Last night I had a dream that I was in a car with my dad. He was driving and I was in the passenger seat, and we were having a friendly conversation as we enjoyed the ride together.
We were cruising on the highway when something went terribly wrong. Traffic came to a sudden halt in front of us but my dad didn’t notice. By the time he did, it was too late and a devastating impact was inevitable. As I began to brace myself by turning my body to my right and covering my head with my left arm, my first thought was “Please God, save us.” I remember feeling relieved for a moment, just happy that I got in a final prayer before the crash. It was all happening so slowly, and it appeared I underestimated how much time until the impact. I knew I should quickly pray something else in the those spare moments. Without hesitation I continued my prayer, and my final words were “If you can only save one of us, save my dad.” Then everything went black.
But the dream was not over. The next thing I remember was standing outside of the car with my dad, inspecting it. We were looking for damage. Apparently, we (miraculously) avoided the collision, both of us were fine, and only the back of the car was damaged. Oddly enough, I don’t even think my dad knew how we avoided the accident.
I awoke and meditated on this a bit. It wasn’t the happiest of dreams (obviously), but I think it was meaningful nonetheless. In those final moments of my life, there was no time to think about what I wanted to say. My prayer was instinctive; it was just the first thing that came to mind. There is no way to know how I would have reacted in real life, but the dream was so real that maybe it was accurate. Either way, it got me thinking of something much deeper.
What will be our instinctive responses when we face a tragedy? What emotions will we feel when we face something as scary as death? In my dream, there was actually a kind of peace. At the instant I realized the crash was inevitable and there was nothing I could do, I accepted it almost matter-of-factly, and just uttered a quick prayer as I braced myself.
I’m glad it was instinctive to pray, and I’m glad it was instinctive to ask for my dad to be saved and not for me. In my dream, I was almost certain I was going to die, so to have that sort of unselfish love eased my mind as I awoke, even if it was just in a dream.
My question to you then, is, what will be the nature of your final thoughts? Will they be happy, peaceful, or spiritual, or maybe angry, bitter, or indifferent? Will you be happy with that nature? If not, what are you doing today that will put you in the best position to have the final thoughts you desire? It doesn’t have to be about death, either. Often, we aren’t given adequate time to decide our thoughts or plan our emotions; they come naturally. The question is, then: are we happy with how they come when they come naturally?
I awoke this morning with a sense of relief, happy with the nature of the final thoughts from my dream. But those thoughts were only instinctive because of patterns I’ve established while awake. In other words, the thought patterns we create every day, the things we fill our minds with, and the way we perceive life, will all add up to our instinctive responses when the time comes (in real life, that is; dreams are more arbitrary). We are, after all, creatures of habit, and since we can’t avoid thought, it’s important to develop thought patterns that align most closely with who we are and who we want to become.
In other words…
Cultivate in yourself the kinds of thoughts you want to think when you don’t have time to think!
Photo by krilm