Posts tagged #dream

Dream #7: Horrors

As the dream starts out, I'm teaching my poetry class at Pitt in the Cathedral of Learning.  Except there's a big bed in the room and the bed has a quilt with various panels.  I'm re-arranging the panels of the quilt like one would arrange windows on a computer screen.  Each panel is half a poem and half a very melty picture of a face merged with a texture: a wooden face, a seashell face, a grass face, a coal face.  I finally arrange the panels to my satisfaction and have some conversations with my class.  But there's a pervasive sense of unhappiness and misery.  I feel like I'm enslaved, like I have no choice about being there.

I leave the classroom and I go out into the wide city.  I go downtown and I see a scene that decimates me: I witness Matthu destroyed by a car accident.  Someone tells me that his father was also in the accident and was blinded.  No one will tell me if Matthu is just badly hurt or dead.  I'm screaming hysterically and looking at the wreckage. Then suddenly, I'm away from the scene of the accident and back at the base of the Cathedral, which is also somehow the campus of CMU.  Something has shifted in me and I start speaking coherently and loudly about the evils of the universities, their war-mongering, their exploitations of students and teachers.  A crowd gathers around me.  My mind feels like it's been clarified rather than clouded by grief; I can no longer stand even one tiny jot of complicity with falsehood any longer.  I don't want any one to ever imagine that I think the universities are okay or not wickedly destructive to the souls and minds and bodies of all involved with them.  Also, it seems to me that Matthu has been destroyed by the whole wicked apparatus of the world, like the harm that came to him wasn't by chance, it was a direct consequence of the whole insane society.

Finally a crowd of police surround me.  They tell me to stop talking about the evils of the university and let them arrest me or they'll burn me to death.  They propose to burn me to death with giant sheets of white paper which I sense are acidic - they could wrap me in the paper and I'd burn/dissolve.  I let them arrest me.  They're very kind to me after I do that.  I tell them about Matthu and they take me back to the site of the accident.  My father is there, saying completely useless, ignorant things about how Matthu is dead because he wasn't careful enough.  This enrages me and I start beating my father and shouting about how Matthu was beautiful and perfect and a thousand times better than him (my father).

Then I wake up.

What the dream makes me think about:

I had a conversation just the other day about the ridiculousness of police brutality, about police violently breaking up peaceful celebrations and share faires because we no longer have a right to be happy and love each other.  Because happiness and love and sharing are direct threats to the private-property capitalist consumerist state.  It makes me think about my general frustrations with my father, which I've worked on for a long long time but which come up in dreams like this fairly often.  It makes me think about how yes, I would like to shout to everyone about the evils of the universities.  And also about how that in itself would probably be seen as somehow terroristic, given the bomb threats that the campus received this past spring.  I'm left with the sense of how very precious Matthu is to me and how I do indeed see his very existence as something that goes against the grain of our culture in how radically strange and gorgeous he is.  So I feel like this dream is doing a lot for me - reflecting back many intense passions both personal and political and trying to show me perhaps where they intertwine.


image: [p. Gordon]

Posted on June 7, 2012 and filed under Dream Journal.

Art, Love and Transmutation - A guest post by Abigail Amalton

Art is about love. It is love, pure love.


I can't even begin to describe what music has done for me. How can an art form, independent of the flaws of its creators, catalyze such deep healing and transformation? How can somebody else's stories lead me back to myself, deeper into my own bliss? The deeper I move into the subjective, the more often I hit the universal. Do we all ultimately share the same core?

Art is love. And love is transcendent, transformative. Love has no opposite. Love is the step beyond dualist thinking. Dualism dissolves completely in the heat and light of pure love. This wonderful step beyond is not even thought nor is it just feeling - it's pure being. Love is being absorbed in the flow: the conscious observer-participant co-creating the universe, the drop of water in the endless ocean of existence. It isn't merely an emotion, not merely a state of mind - love is all-encompassing being. It is a subtle awareness of the life force that flows through us - through bone and bloody capillary, through neural networks and the serpentine energetic currents in our spines.

Love is the knowing that this life force is one and the same with what moves stars to begin their lives in misty stellar nurseries, light years away. It is the possibility that everything in this universe, every last little organism, every drop of blood is alive - purely. And simply waiting for us to realize this.

Love is a new way of being on this planet. It revolutionizes each individual who decides to make it a way of life, changing her so that she may never go back, never settle for anything less than pure joy. So what do lovers do? We live for love. We show, through our lives, that it can be done. That we can partake in this cosmic dance with joy - that this is our birthright. Love is the activation of our potential for continued and unending bliss.

Love transmutes.


It is the knowing that in spite of pain, we live. Pain, however deep, helps us remember that we are embodied and interconnected. When we reflect on our pain, then we remember that we are ensouled. As long as you love, you'll never lose your soul. So, why continue to hurt? Catalyze the transformation with a deliberate joy in every moment of this ecstatic existence. Push for it. Let it open you up. Let joyfulness be a breaking open of the calcified shell of the ego. Decide you'll never live in the egoic mode again - and when you do, laugh at it.

Live this way and let life have its way with you, move through you - let spirit sense matter in whatever way it will, for the purpose of love. Live this way and you won't have to meet with death to finally live - because you will no longer unconsciously push yourself further and further to hurt simply to feel alive.

