Friday, November 11, 2011

Time Flies: Be Here Now! (HuffPo Comment)

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -- Douglas Adams

Even as a 9-year-old kid, I felt time was subjective­, and would often think, "What I'm experienci­ng now will be the distant past in what will feel like the blink of an eye" (gives you an idea of what kind of kid I was... :-P ).

Yet, waiting for a delayed train is a nearly unbearable agony to me; I'm drawn up from my book and need to stare down the dark tunnel until the moment a hint of light hits the track. (Then, of course, I can relax and enjoy the book.)

Last year, I read an NPR article called "How to Live Forever" which made a facetious case for trying new things to make time "last longer": Once you are expert at a thing, you can do it automatica­lly, which makes time pass more quickly. The discomfort of trying new things slows you down and makes time drag.

I addressed this in my own blog http://t.c­o/SATuByOt finding that depth and richness of each moment, when one is passionate about one's activity, can create the best of both worlds -- time seems to evaporate in the endeavor, and yet it feels like one has lived through a transforma­tive age in its accomplish­ment.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sleepless -- But Not Dreamless -- in Glasco

This weekend I went upstate to a convent in a tiny town called Glasco, about two hours north of NYC, to do some dream work.

I've been going up here for over ten years, about once or twice a year, on Dream Analysis Retreats. We -- usually a group of four to seven women of a wide range of ages and life experience -- relate and discuss our dreams in Jungian terms.

Dream work is an extremely important part of Jungian analysis, and is one of the surest indicators of healing and growth. After all, your dreams don't lie, so if you believe you have processed some recurring problem or complex, yet the dream symbolizing it continues, then you know pretty well that your psyche is screaming at you that you are not as far along as you'd like to believe.

Likewise, you know you are healing if the dream transforms....

For example, for many years I had a recurring dream about being chased by the Evil Man. I'd lock myself in a room, yet the door wouldn't close, or the lock would be broken, or the door would mysteriously shrink and he would burst right through to attack me.

So what does this symbolize?

For much of my life my thinking (masculine) and feeling (feminine) selves have been at war, and usually the masculine has won out -- as I have talked and rationalized myself into allowing far too many situations that have ultimately harmed me.

Strange as it may sound, it is the strength of the feminine that is required in such situations -- the wisdom that just knows when a thing is wrong, and that knows and cherishes our value just for being ourselves. It is not rational and requires no justification; it simply loves and nourishes. One need never be good enough for it.

Now, as warm and fuzzy as this sounds, if we live only in this feminine womb-scape we would never grow, develop autonomy, or strive towards our dearest dreams and powerful fulfillment. We would never know what we are. So separation, judgment, criticism is necessary -- but without the feminine to softly protect and care for us, the masculine just runs roughshod over us.

Which is how things have been through much of my achingly self-critical life.

As this dream persisted, my therapist would encourage me to talk to the attacker. A crazy idea I thought, and yet in a dream around 2004 (coincidentally, when I started bellydancing) I successfully locked the door against this animus figure, only to decide to open it and talk to him. Far from the insane marauder I expected, he shriveled into a lanky milquetoast who could barely get a word out.

One of the dreams I related this past weekend involved this figure -- but this time, he was a serial killer locked in the bathroom of my childhood home. In the dream, we call the police (psychical reinforcements) to bring him out, but he won't come out. The cops tell me to call his name -- but I can't remember it, which surprises my mother because "he has been living with us for so long."

So, clearly this problem persists in me -- but it has changed. He is no longer attacking; he has now reverted to pure vulnerable boyish silence. Seems he is more scared of me than I am of him. And perhaps he is not so happy with me for forgetting his name...

So that was the realization I had during the first evening of the Dream Retreat, and went to bed pondering it -- unable to think of anything else, actually.

I started to drift off around midnight, hoping to get up around 7:30 and go running along the beautiful trail up there.

But barely an hour later, a frenzied thumping, knocking, banging slammed me awake. And I had forgotten my earplugs!

And this continued through the night: I'd start to sleep for maybe a half-hour, and then -- WHAM, SLAM, BOOM!!

Around 4am I crawled out to the fire escape to see if I could figure out what was causing this...  I knew the nuns had been having some work done. Was there a tarp on the roof? Some loose cord, cable, rope? (Something I could use to hang myself maybe?!?!)

As the sleepless, dreamless Night of Misery continued, I bargained:  I'd turn off my alarm. If I missed the morning session, then so be it. But if I was still awake when the sky got light, then I'd go out running, no matter how miserable I felt.

The latter won out.

As the sun bleached its way through the venetian blinds, I was a knot of restless anguish -- all the more miserable because I did not have a dream to share. But I dragged myself up anyway and got dressed around 7am.

I'd be OK, I told myself (but I brought my mobile just in case...)

The day was absolutely stunning. A bit frosty, but no longer windy. On auto-pilot, I chugged up the gravel road towards the labyrinth about a mile away. I made a left onto a paved road and hoofed down to the town's main drag, Route 32.

Starting to feel a bit better, I finally came to my second-favorite part of the run: A tight little enclave of McMansions along Joseph's Drive with streets named Canterbury Drive, Lancelot Drive and Camelot Court.

Usually I go straight through on Joseph's, which takes me right back to the convent. But suddenly I was feeling better -- much better -- better than I had in weeks, actually. And those street names were just so darned charming!

So I took a left on Canterbury, figuring it would loop me straight back to Joseph's, but instead I ended up on Lancelot which twisted around, leaving me completely disoriented.

I pulled out my Android, figuring Google Maps would get me out of this. No such luck.

I ran back a few houses, then returned to where Lancelot had left me. I saw a single green street sign to my right. I ran up to it.

And this is what I saw.

Carol Ann's Way

"You do realize, don't you, that this sounds like a very interesting dream?" a good friend observed as I related the story some time later.

Yes, indeed it was....

It had all the elements:  Misery, anguish, running, joy, bliss, being lost (and lost among such mythically resplendent names!) -- and finding my way -- yes MY way, at a time -- and in a "way" -- that I had least expected.