Children have a special relationship with the imaginal and learn early on to edit their sharing of it with adults. You see, adults draw a hard distinction between what they think is real and the imaginal world of the child. The child plays with and explores the boundaries of real, keeping it flexible, while most adults have hardened those boundaries thus keeping what is contained within trapped and limited. But reality doesn’t care what you and I think of it and doesn’t conform to the ego boundaries that we set for it.
Those who have decided what something is one way or the other have essentially killed any possible alternatives (note that the root for decide is “cide” i.e. to kill). This of course limits ones perspective and thus their options and resources. If we place too many conditions upon reality we eventually build a box of sorts around ourselves– a box born of many killings, many deaths.
When I reflect upon my dreams over the years one particular theme keeps showing up, nightmares of being trapped, contained, boxed in, held back, imprisoned and/or trying to escape. I’ve been trapped in ever constricting tunnels, struggled mightily to fly and stay air born, held down, kept from climbing a mountain, cornered, and lost within caves or endless hallways with no way out.
Something within me desperately wants to be expressed and keeps showing up in my dreams. But what is it? I honor the imaginal, some say to the extreme, but I too have a limit on this, artificially created so as to not look too crazy, or too over the top. After all I have a reputation to keep up and want to maintain the freedom to explore (the world tends to reign you in if you get too far out there).
But nothing new can be found if you remain within the safety of the box. To use another metaphor, no new worlds can be discovered if you’re not willing to sail off the “edge” of the world you’re on, just ask Columbus, Magellan, and Steve Jobs.
I’ve been inside many boxes in my life and what usually keeps me there is the fear of what is outside, I mean, there are Dragons out there! Many an ancient mariner wouldn’t stray too far from shore because of the unknown creatures that lurked many an uncharted sea.
I also don’t like to let go of what I have until I know what’s out there to grab hold of. Using yet another metaphor that resonates for me, it would be like letting go of the trapeze while blindfolded and hoping there’s someone to catch me at the other end of the flight. But risk taking is…well, risky.
Growth and the discovery of new worlds is often like that in that you don’t know what’s out there, you just know that you can no longer stay cooped up in the box any more. Though there may be dragons lurking on the journey, they must be willingly faced for the glory and the wonder of new discoveries. Just think of the fabulous stories that would have been lost if Jason, Odysseus, or Neil Armstrong hadn’t ventured out beyond the safety of land.
For me it’s the imaginal world of my dreams that offers clues that there is something beyond my self and the culturally imposed boundaries and that I need to cast off into its unknowns so as to really see what’s possible.
It is a lonely journey, one because it is very personal and two because there’s little agreement from the rest of the world that the journey is worth it and there’s no guarantee that you’ll survive it. But remaining locked up in this damnable box, or tied to the safe harbored dock, is not what I want my life to be about i.e. there’s no journey if you’re tied to the dock.
“Disturb us, Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves,
when our dreams have come true
because we dreamed too little,
when we arrived safely
because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
we have lost our thirst
for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
we have ceased to dream of eternity
and in our efforts to build a new earth,
we have allowed our vision
of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly to venture on wilder seas
where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
we shall find the stars.
We ask you to push backthe horizons of our hopes;And to push back the futureIn strength, courage, hope, and love.”
–Sir Francis Drake