Gather with other souls in love and explore collaborative ecstasy. Collaborative beauty. Explorations like these are how the planet will begin again, how we can jumpstart conscious evolution. Let go of the patterns we only cling to out of habit and replace them only with love.

Love is how we will reach the stars sooner than we think.

Abigail Amalton is an amazing artist who lives and creates in New York City.  Check her out over at The Silent Infinite!

The Arcana - Chapter 1 - Laney Mitchell's Life Sucks



So, I wrote a first draft of a novel for NaNoWriMo this year.  It's a metaphysical farce, which I know is not as popular these days as bodice-ripping supernatural teen romance-- but, what the hell, it's what I got.


The plot has a few dozen holes and logical inconsistencies-- but there's stuff in it that's really amusing and compelling, in my humble estimation.


I realized that with my ever-mounting to-do list related to making a living, I might never get around to revising this novel into something that fits neatly together and makes sense.  Then I remembered that some of my favorite 19th century novels appeared first as serials in magazines. So, in the hopes that having a bit of an audience might prompt me to do the nitty-gritty fictional work of cleaning this thing up, I've decided to start publishing it in bits here on this blog.


You'll find the work deals with themes I'm generally obsessed with: addiction, romance, mystery. If you feel so moved, please comment on it-- I need all the encouragement I can get.





The Arcana - Chapter 1 - Laney Mitchell's Life Sucks


The Arcana are the mysteries of sex and death, masculine and feminine, transmutation and evolution.  They’re movements in the dance of love and power that pervades all space and time.  They’re the major figures of the Tarot. No one on the deep journey escapes the Arcana. They visit you, they change you, and they either call forth from you your deepest gifts or they rush you into complete despair. The outcome depends on you, but the visits themselves are fated.  They commence the moment you step out of your coded, familiar world and into the vast unknown.  Each mystery has its own initiation and crisis; its own secret and trial.  You are always The Fool. - John Dee, blog post March 2011


Laney Mitchell’s life sucked.  Not sucked a little, as in, “Oh, some things haven’t happened that I would have liked to have happened” but sucked a lot, as in “Nothing about my life is going well at all.”


Growing up, Laney passionately fell in love all the time.  Falling in love, excessively and madly was her major forte.  Her first romantic relationship was with a young man ostensibly named Draco, who lived in Vermont, whom she met in an AOL horror movie fans chat room.  Laney did not at all like horror movies.  Except for A Clockwork Orange, which the world in general did not count as a horror movie, but which Laney did because the violence in it terrified her.  She liked Alex in A Clockwork Orange.  She loved his one eye, with false eyelashes on the bottom and upper lid, the way it made his one eye seem so lurid and alert and menacing while his other eye looked so normal and fresh.  While she hated the violent scenes, she loved the threat of violence in Alex’s eye, the mad look in it.


The young man in Vermont whom she met in the horror fans chatroom called himself Draco and identified with dragons.  By regular mail he sent her pictures of himself, and a lock of his chestnut-flat brown hair which he sprayed with his cologne.  When Laney opened, alone in her bedroom, the envelope that he had sent with his hair in it she swooned with joy.  Other things that made Laney swoon with joy were bees and hunger.  Laney loved bees not only because they threatened to sting her, but because they made honey, which seemed like an excessively generous thing for them to do.  She knew that theoretically the bees made honey for themselves, but she never saw pictures of them eating the honey, only making it, so it seemed to her that the honey-making enterprise of bees was exclusively altruistic.  Laney loved hunger because she liked the gnawing, empty pain in her stomach to match the gnawing, empty pain that she carried with her in her heart most of the time, when not presented with cologne-doused locks or bees.


At twenty, Laney had no advantages. She wasn’t pretty. In the least.  In fact, she was the kind of awkward-chubby-and-pimply that you’re supposed to out grow at age thirteen. On top of this, she was intensely, acutely, insanely sensitive.  The kind of sensitive that you’re supposed to out grow at age four.


She lived with her alcoholic mother in a small rent-subsidized apartment in the Highland Park neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Laney’s mother, Joan, wasn’t just alcoholic— she was a mean alcoholic, and obese. Her meanness focussed mostly on Laney, who was the only one around to take it.  Joan had never married Laney’s father, Mickey, a day laborer and glam rocker who now lived in New York City.  Joan hated herself and she hated her daughter and she didn’t care much who knew it. Joan got a tiny disability check each month (bad back) and used it  to buy cheap gin, rolling tobacco, and frozen Hungry Man Sports Bar dinners.


Laney’s meals came from the neighborhood Thai restaurant, the Happy Turtle,  where she worked as a waitress.  That part of her life wasn’t so bad.  The owner of the store, Mai, was a good-natured middle-aged lady who felt compassion for Laney and didn’t get upset with her even when she was discombobulated and slow.  Which she often was.  She wasn’t a very good waitress.  Waitressing is a far more demanding profession than most people like to acknowledge, a job which makes all sorts of demands on one’s social skills, short-term memory and co-ordination, none of which Laney had in ample abundance.  She spilled soup while trying to serve it, forgot to refill people’s waters, and out of shyness sometimes waited so long to approach a newly-seated group at a table that the group would just get up and leave.  Still, Mai was kind about it and when Laney cried as she went home at the end of every shift, part of what made her cry was how touched she was by Mai’s patience.


