I once dreamed that I was being chased by a bear. And it’s emotional impact was so intense and so real that its impressions remain with me to this day. I can still vividly recall the sweeping torrent of sensations that I can only describe as – a violent withering – beneath the weight of such hateful intentions bearing down on me. Even though I couldn’t see it, I was totally paralyzed by it.

I remember feeling choked by the fear I encountered, which rendered me unable to scream or breathe. I remember the rush of panic that knotted my insides and the delirium that was almost euphoric, as if I had been severed from myself and was hovering somewhere between consciousness and nothingness. I remember an overwhelming sense of desperation that caused me to lose command of my own body, leaving me to whimper and curl up in horror as I stumbled and fell, “knowing” that the bear’s presence would immediately be upon me. I’d never felt so helpless or so ashamed. I’d never felt so wholly consumed, as the mere thought of such blood lust tore through me without the slightest bite.

As with most dreams, I can’t recall how it all began or how I arrived at such demoralizing reactions. Yet, it wasn’t the senselessness of my fear that I remember most, but the final moment before tasting my own death when, in a reflexive impulse, I turned to SEE my impending doom. I lifted my eyes from the ground and in searching found an enormous inflatable bear… a harmless parade float outside my window, its shadow merely passing (apparently, through me).

It was one of those dreams that left me feeling uneasy in the morning. But by noon, I understood the significance of the illusion: That the perils we often face are nothing more than inflated misinterpretations that have been blown out of proportion. So now, when facing adversity, if I begin feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances at hand (which are usually obfuscated), I have to remind myself to see the bear for what it is… an illusion.

I am with that bear now. I am that bear… who only casts a long, dark shadow. And I am currently engaged in a staring contest with him (myself).