Understanding hits like . . .

Not quite a week ago I got an email offering me a chance to take a “30 second quiz” to learn what my biggest success blocker was.  Since I have all sorts of time available to kill, I took the quiz just to see what they said.

When I got the results, I wasn’t particularly impressed.  It looked (to me) like something that could have been written for 20,000 other people all at the same time.  But, something strange happened.  The author of the quiz is also a published self-help writer, and sells her premier book for $19 USD.  Because I had taken her quiz, she was offering me an e-book version of the book FOR FREE if I’d give her an email address to send it to.  I did.

I read the book front-to-back in one day, and got really excited.  It talks about HOW TO USE THE LAW OF ATTRACTION – and walks you through exactly how to perform the mechanical steps to make things happen.  I have used daily affirmations before, and after reading the book I pulled out the list and jumped into re-writing the statements.  Very excitedly, I even told several friends about this “missing link”.  I’ve read the book again once every day since.

Except today.

Something happened today that was a total “bolt from the blue” moment of revelation for me.  I’d just sat down to my computer to read, was still in chapter one of the book, when I learned for myself what is probably the biggest reason why the Law of Attraction has never worked for me – and perhaps never will.

I have no dream.  There is nothing that I can do that I am passionate about.  Oh, there are LOTS of things that I can do – my job history attests to that in spades – but I’m not passionate about any of them.  Never have been.  Looking back into my earliest childhood memories, I can’t remember being passionate about any activity.  There have been several things I’ve done over the years that I’ve been good at – Army Medic, music, math, spiritually assisting others with trauma recovery – but I can’t remember ever having a dream that I’d gladly sacrifice everything else to achieve.

No focus, no goal, no gain.  The law of “Be – Do – Have” comes to mind.  It basically says that in order to have the life you want, you must first figure out what you must do to get that life.  Knowing what you have to do, you now need to figure out what you have to be to achieve that ability to do.  Beingness first, Doingness second, Havingness results.

Learning this about myself makes me feel like a failure on a monumental scale, but I know one thing the feeling doesn’t.  It opens the door to me looking inside myself, and getting to know myself more intimately than ever before, so that I CAN find that passion.  This isn’t the end of my journey, just a fork in the road.

Thinking about dreaming…

I know – I have way too much time on my hands if I have time to waste thinking about what goes on in our heads while we sleep.  Still, I am in a rather unique position to do so, and motivated by one particular dream that I have so often it has become a welcome friend.  I’ve blogged about this friend before – the “Superman” dream where I fly, have perfect health, and no disability.  Between that and my reading of spiritual self-help guides like Joseph Campbell, I think I’m getting some insight.

First, let me be the first to tell you that there is no “mystical” component to dreams.  The fact of dreaming something does not mean that the event is likely to happen.  It is my considered opinion – at this time, at least – that dreams are ONLY useful for getting to know ourselves better.  What makes us tick, so to speak.

With that in mind, let me tell you what a dream really is.  There are three types of dreams: wishes, fears, and solutions.  Solutions are VERY rare.  Most dreams are our subconscious mind trying to express our deepest fears or wishes in ways that we can relate to.  Take my “Superman” dream – in the first 16 years of my life, I was a fairly normal kid.  I played outside, got sprained ankles and bruises.  I gathered some unhealthy and unwanted negative attention because I did not fit in with my peers – my spiritual leanings were much stronger and more focused than theirs.  I’d venture to guess they still are.  However, just before I turned 18, I had my first real, personal, brush with mortality, in the form of the bone tumor in my left leg.  I was on active duty in the US Army, and progressing through a development regimen that was contracted to culminate in Special Forces training.  On the day of the surgery, I went from being as close to an ideal man as I could hope to be, to being someone who would never again be physically exceptional in any way.  I’ve struggled long and hard with that, and still do.  This is expressed by the frequent dream of being Superman – it is my innermost greatest dream to reclaim what was lost in the surgery suite that day.

Let me share something from Joseph Campbell’s book “The Power of Myth”.  This book is a running transcript of an interview between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, and I wholeheartedly recommend reading it – again if you’ve read it before.  I’m on my 4th reading.