Very vivid dreams


Though Laney had little to offer by way of physical charms (well, maybe we’re being too quick about this— she did have some notable features that could be potentially engaging to a very singular type of taste, namely: large, watery blue eyes,  a snub nose, plump knees, and wealth of red hair that went all the way to her waist), she did have a great deal to offer in terms of soaring, throbbing, obsessive adulation.


Also, she suffered from very intense dreams.


Some people have boring dreams.  They dream that they go to the grocery store and buy furry kiwis, or that they forget to send an important email, or that they’re having sex with a porn star.  These kinds of dreams are just the ordinary human mind coping with its routine pleasures, anxieties, desires.  They’re mild kind of dreams, at just the surface of the unconscious.  They happen at a kind of low volume, and they’re pastel-colored.  Nothing smells too strongly in these kinds of dreams, not the kiwis or the porn stars.  Everything at this level of the mind is a little plastic and a little lame.


Laney never dreamt at a low volume.  She often awoke to her alarm in a sweat, feeling fatigued as if she’d been physically carrying out the work of her night’s journey.  Her dreams were overwhelming, loud, tidal.  They ensnared her in epic expeditions, bullied her into tremendous sagas, and rode her through scenes of pulsing, riveting emotional intensity.  In the morning she’d often sob and moan with grief, still suffering the pain of seeing one of her dream comrades die.


The most brilliant and shocking dream Laney ever had concerned a geode.


Laney dreamt that she was the pageant director for religious plays inside a giant cathedral.  She lived in the attic of this giant cathedral— she had a small moppet of a dog and a rusty red tea kettle there on a little wood stove — but it wasn’t a normal Christian cathedral.  It was something else, something pagan.  The stain glass windows depicted Dionysus instead of Christ— lots and lots of grapes, barrels of wine.  Her mission, as pageant director, was to put on plays that would inspire the audience and remind them of their faith, of the miracles in everyday life.  Accordingly, Laney designed a little presentation in which a geode stood on a tall pedestal.


A young boy would throw a rock at the geode, thus knocking it off its pedestal and onto the floor.  In its fall to the floor from its pedestal, Laney estimated, the geode would break open and the ordinary-appearing stone would reveal its magical wealth of crystals inside.  Laney reasoned that this breaking-open of the geode would be a thrilling sight for the crowd, and a reminder of divinity’s sometimes-hidden but ever-present splendor.  Yet when the time came to present the pageant and all the congregation assembled in the cathedral attic to see Laney’s show, the little boy threw the rock at the geode and the geode fell and broke open, but when it broke open, it didn’t just reveal its internal amethyst.


No, instead, a very fat and tender green shoot, about the width of an arm, unfurled rather lewdly from the center of the broken geode.  The shoot swelled into a bud.  The bud plumped and gradually, luxuriously, opened up into a light-blue lotus flower the size of a kiddie pool, which proceeded to revolve very slowly in the air.  Then, adding perplexity to perplexion, another tender green shoot emerged from the center of the lotus.  This shoot turned into a long, tall stem and then eventually bloomed into the cup-like form of a lily.  Out of the open mouth of the lilly spouted a fine mist of glitter and it also began to revolve.  The glitter hung motionless in the air surrounding the revolving flowers.


The cathedral audience in Laney’s dream stood up and gawked.  They pointed at the spinning floral shimmering affair and began to shout at her: “Mirablis! Mirablis!” until Laney’s guts shook with fear.  She realized that they were accusing her of being a miracle-worker.  “I didn’t do it!” she cried back at them, “I didn’t plan for those flowers to pop out! They weren’t supposed to!” but the crowd rushed at her and lifted her up on their shoulders, carrying her downstairs to the cathedral altar in order to annoint her.  Laney woke from that dream in a cold sweat.  She had a sense that the dream meant something deeply significant, but she wouldn’t allow her conscious self to know just what that significance might be.  Something inside her heart, though, said that the dazzling appearance of the flowers signaled a tremendous birth of magic in her own soul, and that the dream meant that she could complete the great work of self-realization in this lifetime, that she could succeed in becoming unconditionally loving.


Laney secretly longed to heal the whole world but didn’t dare believe that she could be someone capable of achieving that healing.  She hated the greed and injury she saw everywhere, but she felt too weak and too small to combat it.  The only way she could understand all the hard-heartedness she saw around her was to imagine that people who behaved cruelly had themselves somehow been treated very badly somewhere along the way.  She suspected that the world could be a shining and delightful place to live if only this cycle of cruelty could be broken, if only no one ever had to have her heart stomped upon.


The stomped-on heart


Laney’s own heart had been stomped upon when she was seven years old.  That was when Mickey, her father, left the small apartment that he shared with Laney and Joan.  When Laney was a very little girl, Mickey had seemed to her the most loveable and thrilling creature in existence.  He took her for long walks in the woods and taught her how to tell regular grass apart from onion grass, which was greener and taller and tasted like garlic when you chewed on it.  He showed her how to find daddy long legs in piles of rocks, and told her that she was a princess.  That’s ordinary stuff that fathers do, but Laney wasn’t an ordinary girl.  She was a girl extraordinarily capable of imagination and love, and she fully believed Mickey when he said she was really a princess and he was a king, even though no one else knew it.  This secret knowledge that Mickey and Laney shared of their underground nobility colored all of Laney’s childhood world and made the nonsensical pain of living make sense.  When the other kids in the neighborhood teased her for not liking to play rough games or for being bad at sports, Laney just had to remember that she was a princess, therefore different from the rabble, and didn’t have to feel bad that she was so different from the others.  She could go home and have her father sing to her before bed and feel magnificent and adored in his eyes.


