Long ago I had a very important dream; it seemed to show me the big task of my life. I dreamt that I was riding smoothly on a silent sailboat; I, a boy of about 12 at the back of the boat and two handsome young men at the front of the boat. One had black hair and one had blonde hair, maybe both around age 28. At some point without knowing how, I knew the two young men intended to kill me. So silently I slipped into the water. I, the dreamer, felt alarmed because I know a sailboat has a deep keel underneath to keep it upright: I feared for the boy. But I saw him come up and swim toward the shore – with a deep cut in his back. The two young men dove in and swam after him. I saw him run up on the shore into a big brick building and disappear.
As I thought about this dream over time, I came to this basic analysis: the two handsome young men represented: Glamour and Ideals. These could kill the boy. He ran into an institution to hide and find a way to escape.
“Glamour “ is not so hard for me to see as dangerous: people pretending to be something they are not, more than they are; values like amassing money, looking beautiful, that lead to no true strength or health or maturity.
It took me longer to see the dangers in “Ideals”. Examples of Ideals: love everyone equally, sacrifice yourself for the good of others or the Whole, push yourself to accomplish all that’s in you, don’t be lazy, don’t be selfish.
An Ideal can be as full of “ego” and disease as a glamour, it can be just a way to feel important by some cultural standard. A “Hero.” Good girls and good boys are judged by different ideals – maybe good girls are quiet, helpful, self-sacrificing, long- suffering in silence, “pretty/cute”, kind. Good boys are brave in dangerous situations, should make decisions quickly – and accurately! should not cry when hurt, etc. These ideals may put a person in contrast to whatever truth they feel inside themself!
Ideals can crush the real. The ideal should beckon the real, with no judgment. Ideals should be suggestions. The ideal should lure the real with carrots like “expansion,” “increase in creative influence,” increase in energy and life force.” Good things one COULD do.
My life has been very limited – I should say “directed” – by a curvature in my lower back. Because it’s fairly hidden, many times my choices have been misunderstood by others because they cannot see what I’m dealing with. But this has led to a freedom from “How I Look To Others”. i.e. Glamour! Looking good is just not possible for me; I’m lucky if I can look normal! So as I matured, my back problem has freed me from the grips of “Glamour!”
Living by Ideals has also turned out to be too much for me. I’ve usually found that Ideals have to be balanced by appropriateness, by wisdom, by many values opposite the ideal. I’ve had to learn an inner guidance that sets my own unique course, sometimes aiming towards an ideal and sometimes seeming in rebellion to them.
I often feel like the direction of my life is “down” – down to some little acorn inside me, just the true center of what is possible in this particular life. “Enough”: I am enough, imperfect, always growing and learning. I feel the most powerful when I stand neither in looking good nor in being good. Being truthful is the most powerful place to stand.