Moyers:  A man once told me that he didn’t remember dreaming until he retired.  Suddenly, having no place to focus his energy, he began to dream, and dream, and dream.  Do you think that we tend to overlook the significance of dreaming in our modern society?

Campbell:  Ever since Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams was published, there has been a recognition of the importance of dreams. But even before that there were dream interpretations.  People had superstitious notions about dreams – for example, “Something is going to happen because I dreamed it is going to happen.”

Moyers:  Why is myth different from a dream?

Campbell: Oh, because a dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream.  The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth.  If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group.  If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.

Moyers:  So if my private dreams are in accord with the public mythology, I’m more likely to live healthily in that society.  But if my private dreams are out of step with the public –

Campbell:  — you’ll be in trouble.  If you’re forced to live in that system, you’ll be a neurotic.

Moyers:  But aren’t many visionaries and even leaders close to the edge of neuroticism?

Campbell:  Yes, they are.

Moyers:  How do you explain that?

Campbell:  They’ve moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience.  Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you’ve to work out your life for yourself.  Either you can take it or you can’t.  You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations.  The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience —- that is the hero’s deed.

I’m not trying to say that I’m some sort of hero, just because I’m out of step with mainstream society.  Nor am I saying that I should be a leader.  But, mainstream society is not built out of leaders and heroes – it is built out of sheep.  Followers.  People who prefer conformity to adventure because it is safe.

Incidentally, that is why Hollywood makes hundreds of millions of dollars for mass producing epic adventure stories on film.  It gives the sheep the experience of adventure without the risk or the societal estrangement.  For sheep, it is the perfect escape.

Freaky . . .

After several days in a row with bad weather and migraine complications dumping on each other, I was desperate for some sleep yesterday as my wife left for work.

I actually went to sleep rather quickly – but it didn’t last long. About 2 hours later, I was sitting up from a dream that was so bizarre, and uncannily realistic, that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I spent the rest of the day playing video games to distract myself, yet even when my wife got back home, I still felt as if I’d just awakened from the dream.

It started off as simple as it was ominous. My wife had lost her job because the state had made huge cuts to it’s total budget for higher education. Because she’s tenured, her contract required a year’s severance pay, and she had a year to continue her work while polishing her resume’ and looking for a new job. Still, without a guaranteed income, we were faced with loosing our house. Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from a childhood classmate. The little 1-traffic-light town I grew up in (founded by a war veteran just after the US Civil War) had lost touch with it’s roots, and I was the only honorably discharged veteran of my age group. In fact, there was only one other veteran my age, total. Such is the fact of life in a small town. So, they needed me to “come home”.

I told the caller that I’d consider the idea, but I had 2 conditions. First: I wanted a full-time job as a cop on the city police force, with appropriate benefits. The second was that there had to be a full-time job for my wife in the city annex of the county library (since the county seat is 24 miles away). It only took them 20 minutes to agree to both conditions. That was the end of the dream.

Then things got even more surreal. When my wife got home, she was fit to be tied. Just before she left work, the university president sent out an email to all university employees stating that, because of revenue shortfalls, the state was facing a $1.5 – 2 Billion financial crisis, and as a state regent’s college they had to be prepared to make some painful cutbacks.

I still didn’t get any more sleep until after 1:30 AM this morning.

Breaking rules . . .

I feel a need to elaborate on one point of my earlier blog.  In the text of the blog, I wrote the following:

“Throughout history there have always been those who had to break rules to become what they dreamed of being…”

I do not want to sound like a hypocrite, but I do believe that there is a prerequisite to successfully breaking a rule when it’s necessary.  That prerequisite is this: first living BY THE RULES.

In other words, that earlier blog should not be seen in any way, shape, or form, as an endorsement of non-citizens who enter the United States illegally and then try to force change from within.  Oprah Winfrey didn’t wake up one day and start demanding that she be given a cable TV network to do with as she pleased.  No, she went to college, got a job at a small local TV station, and slowly climbed the  corporate ladder to earn her current place among the world’s wealthiest people.