When Mickey left because the screaming fights he was having with Joan got to be too bad, he made efforts to stay connected with Laney.  He tried to get custody of her, but Joan prevented him, showing the court photos she had of Mickey cross-dressing in eyeliner and high-heels for glam rock shows and doing cocaine with his buddies.   Every time Mickey showed up to pick up Laney for a weekend visit to the zoo or an ice cream shop, Joan would make sure than she and Laney weren’t at home.   Mickey would sit outside waiting on the stoop of the apartment building until the landlord would make him leave.  The sad thing about Mickey was that he didn’t have much perseverance.  He could have fought harder for Laney, but he didn’t.  After months of struggling with a resentful and drunk Joan to get a chance to see his daughter, he gave up.  He got more into drugs and more into music.  He moved to New York City.  He sent letters to Laney which Joan burned.  Whenever Laney asked Joan about her father, Joan just told her that her father was a creep and didn’t care about her.


Laney’s very large, very sensitive, and very delicate heart was dealt a near-fatal blow by her father’s departure.  Without Mickey in her life, Laney couldn’t maintain the make-believe that she was a princess.  She succumbed to thinking she must really be what all the other kids said she was: a loser, a weirdo, a freak.


The magical power


Laney’s dreams were right, though.


She had magical power and potential.


Laney’s power wasn’t anything flashy or dramatic.  It was something that all of us have, but which very few of us are aware of.


Laney could heal things and people and situations with the love inside her.  And this kind of healing wasn’t just the kind that fixes something that’s broken— it was the kind that could actually evolve beings into higher versions of themselves.


Stay tuned for our next installment...




5 Ways NaNoWriMo Can Save Your Soul

My Own NaNo Experience

Even though NanoWrimo has been happening for years, very few of my astute friends seem to know about it.  So I'll just lay it out: it's National Novel Writing Month (i.e., November) an internet happening wherein people from all over the world get together on and do their best to bang out 50,000 words (about 150 pages) in 30 days.

I've been meaning to participate for years but kept putting it off. I was slogging through a (rather ill-fated) dissertation, which I told myself was a practical pursuit.  So I put my novelling dreams on the back-burner.  Well, screw that.

Now that I've decided I shall never touch my dissertation again and have invited the halls of academe to collectively kiss my ass, I'm having the time of my life with writing.  I started two weeks late (I was too wrapped up in Occupy Pittsburgh stuff).  But after bronchitis sidelined me from Occupying, I got down to the nitty gritty.

I still intend to reach the 50,000 word count by November 30, though. And this means that I need to write 3000 words a day.  3000 words a day?! Of fiction?! My brain says. I'm so not used to this pace.  But I've done it for the past three days in a row, and it feels great. Better than great.  It feels like being a rock star. Or at least a self-published Kindle star.  Which turns out to feel pretty damn bangin', also.

I'm up to 9,205 words. What am I writing? That's a great question.  I'm not exactly sure.  I set out to write metaphysical / visionary fiction a la The Celestine Prophecy, but yesterday while writing it occurred to me that what I'm doing is a lot more like Tom Robbin's Still-life with Woodpecker than anything overtly "spiritual" or "enlightening."  In other words, my book is absurdist and extreme and philosophical and rather funny-- which I am totally okay with.  I actually feel like I've met myself again.  You see, I usually go through life thinking that I'm not especially hilarious.  Because I'm not really a witty-quips kind of girl.  But I did write two-prize winning comedy plays back in my playwrighting era.  And as it turns out, my knack is for funny situations. Wow, it feels great to remember that.

I feel so great after my three days of NaNo'ing, that I decided to suggest ways that doing it might save your soul, too (it's not too late to jump on board! or to get psyched for next year!):

5 Ways NaNoWriMo Can Save Your Soul

1) It can reconnect you to all those bizarre, arcane interests that you've been shoving off to the side.  How does this happen? Well, you're trying hard to meet your word quota for the day while making a main character interesting, so you assign him the first job-description that pops into your head: "Pittsburgh's only successful alchemist" and then you get to spend a half hour on wikipedia reading up on the lost art of turning lead into gold.

2) It can bring you together with others! And by this I mean, NaNoWriMo gives you something to talk about on Twitter. - I don't know about you, but oftentimes I feel stumped for things to say to the Twitterverse.  In my life last year, back when I was a humble private citizen instead of the attention-whoring authoress I am today, this would not have concerned me.  But the importance of getting down with social media in order to spread the word about my bad self has been so drummed into me that now I actually feel guilty if I go days with out tweeting.  My real life friends think that this is a pathology specific to me, but I know you tweeps out there in interweb lands dig what I mean. Well, the rad thing about NaNo is that I can just search for the #nanowrimo tag and instantly find lots of other brilliant creatures to commiserate and celebrate with.

