Someone told me recently that they enjoy reading what I have to say because I write what everyone thinks, but nobody wants to say or admit. That pleased me because thinking I have a connection with others is something I have struggled with all my life. The theme of the one recurring dream I have had is that I am on the outside looking in. The dream could be about a picnic or a party or a meeting but the feeling it brings up is always the same—I don’t fit in. The others do not reject me though; instead, I hold myself apart by choice, evaluating and assessing and yes, fearful, even as the heart of me longs to belong.
But this person’s observation brought into focus for me the universality of all our longings and to that end it gives me the courage to share something I learned just recently. It was an epiphany of sorts for me, although it may not be for you. It is simple: be kind to yourself.
When I said those words to myself for the first time not long ago, discovering them as an archeologist would discover a treasure sifting through a pile of rubble, they struck me with the same wonder. I saw my actions in lucid perspective—my actions toward myself, that is—and for the most part, those actions have not been kind. They have had a driving, critical and pushy aspect—like a stage mother whose child is never good enough. But with the simple phrase, be kind to yourself, I perceived a whole different way of treating myself, one that is forgiving and gentle and humorous and relaxed.
When I treat myself with kindness, I exist within the rich moments of my day, savoring them, not expecting any return or reward. I almost used the word ‘grateful’ here, but ‘gratitude’ is becoming a vague, sanctimonious term, stacking us against one another in the spiritual materialism department and that’s not a very kind thing to do to ourselves, is it?
So I’ll just say that reminding myself to be kind to myself gives me a long perspective, and like all long perspectives, it reveals choices.
This morning I woke up with the light of the setting full moon splashing over my pillow. It woke me from a dream about an old house I used to live in. In my dream I was looking for the house, but I couldn’t find it. Where it had been was now a strip mall and light industries. But it was just a dream.
In my real life—that is to say, my waking life—that house wasn’t just any old house. It was the place I fixed up for eight years. I glazed windows, sawed floorboards, painted walls, split wood, learned to farm, and grew most of my own food. It was a time of self-reliance and it taught me, that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything. So to dream that it was all gone, lost under a tide of human activity unconscious to the deeper forces that connect us to the earth and to each other—what did that mean? I also dreamt, within that dream, that my two best friends from high school were with me; even though one of them had committed suicide more than thirty years earlier and the other I haven’t had any contact with.
This dream could have easily been a nightmare, but it wasn’t. In the dream I felt some frustration and a little sadness that I couldn’t find my old house again, but I was not much distressed. I think the dream was telling me that even profound experiences and the memories they create have a limited shelf life within our psyches. It was time to let them—the old house and my friends—go. Whatever purpose their existence had had in my life was fulfilled. The memory was neutralized, no longer active. The pattern was completed.
Full moon dreams stir the depths, bringing them to light. And this full moon was showing me it’s time to stride ahead, confident and unencumbered.