Do you know who you are? What you like? What you don’t like? What you believe in? What your limits are?
I’ve been watching a Dutch program lately called (translated): “Flora at the End of the World”. In it, a journalist goes to the world’s most remote places to talk to individuals or families who live there, away from society. When asked why, almost all reply that they had the need to find out who they are, for themselves, away from advertising and other social pressures. They talk about the brainwashing of consumerism, the noise of marketing, the world that tries to define based on what one owns or how one looks. One might expect to see a grizzled, matted-hair extremist introvert but in fact one finds happy, bright people and families who are alive and relaxed with a palpable state of gratitude.
What does it mean to think for yourself? And what happens when you do?
I have often said that dreaming and imagery work is a revolutionary act. It is by nature revolutionary and rebellious because it is the work of looking inside to the inner voice, the True Self, that is free of all the brainwashing, marketing, and other social pressures that do, indeed, press upon us. Finding it can happen at your kitchen table – one doesn’t have to go to the snow-swept Tiaga in order to hear it (though perhaps once one hears it one might prefer to go there as a result!).
The oft-repeated question “what should I be doing with my life?!” is often a cry to give oneself permission to BE – to be and not to be defined. To BE in all your uniqueness without softening or curtailing, or hiding this or not showing that. A cry to live, fully, in all the ways that do or don’t “fit in”. And nothing is more revolutionary or rebellious than this assertion to express one’s full True Self.
How often do we step back, stopping ourselves from daring to dream about writing because we haven’t anything to say, or changing our job because we have to make a certain income? How often do we choke ourselves with our own words, not calling someone because it’s “too soon”, not expressing an opposing opinion so as to not make waves, not saying I love you because we don’t know if it is reciprocated?
There are sheep and rams. Sheep huddle together in protected, green valleys; rams climb craggy rocks to high peaks. Each of us has a little of both inside us. The question is how often do we use our ram potential?
It’s not without reason that we so frequently engage our sheep side. Rams butt heads. Rams go against the grain, against the flow. They follow no trails, going their own way, following their own instincts. It’s not an easy path to follow. Last fall two celebrities spoke in response to the #MeToo movement, suggesting that women, also, have a role in the relationship between men and women, which includes behavior as well as how they dress, and both were publicly ostracized and scathed across social media.
Too bad. That’s exactly what we need in today’s society, the mini-revolutionaries who think from a True inner place. Because what happens when one engages in one’s True Self is not an explosive or violent outburst, but a return to balance and harmony. The two women who spoke about the woman’s role in male/female relationships were looking for balance and equal reflection from both sides; the people living at the ends of the world are in harmony with themselves, nature and Spirit, not taking but giving and receiving.
It’s when we are not engaging in our True Self that division occurs. When the pressure mounts to express, to “break out” of boxes, to “go against” the grain. It is the push against – against the old echoes of father saying I should do this or that, of the ghosts of society herding us down the chutes of status and importance, the wispy illusions of progress and security – that creates the friction, the tinder, the need to explode. “I’m not that!” “No one knows me!” “I don’t know who I am!” “Let me be!” These anxious screams express the tension of holding in, of wrestling the Self to the floor and pinning it down.
Once we begin to simply BE, life returns to flow. No more “defenses up”, but a homecoming to one’s natural, relaxed posture. It is in this space that true relationships with others can be forged. When we simply return to the True Self we become as rebellious as a Tree – rooted and secure in our Selfness, pliant and flexible in the blowing winds, spacious enough to welcome birds and squirrels, stretching wide branches to shelter those in need, and making sweet fruits to share with others.