The other night, I had a dream about my (former) parrot, Homer. In the dream, Homer was standing on the kitchen counter, his candy-corn beak slightly larger than in real life, and though I noticed this detail, it did not seem worth considering. My dreams usually contain some element of this - I notice that something is out of sorts, but don't act on that out-of-sorts-ness and just let the dream take me where it wants to go.
Homer looked sad, and spoke to me in the voice of young Simba from The Lion King (how cute is that voice, by the way?). Homer said, "I didn't get to leave the house yesterday, and I didn't get to leave the house today."
I asked him, "Homer, do you want to leave the house?"
No," he replied. "I just don't ever want to not be in a membership of people."
You and me both, buddy. I, like Homer, never want to not be in a membership of people. As clumsy as the sentence structure of my dreaming mind can be, the message is clear enough: Friends, family, people are important. Necessary. Helpful. Wonderful. I'm not one to forget this when it comes to those I'm close to, but I must work on transferring that mindset to everyone - neighbors, acquaintances, strangers.
That realization and the theme of out-of-sorts-ness came into play yesterday evening, as Frank and were eating dinner. We both kept hearing a sound coming from outside, at varying intervals. I registered the sound first as a cat howling somewhere down the road, but after a few minutes decided it was some of the kids several houses away yelling and making noises at each other. Frank went onto the deck to investigate, but couldn't determine the nature of the sound, either. As he turned to return to the house, he heard the noise again and this time located the source: our elderly neighbor had slipped and fallen in her back yard. She was sitting on the ground, holding her arms against herself, unable to get up, and kept calling Frank's name in the hopes that he (or someone) would hear.
We both rushed to her yard to help. Her nose had a large, red scrape on the bridge, and both of her wrists were swelling. Her arm and shoulder were injured such that she couldn't pull herself off the ground. We called her daughter, then an ambulance, all the while talking to her and making sure there wasn't any more serious damage. She was taken to the hospital, and, while she's a little banged up, she is, for the most part, okay.
If I had been home by myself, I probably wouldn't have realized that the odd noise was our injured neighbor. If we hadn't been home, or had the door closed, or - so many ifs and ors - our neighbor could have been out in her yard for hours, or worse. I try not to think of these things, these what-ifs. But sometimes, and from now on, when something seems out of sorts, something probably is and I will take a look around to make sure things are as they should be.