3) It gives you something to do on dreary, ugly, cloudy, yucky November days.  Today, my whole dreary day was made better just by reading Tom Robbin's irreverent novelling advice in the NaNoWriMo pep talk acrhives: "A topic is necessary, of course; a theme, a general sense of the nexus of effects you’d like your narrative to ultimately produce. Beyond that, you simply pack your imagination, your sense of humor, a character or two, and your personal world view into a little canoe, push it out onto the vast dark river, and see where the currents take you. And should you ever think you hear the sound of dangerous rapids around the next bend, hey, hang on, tighten your focus, and keep paddling—because now you’re really writing, baby! This is the best part."

4) It lets you feel like a kid again.  -- The breakneck speed of NaNo'ing doesn't leave much room for literary pretensions to grip you.  You just gotta go go go, baby. And that turns out to be incredibly freeing and way more fun than trying to write The Great American Novel.  In fact, please never try to write The Great American Novel. It's a pretty sure fire-way to end up crazed in a Hollywood dive or with a shotgun in your mouth

5) The sense of accomplishment can re-affirm your belief in yourself. - If you're anything like me, you put off great artistic aspirations because-- well, they're so great that they just seem too hard.  This means that you never get started. NaNoWriMo is so beautiful because it heavily lowers the bar. Not only do you not have to write the Great American Novel, you can just write "something that doesn't make you want to throw up," as NaNo founder Chris Baty likes to put it in his excellent and encouraging guide, No Plot, No Problem.

Interview on Andrew Long's Excellence Blog



The charming Andrew Long posted an interview with me over on his razor-sharp blog, Excellence: being an account of one man's obsession with a concept.


Andrew asked me some deep questions and I surprised myself with some of the answers. He got me talkin' 'bout everything from the Occupy movement to the malaise of early success. Come check out the interview right here.


Also, you should definitely read Andrew's recent essay on The Promise of Infinite Economic Growth, because there he lucidly explains how the very premise of our economy is oh-so-tenuous and deserves questioning.

Guest post!


Dear fabulous writer,


Awesome Your Life gets 1,500 new readers a month! Whoah! I want to spread the happy, so I've been thinking that I'd love to start publishing great guest posts here on Awesome Your Life.


My readers are interested in personal and societal evolution and in the "dreamy side of life"-- so any thoughtful essays / how-to's that you've got that has to do with dreams, higher consciousness, astrology, myth, theater, ritual, neo-shamanism, tantra, positive thinking, psychic phenomenon, self-improvement, societal change, holistic health, online entrepreneurship, gift economy, tarot, creativity, etc. would be totally welcome.  It's fine with me if the article has already appeared on your own blog. I'm all for syndication.


Please go ahead and send me your post a long with a brief bio in the body of an email to sweetsongofjoy at gmail dot com. Let the piece be between 500 - 1000 words. I'll get back to you promptly to let you know if your post will be a perfect fit.


Love! Carolyn

Letters to a Young Dream Warrior - Letter #2


[Read the first letter here.]


Dear X,


So it seems to you that either you win over the gatekeepers or you fall flat.  You win or you lose. I offered to you that there's a third possibility: surrender. Leave the game.


What does this leaving entail? First, it requires a clear recognition that you cannot "win" the gatekeeper's game.


How is this true? It's true because even if you bluffed incredibly well for many years, even if you got through the initial hurdles and mastered the whole act, the prize that you would ultimately earn would be this: a life of quiet desperation, hiding your great light, becoming a gatekeeper yourself-- becoming someone so personally invested in the system that he defends it vigilantly, even in the face of its evident wrongs. Is this what you really want? Is this outcome made fully palatable because it comes with a garnish of social respectability and prestige?


Second, leaving the game entails recognizing the fact that any failures you've had thus far in the gatekeeper's game do not mean that you are valueless or a "loser."  In fact, they signify that your value exceeds the ordinary.  You have something to offer that exceeds calculable commodities and quantities. This excess of your being is sacred; it is precious-- it's also incredibly disturbing to people and to institutions who have built themselves up on a foundation of measurement and control.  Why? Because what is sacred about you can't be measured; can't be controlled; can't be quantified; can't be commodified.  It isn't predictable or mechanical.  It's disruptive and potent and beautiful.


In other words, if you have a powerful soul, gatekeepers won't like you because they can sense that there's something about you which puts their methods and their smallness to shame.


At this moment, monetary wealth is concentrated in the hands of these people and institutions who value control, measurement, security, debt.  You're not wrong in the recognition that you might have to do without monetary wealth for a time if you choose not to pursue the acceptance and approval of the gatekeepers. You're not wrong to see that you might have to live very frugally and without the comforts and safety nets of someone who's playing by the rulebook. This thought might frighten you; this thought might frighten your family and your friends.  But let's think through it in earnest; let's think about what it means to risk living a life of truth rather than a life of begging for approval.


We mistakenly tend to imagine that our work in this life is to fulfill our ego's goals and demands: become important, secure, powerful, insulated from possible harm.  But this is a way of spiritual stagnation and death.  It's a fear-driven and control-obsessed path.  Follow it and you'll find yourself one day depressed, sick, filled with anxiety and loneliness.  It's the modern dilemma and the modern mistake.


In truth, our real work in this life is to fulfill the aims of our soul, not our ego.  The soul asks that we become humble, vulnerable, intimate and connected-- it asks that we always be open and available to express love, that we give our gifts freely and receive freely from others.


