“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” ~Albert Einstein
I love the mysterious aspects of life and am a believer in signs, portents, omens, and the like. I’m sure this tendency comes partly from the artistic side of my nature and partly because the grandfather that raised me was part Native American. I lived with my grandparents from the time I was 3 until I was 11. During those years I learned a lot of uncommon things – I could trap and skin rabbits, I could shoot a shotgun at a very young age, I knew the names of plants and trees, understood the difference between poisonous berries and those safe to eat, and learned to make sassafras tea from sassafras roots dug in of the woods.
Those years were an uncommon and delightful period in my life. A bright time that would preface the much darker years that followed. That time period also created a certain view of my place in and interaction with the world around me. I came to believe that God and nature speak to us in many ways – through signs, intuition, omens, and various levels of unconscious perception. This “sense” of belief in other (in all its various forms) remains with me today.
As a young child I was told stories of animal spirits or animal guides and was certain (due to my fondness for them) that my animal guide was a wolf. I appreciated the uniqueness of wolves, their sad mournful cries, the abject loyalty, and the fact that they mated for life. An interesting, lovely animal across the board. However, as certain as I was of their guidance as a child, and as much as I liked them, something started changing as I reached adolescence. I started dreaming about a white tiger with blue eyes.
The tiger was always with me, but doing nothing in particular – just present in a reassuring way. I would wake with the dream so fresh and real in my mind – the tiger stretched out and me curled up against him. There was a sense of strength and wildness about the creature. Still, I always felt that I was safe with him. In fact, I have never felt safer and more protected in my life than in those dreams sleeping beside my blue-eyed tiger.
The tiger dreams were a normal part of my life for 21 years. I puzzled over them a great deal during that time. I read numerous dream interpretation books and many psychology books and dream-cognizant behavior theories. None of these offered a satisfactory logical explanation, nor did they describe any particular form of insanity in which this dream was a prevalent symptom (because, yes, I was starting to wonder about sanity!). There were no answers readily available – just the breathing animal beside me in my dreams, warm and silent.
Now, allow me to clarify for all the psych majors out there – I never dated anyone with blue eyes during those years. Didn’t have an unfulfilled crush on a blue-eyed guy, or any of those normal dream-prompting scenarios. In fact, the tiger presence in my dreams had a wholly different essence than anyone I’d ever met. Unique and complicated in its energy, but soothing in a way totally alien to me.
And then, the dreams stopped during a very difficult time in my life. It struck me as really unusual at the time, because normally the presence was more dominant during times of hardship. The last time I dreamed of my tiger was almost three years ago – the day before I got on a plane and flew to Dallas to start work with a sales group. What hadn’t made sense for 21 years was perfectly clear a mere 24 hours later.
My tiger was a premonition of change: a time to come, a place I would find, and a person I would meet. I would know the eyes and the presence immediately. The mystery of what that means in my life remains a mystery still. I believe the world and God speak to us in so many subtle and shocking ways – beneath the obvious is a deep, flowing current of mystery that moves with us and carries us. Sometimes, the answer is just another question.
Why was I shown something for so many years that was so far away? I believe it was so I could recognize and understand when it arrived without fear and misconception. It was a pivot-point in my life and the deeper parts of self. I have changed drastically in many ways since then. I have a deeper understanding of the danger and the beauty that co-exists in our world and in our deepest selves. I understand that some emotions defy explanation and logic, and yet have a greater meaning in the larger fabric of life – the smallest moments shared can enrich us and change us in profound ways.
The tiger of my youth doesn’t visit my dreams anymore, but his voice still speaks in my heart. He remains a great and wonderful mystery in my life.