I’m in a large room that feels like a living room or study in an old house. Three men around my age are in here with me. They are somehow familiar and it feels comforting that they’re here. They’re doing a slow, solitary dance around the room, each in his own way, in a counter-clockwise circle. One man passes in front of me wearing a dark gray robe with a sash and a hood or floppy hat. He’s holding an open manuscript in his hands and seems to be reading it as he glides gracefully by.
He makes a slow turn and I see that he’s extremely stiff. He pulls something out of his robes that looks like a long pen and tucks it vertically behind the sash, as if to brace his spine. I feel sorry for him and turn to the blonde-haired man on my right to say, “He’s in pain!” but realize he’s looking at the man in gray with compassion and understanding. He knows. So does the silent man I sense behind me.
I wonder why these men are doing this. It’s like a ritual or contest they’ve been involved in for a long time and still feel they must do. Why, especially, does the man in gray keep doing it if it causes him such pain? How important could this be if he is risking injury? He approaches the silent man and they confer about their training and strategy for an upcoming event. I am impressed by their dedication and somehow grateful that they intend to pursue their goal, as if their continuing is important to me, will somehow be in my best interest.
Oh, my. I almost didn’t write this snippet down this morning as it seemed so unimportant, but now I find it deeply moving. The clothing of the man in gray (the color I almost always wear to honor the overlap of black and white), the fact that he carries a manuscript, and the pen he uses to brace his spine, all point to my writer animus: my WiseMan/Warrior/Magician/Scholar! The fact that he’s in this slow dance, always moving to the left, counterclockwise, points to committed inner work.
What is so puzzling and unexpected is that he’s obviously in pain, yet he persists as if it hasn’t occurred to him to quit. He will see the dance through no matter the cost. Yes, he is like that. A Warrior, for sure. Oh, how I love him, yet I feel very sad for him too, as if he’s making the utmost sacrifice for his cause. It gives me comfort to know he has faithful companions to give him help and encouragement. Even more comforting is the knowledge they’re doing this for me.
But why this dance? What is their goal? What’s the pain about? How does this dream pertain to me and where I am now? Tears spill onto my cheeks as I write this. They are my body’s evidence of a bone-deep, abiding pain which my ego usually prefers to ignore. I know the costs of going within, of carrying the burden of a strong sense of responsibility to my cause. It is a lonely way. I sense the misunderstanding and barely disguised boredom, feel the silent criticism and rejection in the shoulder shrugs and exasperated sighs of strangers or casual acquaintances, sometimes even friends. These come with the territory.
But the man in the gray robe does not let this deter him, nor will I. The way of individuation may be a solitary dance, but he and I are not alone.
You can order my new book, Healing the Sacred Divide, at www.larsonpublications.com