YANG YANG: When I was in the last year of middle school, my family suffered a huge blow. Four of our family members died within two years, all from the same disease. This made a deep impact on me. I didn’t want to sleep alone at night anymore.
    During that time, I had three dreams that I still remember. One is about my sister. I dreamt she had died, she was lying in the coffin. It was just before the cremation, there was lots of charcoal under the coffin already. When they closed the lid and were just about to push the coffin into the fire, my sister suddenly stuck out her hand, she was alive again. I told my mother she was still alive and they shouldn’t burn her. Then I woke up because I was so scared. In another dream, I dreamt that my uncle had died. He was lying in the bed in my grandparents’ room. It seems that our family was celebrating the spring festival, and suddenly my uncle had his hand full of rice and tried to give it to me and to my sister. He had also come alive again. Those dreams seem very strange to me.
    During that time, I didn’t want to sleep alone. In fact I didn’t even want to lie down flat on my back because I associated that with a corpse just before the cremation. Even today, I still try not to lie on my back when I’m sleeping. Sometimes I feel that that would be very relaxing and more comfortable, but I don’t dare to do it. Back then I lived next to a DVD rental store that was owned by my aunt. I had a good relationship with her because I always went to rent DVDs. She is a nice person, she told me many things about her life and her family, she was very kind to me always, so I told her about my dreams and my fears. She comforted me a lot.
    Later I moved to another place. Then, two years ago, I went back there because a friend of mine had told me that my aunt had died. I was very afflicted, it was very difficult for me to accept her death. She was such a good person and then she died all of a sudden because of some illness. I felt very bad about that. Unconsciously, I was wondering whether she had died because of what I had told her. That puzzled me a lot.
    The night before New Year’s Day, I had another dream. In fact I was never sure whether it was a dream or not. It was during the spring festival some months after all this had happened to our family. I was watching TV late at night. Then I lay down on the sofa and tried to sleep. At some point, I suddenly felt that someone was behind my back, searching for something. I wasn’t sure whether there really was anybody there, it just felt like it, but I didn’t dare to look. I thought it must be a thief trying to steal my cell phone. So I covered my head with the blanket and kept as quiet as possible. I didn’t even dare to breathe. I thought, I’d better not disturb him, otherwise he might attack me. My parents were sleeping in another room and the door was closed so they didn’t notice anything. I pretended I was sleeping and let him take what he wanted.
    The next day, my parents took me to Xindu, a place close to Chengdu. We went shopping and I lost my cell phone on the way. One of my father’s friends had studied Buddhism and knew about the Yijing. He told me that after all the things that had happened in my family, for the next seven years I would have a better situation and development than before. When I look back now, this has actually come true. Once he wrote some magic words for me, I don’t remember them now. He said they would help me to calm down if I dreamt about dead relatives or when I was scared. And they did. Whenever I had a bad dream and woke up terrified, I would read those words and they would make me feel as if there was a ring of light around me that protected me.
    I had a boyfriend from when I was fourteen to when I was nineteen, for five years. He told me that he often had the same dream, at least once every six months. It was a horrible dream, it was about his own death and the way in which he would die, and the dream was always exactly the same. He could never understand why he had this dream.
    Dreams are very mysterious to me. I think they are related to thoughts, but they can predict what will happen in the future. Two years ago, for example, I dreamt about en earthquake. In the dream, I was living in an apartment on the fourth floor, and the earthquake destroyed everything below and above it, only my apartment and the staircase remained. When I came back home, it was a huge mess. The clouds in the sky were purple and grey, they were big and moving fast and very close above me. Two years later, the earthquake really happened. I think dreams are a mystery, I really don’t know how to explain what I dream. I used to write down all my dreams because I thought they were related to my life, and I tried to find out what that relation was. Many other people told me that they have the same feeling, that sometimes when you are doing something, suddenly an image flashes through your mind and you feel as if you’ve dreamt about this situation before. This happens to me very often. It’s very strange, I’d love to get an explanation for it.
    After the time when all those horrible things happened in my family, one day I woke up and found that I had lost a bunch of hair, there was a bald area on my head about the size of a coin. But I couldn’t find the hair anywhere. That scared me a lot and I told my parents about it. They said it was probably because I was under stress and because I wasn’t eating well. Later my hair grew back after I took some pills, but I’ve always thought this was related to what happened in our family.
    I went to a technical high school for some time but I had to quit for economic reasons. Then I did many different jobs and met a lot of people, among them my boyfriend. He is much older than me and he taught me many things. He helped me a lot. I still feel that I have a lot to learn. I want to work here for two or three more years and save enough money to go back to school. I also want to travel, especially to India and Nepal. I heard that you can learn a lot about Buddhism there, there must be many interesting things to see. Life is really short, I want to use that time and have my own life. I like watching movies, too. I used to like rock and electronic music. I think my life is quite all right, but I need to be more independent. My aim is to be a more independent person, to choose my own life, to know what I need and to follow my heart.