In my own exit from the game (which has been a slow process), I decided that I would never again insult my soul by pretending to believe something I did not or by doing work that did not resonate with me as deeply important.  I decided I would stop lying, even if it meant losing all respectability and support from the people who had previously respected and supported me as long as I went along with their game.  I decided that I would devote my energy to creating stuff which would give to others something that I truly wanted to give.  And then I started giving it away. And since then I've been enriched immeasurably with friendship; with gratitude; with community; with love.


So that, Dear X, is my suggestion to you.  Don't ask yourself, "What can I do to be respectable and secure?" because in a world where the reigning institutions and people are corrupt and petty, respectability and security are for souls too timid to tell the truth loudly.  Ask instead, "What would it most thrill me to give?" and then get to work on giving that.


If you are fully honest with yourself about the answer to this question you'll find that gates will fly open in front of you.  The universe will stop at nothing to help you bring forth the gift it most truly delights you to give.


Many of us get so confused about this because we've been hypnotized by the myths of specialization and professionalization.  For instance, I always knew that it most thrilled me to give to others the gifts of knowledge and empowerment through writing and teaching.  For years, though, I was gravely confused-- I thought I needed a very specialized degree and approval from hard-to-please gatekeepers in order to give this gift.  What I finally realized was that I needed no authority to make me a writer and a teacher apart from the authority of my own soul; I didn't need to appeal to gatekeepers, I needed to appeal to other people who hungered for beauty and truth as I did. As soon as I took full responsibility for my inner authority, the opportunity to publish on a wide scale came to me.


As you do the labor of readying your gift; as you give forth your gift; as you do it day after day with great love-- you may find that all your needs are being met, but that you receive this need-meeting indirectly.  In other words, people may not pay you directly for the gift you're offering, but support comes to you in other ways. This happens because our society only knows how to pay directly for quantifiable commodities, and the gifts of the soul can't be quantified. Still, as you give support comes to you-- in ways you can't control or predict-- in ways that are more perfect than you could arrange for.


The support comes because by choosing to give your deep gift loudly and fearlessly without asking for permission or approval, you're living in the gift, you're living in grace.  You've surrendered.  You're no longer living by the sensible and measurable but by the magical and synchronistic.


Perhaps this answer raises more questions for you. Let me know what they are and I'll endeavor to meet them.






Like the essay? Put your name and email in the form below to receive the Genius Updates letter, which is more of the goodness, straight to your inbox.


Letters to a Young Dream Warrior - Letter #1


Dear X,


You want to know: how do I thrive in the world while also realizing the deep potentials of my being which seem to have nothing to do with money-making and being respectable out there in the fray?


These are deep questions whose answers take us into the heart of what it means to be a dream warrior, to be one who works to realize the truths of the heart and the beauty of the imaginal realm on this physical plane even in the face of onslaughts from materialism, mechanistic science, and the whole paradigm of separation (a conglomeration of devouring joylessness which I like to call the Nothing).


First, let's consider your dilemma.


Everywhere you turn you find there are gatekeepers: for employment, for education, for anything.  The main thing the gatekeepers seem to want from you is that you agree with them and the world they've created-- and not just a token agreement, but a permeated, soaked-through agreement.  They want you to be as saturated with their ideology as the balls of dough in gulab juman are saturated with sugar syrup. They want to see evidence that your whole life and soul is devoted to it, to them, to the Nothing.


At interviews, in applications, the gatekeepers come up close and breathe you in deep.  They are smelling out how much of you is theirs.  If they find an off-note, a fragrance of dissent or noncompliance in your being, you see yourself shut out from the shelter of their institutions and their money.  If you are a dream warrior, as you are, they certainly detect it and recoil in fear.


So they've sniffed you and you didn't pass the test.  They could sense the stirring of wakefulness in you, the aura of resistance and questioning that you've tried to repress.  They rejected you despite your best efforts to fit in. Now you don't have access to their credentials; their money; their approval.


Is this terrifying? Yes.  But less so if you remember that the institutions and the money are losing power anyway.  The gatekeepers can't even afford now to shelter the ones who have soaked themselves completely in compliance.  There are people being turned down for work and education who have denuded their lives and souls of everything but what the gatekeepers said they wanted-- and now these people, too, are turned out into the cold.


At least you have not done this great violence to yourself.  At least you kept the truth and beauty alive in you, you have fostered it and nurtured it-- so you are not the most unlucky.  You still have this wealth, and this -- though it may not appear so at the moment -- is very great wealth indeed.  Perhaps most valuable of all is your love.  Your love which is not sentiment or romance but rather a form of wise vision, the perception of your heart.


The intimations you have of magic and loveliness, of wonder and agonies, these are precious and these will fuel your life in the new world that you are about to help bring forth.


Right now this is hard to see.  Right now you are full of bitterness.  "I wanted a job," you think. "I wanted to support myself. To contribute.  Now what do I have? What can my perception of loveliness yield me but a handful of poems that no one will want to read? What will magic get me but more scorn and abuse?"


