed, seemingly satisfied with my answer. He handed me a mask, told me to stay safe, and disappeared into the crowd.

The dream ended shortly after when the sound of gun shots came from the direction of the police. I woke up with the sensation of electricity flowing through my arms.

The dream reminded me of a koan; a short story, dialog, or question used to provoke the mind during Zen practice. If you’ve ever heard the question “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”, then you know a koan.

Koans are questions or ideas that cannot be understood with the conceptual mind. Koans test our ability to see beyond a world of duality and concepts.

I’ve been continuously reflecting on my dream, wondering if my final answer also pointed at something that exists beyond concepts.

I hope that my Zen teacher visits my dreams again.

And I promise my next letter will be a more mundane update on life.

Until then, stay safe.