A Day in a Life: Buffalo Soldier

I read in the news that a white buffalo calf has been born on a farm in Connecticut, a most promising omen in Native American culture. I remember a dream I had months ago, a dream that has sat in the back of my mind, a dream that I knew I had to sit with and wait for its meaning to be revealed. And so I put it away, knowing I’d come back to it at some point. Now is the time, for the meaning has been revealed.

I tell Chuck about the dream, in which I pull a bone out of my foot, a bone that grows larger and larger as I carry it around, sometimes giving it to him to hold, until it transforms into a white buffalo. The white buffalo is the size of a calf, yet it’s ancient, old and tired. It will not leave my side; everywhere I go the small white buffalo follows along. I confront issues of detachment and ego in the dream while the buffalo gets sicker and sicker. It vomits and keels over, exhausted, barely able to hold up, yet it will not leave me. It constantly gets back up and trods onward, its nose to the ground, its bony hump old and brittle, dutifully keeping pace with me. I worry about it, though I also accept its presence, for I recognize it. I’m aware that it’s been walking beside me forever.

I tell Chuck that as soon as I woke up from the dream I knew it was important, but I couldn’t make any sense of it at the time. With the birth of the white buffalo calf that I read about, I am spurred to figure it out.

What is the significance of my dream? As I begin pondering this question I feel the pull of outside energy, of ego telling me that I am special, though I know I’m not. I slow down and pull inward, knowing I have to investigate this in my inner world, to find out the significance and specialness of this dream omen as I progress on my personal journey. I’m certain this has nothing to do with anyone else, but only to do with some bone of contention that I still carry within. I’m aware that this white buffalo omen is prompting me to take the next step on my journey of growth and transformation.

Chuck and I discuss the dream. We discover that I have been like this buffalo, dutifully bearing up under all circumstances, always getting back on my feet and plodding along, nose to the grindstone.

“That’s it!” Chuck exclaims. “This is what I’ve been searching for, the answer to the question: Where is Jan’s ego? It’s not in inflation, I’ve always known that, but I just couldn’t get a handle on it. This dream is clearly showing that it’s in willfulness. Jan’s ego is a martyr!”

I acknowledge the truth of this. I see that my challenge is to shed the martyr archetype, to let the sick buffalo die, transforming its willfulness into energy that is useful, life giving, and healing. Pulling the bone out of my foot was the first step in this transformational process. Now it’s time to take the next step and shed the buffalo hide. And then Chuck gets up and plays Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier and it makes perfect sense to me. Chuck also suggests that I write about the white buffalo in my next blog, but I tell him that I’m not sure I’m ready yet.

We go to sleep. I wake up after an hour or so, this challenge of shedding the martyr-self, the buffalo soldier, running through my mind. I know I must be available to the people who need me, but differently now, not as a martyr dutifully carrying out her duties, but balancing kindness, compassion, and being available while fully standing in my truth. These are things I have worked at consistently for many years, always feeling like I was not quite getting over the final hump within that would free me of the deeply ingrained sense of duty that weighs so heavily upon my shoulders. As I lie awake, I think about shedding the bony carapace of the buffalo, the garment of the martyr that I have worn my entire life, now scruffy and old.

I fall back to sleep and into a dream. Someone is sick and must go to the hospital. I never see who it is, but it’s me of course. A nun meets us at the door of the hospital and takes my cell phone from me. I watch as she puts it into the deep pocket of her long black habit. No cell phones allowed; no outside interference. While we sit in the hospital room of the sick patient, I work on the blog for the next week, the one about the white buffalo, as Chuck suggested I do. It’s partly channeled, partly comprised of the dream I had about the bone in my foot, and partly about the new insight that Chuck and I came to. Every now and then Chuck screams and bolts upright, as if he’s having a heart attack. Clutching his heart he says: “My heart tells me it’s true! My heart tells me it’s right!” I tell him he’s freaking me out, but he keeps doing it.

At one point a woman artist walks into the room. She stays for a while, leaning over the bed of the sick person, and then leaves. Then a yogi comes in. He too goes to the hospital bed, says something, and leaves. The third person to walk in is a wine merchant. He too goes over to the bed of the sick person, speaks softly, and then leaves without saying a word to us. I see these characters as parts of who I have been in the world—the ego, the artist self who worked in the real world; the spirit self who worked in my inner world; and the self of pleasure and desire who fulfilled the needs of the human self—saying goodbye to the old self.

I get up, leaving Chuck to watch over the sick person, while I go for a walk out into the surrounding desert. I stand in the middle of the desert and hear a loud crack and then the sound of bones dropping to the ground. Standing up straight and tall, I easily release the garment of the martyr, the carapace of the white buffalo. At the same time, glancing to my right, I see a large snake slithering out of a clump of grass. It lifts its enormous head and looks at me with a huge smile on its face. I am filled with unbelievable happiness and delight at the sight of it. I walk back to the hospital with the snake slithering alongside me, just as the white buffalo had once walked beside me, but it doesn’t feel like duty now, there is only joy accompanying me.

The nun meets me in the lobby as soon as I enter the hospital. “She’s dead,” she tells me, glancing at the snake beside me. I go back to the room and tell Chuck that now I have to rewrite everything that I’d written earlier.

“Now that she’s dead, my blog won’t be true anymore,” I say, and I tell Chuck to sit quietly, to not disturb me. “I have all these parts out there floating around,” I say, “and I have to bring them together in a cohesive whole. I have to write a new story.”

I will not be distracted. I work intently on the story while Chuck reads quietly beside me, the snake curled at my feet. Eventually, the nun comes back to the hospital room and tells us that we have to leave, that we have to pack up the belongings of the dead person so they can clean the room. We carry a few boxes to the car. I see that the nun has laid my cell phone on top of the car.

“You have two messages waiting for you,” she says. “The phone has been beeping away every half hour, letting you know that someone is trying to reach you. You can listen to them now if you want, before going back to cleaning out the room.”

“No,” I say. “I don’t need to listen. They can wait.” I have a sense that they are calls from people who want something from me, demanding to know where I’ve been and why I haven’t been in touch with them, people calling the old buffalo martyr self who always responded. But she’s dead now and I will not be distracted or pulled away from the work at hand. The only duty I have is to return to the hospital room, pack up the belongings of the person who has died, and continue working on my new story.

I wake up from this dream feeling refreshed, lighter and freer. Reliving the moment of shedding the buffalo carapace again, I realize that I experienced the same transformative energy in this dream as when I stood up and faced the seagulls on Great Duck Island that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I shed the old bones of the martyr self and walked away, leaving them behind without attachment or regret, just as I had shed my fearful self and walked away from the seagulls. Death of the old self occurred in the action of shedding the white buffalo carapace and a new self, the snake of transformation and healing, was instantly born.

As Bob Marley says in Buffalo Soldiers: “If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from.”

And if you know that, I say, then you can change.

From all the worlds of dreams and reality, sending love and transformational energy,

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