So often we wake from a dream thinking, Oh I just dreamt that because that’s what I did yesterday–what a dumb dream! And we forget it in a moment. But even those banal dreams can have beneficent messages. Messages that sometimes may make a difference in a decision or choice our conscious mind is considering. Consider this essay as a significant example.
Twenty-two years ago, on the eve of what astrologers were calling “The Harmonic Convergence,” five other women and I drove out to Cynthia’s mom’s house on Little Sebago Lake in Maine to hang out and relax over the weekend. It was a gorgeous day and we hurried into our bathing suits and climbed into these wonderful lake lounges, our books in dry, protective pockets inside the waterproof chaises. Then we paddled our way out to the free-floating dock. Climbing out, we set ourselves up with towels and drinks and talked quietly or read our books under the perfect warmth of the August sun. There were the usual disturbances of other boats and voices calling from the shore, but the scene was primarily peaceful how to write a cause and effect essay.
We were talking about a phenomenon sweeping the local feminist community of southern Maine called, vaguely and innocuously enough, “The Artists’ Workshop.” This particular Artists’ Workshop was designed to help “struggling feminist writers and artists.” We had just attended a meeting that had never really specified what was meant by “help” or what skills were to be actualized during the session. Lynn, an old friend of mine with whom I had worked at my bookstore was the woman who had initially invited me to join.
This was 1987 and at the time, I had never heard of a pyramid scheme, such as that one that recently helped bring down the world economy. Guised in New Age language, set up to make money for those who get in early enough, The Artist’s Workshop was said to be a brilliant new way to support independent women. Those who don’t literally do the math could be perfectly charmed by the energy and lured in by the enthusiasm of the group. Although I didn’t really believe Lynn, or any of her friends, thought they were perpetuating a losing proposition, one that would hurt others in the end, I was immediately suspicious.
Usually I was a Pollyanna when it came to trust, but there was something that didn’t make sense to me. Math is not my strong point; it’s one of my right-brain challenges in fact. But I did know some logical left-brained people and consulted them. A pyramid scam essentially grows exponentially at such a quickly multiplying rate that inevitably at some point it has to collapse. This one was to work with an airplane metaphor.
For $1500 you could buy a seat on the plane. You then sold eight other seats and were promoted to a “co-pilot.” Those eight people gave you $1500 a piece and lo and behold, before you knew it, you had $12,000 in cash. Lynn was using this leverage to make a long desired geographical move cross country. And she did move and it served her well. As for the women who gave her their money-they took a gamble but didn’t fare as well. Some of those women were the women on the dock with me that day.
I tried to tell them the probable risks. But everyone in our small city was discussing this thing. It had probably already gotten past the point of any returns. But in entrepreneurial Maine, there were so many young holistically-minded-women trying to break out into their own practice-massage therapists, nutritionists, specialists in herbal flower remedies, what have you-everyone wanted to quit their day job. I had just sold my store and the idea of chance at a secure financial start on a new venture was very seductive.
In our small city people in their mid thirties took risks and you could “do your dream” here more easily than in a larger, more populated area where real estate prices were off the charts. The fact was that, at this point, those who were promoting the Artists’ Workshop show had already invested and were convinced that there were enough people in the world that this thing could keep moving and liberate anyone from the tedium of meaningless job. We found out later it had already been exhausted in Boston and the airplane was flying north to more provincial places with smaller populations and people with less cash to burn.
So I had been considering doing the workshop. I was tempted and I had the cash on hand. I had even confronted Lynn with the ethical problem behind what she was promoting. “What if the women who give you their money with their own good will are left in the lurch when they can’t find anyone else to board the plane?” I asked. “Well, maybe that’s their karma,” she answered.
Her reply didn’t sit right with me in that it misused the spiritual belief system, almost as the Hindu caste system does when it rationalizes that the low-lying “untouchables” have been born to their lowly state as a result of karmic payback, therefore people of higher castes are justified in looking down at them. Despite any reasoning about the cause and effect of karmic balancing, I believed that someone who follows a spiritual path does not knowingly put others at a disadvantage.
Then again, we were grown-ups, and Lynn maintained that everyone knew the risks. I claimed that ultimately someone down the line would lose out while I would have benefited from her money. That, I maintained, might be bad karma. Perhaps I was overly self-righteous but I didn’t think, in good conscience I could ask someone to give me money selling her on the idea they’d get it back when I couldn’t guarantee anything of the sort.
We passionately discussed the pros and cons that sunny afternoon on the dock to the humming motors of outboard boats. The scene was totally peaceful until out of nowhere this whaler full of twenty-something boys came whipping by, throwing its wake like a tsunami over our sacred space. We all stood up, our books falling into the lake, drinks tipping over while towels were soaked. We scolded and hollered, cursing and shaking our fists at the boys, and to our great surprise, they looped around, came back, jumped out of their boat, swam toward us, climbed onto our dock and began throwing us in the water!