More than anything, though, it astounds you that the people of our world do this to themselves: that they demand of each other and of us only the boring, the utilitarian, the violent, or the prurient.  Not given to violence or extremes of lust, you sought to cooperate by offering the utilitarian.  But you could only go along with it for so long: leaping through the hoops they set up-- and now you find yourself unable to leap anymore.  Your leap failed.  It failed not because of your vice but because of your virtue: your soul is too thrilling, too rich, too deep and too broad to be limited to the prescribed tasks of business as usual.


Now you have a choice of what to do. It seems to you like you only have two choices: Try again to please the gatekeepers and win this time or just be a failure and a burden, someone who lives on the edges of society, someone who goes mad.


It seems like winning or losing are the only possibilities.  You either fool the gatekeepers and reap their rewards or you land flat on your face and get nothing.


But there's a third choice open to you.  You could choose neither to win nor to lose but to surrender completely.


What does surrender look like?  It looks like leaving the game altogether. And what does that mean? It primarily means to stop understanding yourself in the terms of the game.  This is internal work.  This is dream warrior work.  It is very far from being easy and it takes constant vigilance.  But it is work which from the first day you undertake it ignites an enormous shift in your experience of the external world, a shift which only snowballs more and more rapidly.


In order to stop understanding yourself in the terms of the game, you have to give up feeling the least bit of shame, self-pity, or resentment for your present condition.  You must learn to take your sense of self-worth not from success or loss within the game but from your own sense of the strength of your heart. You must become willing to offer love and celebration to everything that seems to oppose you or confound you.


Does this sound easy? Are you ready to say to me, "But I already am proud of who I am; I already know that I am right and that the system and the Nothing are wrong." Dear brother, I would reply that you have not truly let yourself know this if you are still suffering, if you ever feel low or conflicted.


When you are fully in your power, when you are replete with joy for the truth that you are, you will feel no trace of this doubt or reservation about yourself.  You will not worry that your inability to garner success in the external world up to this point reflects some secret defect of your own being.  Instead you will see with crystalline clarity the fact that any difficulty you've experienced up to this point has not been your fault at all but the fault of the nightmare that all the sleepers are projecting, the nightmare of separation and scarcity.


When next I write, I will tell you my own methods for reaching and maintaining this condition of repletion.  In the mean time, I ask you to begin by hurling a strong refusal against all the voices that tell you that you have failed and you are wrong.


Refuse to accept any judgment which would say to you that the gatekeepers' rejection of you signified that you did not try hard enough or did not do well enough.  You did exceedingly well. You preserved the fragrance of beauty and truth in your being.  You are our hope for a future that is truly, radically different from the present.  You are winning at a level that those who are still asleep in the nightmare cannot comprehend.  You, O Dreamer, are perfect.


Love, Carolyn






The Start of My Dream Journal - Dream #1: The Pet Store

The Decision I've decided to start keeping a public dream journal.  I'm always going on and on to my students online and offline about the importance of keeping a dream journal in their commonplace books, and I fully believe in being the example for those I'm working with, but it's sort of hard to let them see me walking my walk when my dream journal is a secret little thing I keep under my pillow.




But laying out the contents of my subconscious mind for all to see is a rather radical thing to do, isn't it?


It is, but my heart tells me to "be a transparent rose" so that's what I'm doing this morning and all mornings for the next 7 weeks. I'm lacing myself together with rosy-fingered dawn in order to tell you some tales straight outta my subconscious.


So here's a bit of what happened in dreamworld last night.  It's the tale end of a dream.  I woke up at 6:00 am, my alarm going off, with my most urgent thought being "I have to quiet that alarm before it disturbs my partner" rather than "I have to remember my dream."  Having an urgent thought like that, I notice, disrupts my dream-memory process. So I only remembered the last little bit of what I sense was a much larger dream.


The Dream

Here's what I remember: I see an elderly man, homeless.  He wants to get into a pet store to use the rest room.  The door to the pet store is locked even though there are employees inside. The employees won't let him in.  The elderly man enlists the help of a little boy to trick the door open.  Somehow, the boy is able to open the door.  He props the door open with a little trash basket which has magical door-propping properties.  The elderly homeless man goes in and uses the rest room.  I wake up.


The Feelings, The Associations

I felt identified with the elderly homeless man. Earlier in the day, when driving out of a shopping center, Dey and I saw a man standing on a traffic island, holding a sign around his neck that said "Homeless."  Also earlier in the day, I'd been getting angry about income disparity in the US, thinking about Occupy Wall Street and had posted this Thomas Jefferson quote to facebook:

‎"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs".

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

So Thomas Jefferson is talking about homelessness engendered by corporations and financial institutions that are threatening our American liberties.  And I'm seeing homeless people. And the folks occupying Wall Street are camping out in a park, without a roof. And I feel identified with them, too.


Why was it a pet store? Well, I'm in love with a little pomeranian named Sparkle who lives in the window of a pawn shop on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.  She's always alone in there at night with the DVDs and funky old electronics, behind the half-shattered window.  I can't get to her.  No one is loving her and cuddling her at night. I feel like she's homeless, too.  So the pawn shop isn't exactly a pet store, but it holds a pet (Sparkle).


So the old man in my dream was homeless and breaking in to a place that I associate with homelessness (the pawn shop / pet store).  I feel afraid of homelessness, poverty, the condition of the outcast.


The wily little boy is a mystery to me. Who's he?


