At 4:30 A.M., a coughing spell woke me to this corrective dream:

A summery evening, I attend a free movie screened in a nearby park. I join others seated behind a narrow counter, my brown leather shoulder strap bag at my feet. Still mesmerized by the film’s impact, I slowly walk toward my car, then discover I don’t have my bag. I retrace my steps and, beneath subdued lighting, discover it missing. An ill-tempered cleaning lady is no help.

The dream story reveals shadow content I’ve been keeping from myself: my penchant for warmer weather, my attraction for freebies, and my distractions skirting full consciousness of my present circumstances.

With the waning light of October, my psyche begins to resist winter’s bluster, but there’s no stopping it; within its dismemberment, a deeper reality is present: both nature and my physical body undergo wasting and death—This is unacceptable. Of course, I cling to summer, full of riotous color and warmth.

Sloth’s lethargy, laced into a lifetime of chronic illness, always drew me toward freebies. In the dream, the free movie usurped my power of choice, preferring distraction rather than dealing with the reality of my terminal illness. At times, research and significant authors still envelop me, to the detriment of my self-care.

At the movie’s conclusion, brain fog settled it. No matter that I’d left my brown leather shoulder strap bag behind: within it, my identification, money, and keys. Only later did the pain of its loss goad my return to the site. The ill-tempered cleaning lady was a perfect fit for my mood: exhausted, alone, stripped of persona, and pissed.

So the urgency of paying attention to each moment allotted me is critical; there are still lessons to be learned. Flawed I am and flawed I will remain, within Higher Power’s unconditional love.