Those of us already living by the rules in the US have no reason to trust outsiders who enter our country for no obvious reason but to change it.  We have the right, obligation even, to set rules we want to live by.  If you aren’t from here, you have no right to say we can’t live by the rules we choose for ourselves.  That is doubly true if you break our rules just to get here and start complaining about them.

Ask a silly question . . .

Several months ago, my wife asked me a question that has been churning in the back of my mind ever since.  Once in a while I’d even deliberately take it out and play with it.

But, I don’t intend to imply that it was a silly question.  That headline was just a “teaser” to pull you in and get you to read this.  The question itself was legit, and well worth asking.

You see, MOST people only have awareness of whatever experience they have accumulated in the one life they are currently living.  I have openly stated that I have partial recall of several lifetimes, which encompass both genders.  So, one day when my wife was finding her feminine role a bit more difficult than usual to embrace, she asked me if I thought either gender was inherently superior to the other, based on my own experiences.

I’ve been a female factory worker, a male in a lot of different occupations, a native American hunter, a soldier, and a housewife several times.  Somewhere back in the shrouded mists of history I was even a minor noble in a kingdom that no longer exists.  Much like the characters I create in role-playing video games, I seem to like trying on a lot of varied “skins”.

So, I’ll take a stab at trying to address the gender wars from the point of a neutral gamer.  Because, yes, I do consider that “this lifetime” is just a game, for all of us.  That does not mean it isn’t important – but keep in mind that the reason you are playing your role is not inherently even close to the same as why anyone else is playing theirs.

Now, the gender wars.  I see women bickering and complaining that this is a male-dominated society, and I also see women rising to the top of major corporations and national governments.  I see women treated as sex toys, and men reduced to wage slaves.  In fact, the only INHERENT difference between a man and a woman is reproductive function.  No matter what you do to him, a man can’t possibly get pregnant by any natural action.  Reversely, a woman can not possibly get another person pregnant.

Beyond that, there really aren’t any limits other than those you chose to believe.  There never have been.  Some of the most effective spies of WW1 and WW2 were women.  Men and women both work in safety, health care, domestic service, food service, and more.  Throughout history there have always been those who had to break rules to become what they dreamed of being – just take a hard look at what Booker T. Washington had to go through to become the man history remembers.

Also, men and women are both vulnerable to peer pressure, and family pressure.  The number of personal dreams that have surrendered to “being reasonable” is beyond count, and each one was a tragedy.  The world does not need more factory workers – unless that is actually what you want to do.  The world will always need dreamers who reach for the stars – and that is not something men do better than women – or the other way around.

A crazy dream . . .

The last time I slept, I had a dream that was “wayyyyyyy out there”.  Calling it bizarre would be a kindness.

In the dream, I was a professional assassin.  I was “usually” pretty good.  Then I got a job where I had a significant travel to get to the meeting for the details, and when I arrived in the area, I rented a car.  I put my “gear” in the car, in the trunk (or as you Brits would say, in the boot).

After the meeting where I got the assignment, I stopped to fuel the car.  While I was inside the service station paying for the fuel, a car thief nabbed MY RENTAL CAR.

Through the rest of the dream I was frantically chasing that car thief around trying to get my stuff back, so I could go to work.  LOL!

Peculiar dream . . .

I had a dream while sleeping yesterday that was very strange.  I’ve written in the past about dreams where I was flying – in the manner of Superman, not a pilot.  This was one of those, with a twist.

In the dream, I started doing somersaults in the air, then added barrel rolls, and was just generally playing around.  All of that was fine – it got weird when I suddenly started traveling.  First, a slight shift of my gaze to the left, and I’d be over Seattle.  Then a slight shift of my gaze to the right and I’d be over New York.  One or two barrel rolls later my awareness expanded to where I was everywhere – all at once.  There was a calmness bordering on serenity that went with this.  I didn’t freak out until the phone rang and woke me up.  But my heart was pounding and I was bordering on hyperventilating at that point.  If I could have gone back to sleep, I guarantee I would have.