The Mystery

This is something I like to do for my dreams-- to make a metaphor out of a mystery in them-- so as to deepen and extend the mystery. The metaphor pattern goes like this: The mystery of ___________ is _____________."


So, the mystery of the little boy who props open the door is an attack at the feet of the rich.


Your Response to Me

Want to offer any insight about what you think my dream means? Post in the comments below.


What to tell me what you dreamed last night? I would love to hear about it and discuss it with you.


Love, Carolyn

Posted on September 26, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.

Use Dreamspeak to Launch Your Mythic Journey

UntitledCreative Commons License photo credit: Pete Radocaj

My book, Awesome Your Life, contains a series of 7 active imagination experiments designed to lead you through a cycle of the mythic journey. Here's the first one:

Experiment 1: The Heart’s Call

In order to start our mythic journey to uncovering our genius, we need to enter into a real and dynamic dialogue with our hearts. Start by writing a letter to your heart, telling it all that’s going on with you now and asking it for guidance.

Now write a response to yourself from your heart’s perspective. In other words, create a letter from your heart to you.  Your heart knows things that your conscious mind doesn’t.  In order to access that intuitive knowing, it will help if you write your letter from your heart to yourself in dreamspeak.

What’s dreamspeak?

Dreamspeak is a mode of language which accesses the same tools of interweaving and meaning-making that our night-time dreams use.  It’s the language of the unconscious.

Dreamspeak has the following characteristics:

1. No use of the “to be” verb. This means that dreamspeak avoids all conjugations of “to be” including be, being, is, are, will be, was, were, and have been. Similar simple verbs which dreamspeak does allow include become, has, have, do, can, will, should, ought, may, remain, and equal.  Dreamspeak excludes “to be” verbs because such verbs have a tendency to imply stasis and absolutely identity where actually the soul knows that only activity and fluidity present themselves.

2. Metaphoric naming.  Dreamspeak disallows conventional or habitual proper names for people and places.  Instead, dreamspeak invites you to coin new names for people and places based on descriptive or associate qualities.  For example, if you’re writing about your friend John in dreamspeak, you would not call him John but perhaps “The Long-Haired Wanderer.”  If you’re writing about Australia, you might rename Australia “Upside Down Land.” Dreamspeak also discourages conventional or habitual names for everyday objects and invites you to coin new names for those, too.  So for example— in dreamspeak you might call a tree a “spreads-forth” or a “tall green.”

3. Allusions. Dreamspeak invites elaborate and associative references to words and things and places you’ve Experimented in books, films, travel, foreign languages, conversation—and, of course, night-time dreams.  If you’ve dreamt recently about being trapped inside an amusement park closed for wintertime with a pack of rabid dogs, you might allude to those dogs and that park in your dreamspeak.  If you’ve been reading books on yoga and you’re fascinated with the Sanskrit vocabulary of yogic practices, you might include some of those words in your dreamspeak.

4. Portmanteaus. In dreamspeak, we’re free to make up new words by combining elements from already-existing words to create new in-between meanings. So if a landscape is both rocky and boring, we might in dreamspeak say that it’s “bocky” or “roring” or even just “bocking.”

5. Neologisms. Go ahead and just plain make up words and expressions.

6. Sensory Amplification. If you get stuck or slowed down in your dreamspeak writing, you might try amplifying upon something that you’ve already noted by describing it with similes that reference all five of the physical senses.  So maybe you’ve written the word “soil.”  You might go on to say, “The soil smells like tar.  It looks like the spit-up of baby plants. It sounds like insects toiling.  It feels like a soft disaster.  It tastes like the end of a night.”

7. Nonlinear. In dreamspeak, there’s no need for a linear narrative or argument to be present.  Feel free to just riff.  You might spiral around a topic or an idea in several different ways.  You might go on wild tangents.  That’s perfect.

8. Puns. Dreamspeak invites puns.  Puns are simultaneously plays on the meanings and the sounds of words or phrases.  Once, puns were considered a very high form of humor—isn’t that hilarious? Well, I at least find it punny.

9. Free association. Maybe you write down “daffodil” and that makes you think of old Victorian daguerreotype pictures, which makes you remember the guy you dated once who was really into those and hated Christmas, which makes you think of how you really love Christmas, which makes you think of your complicity in American consumer junk culture, which makes you think about the soft pretzels and slushies that they sold at Hill’s when you were a kid and your mom took you there and the popcorn was always stale.  So in dreamspeak, go ahead and write about all that: “Daffodil daguerreotype Matt Christmas junk Mother Hill’s layaway pretzel slushies stale.”

10. No fidelity to “reality” required. In dreamspeak, it’s fine to write about or be inspired by “real” events and things, but you’re not at all limited to describing reality.  You have full poetic license to wildly make stuff up.

So, using dreamspeak and writing as if from your heart to your conscious self, discover the following: What does your heart ask you to do? What does it warn you about? What does it know about your potential that you don’t know yet? How is it beckoning you forward to the gift of ecstatic joy? What sounds, smells, sights, places, visions, scents does it invoke in order to call you onward?  How does it address you? What instructions does it give you?

Write for at least 20 minutes, uninterrupted.

Now read over what you've created.  What does your heart want you to do? If it said "wear lilacs until the sun goes down" I suggest doing exactly that, no matter how silly it might sound.

Posted on August 5, 2011 and filed under Creativity, Life Adventure.