don’t go back to sleep

Early this morning, I descended a jagged cliff face into the sea. I had to cross a channel, and there was no bridge in sight. I lowered myself down from a soft, green field with the sun at my back. The water below was jewel blue and whipped by a warm wind. My fingers crawled into crevasses, my legs stretched to land with toes curled around the cool stones. My core tensed for balance and each one of the fifty-two tiny bones in my feet knew their purpose as I gripped and grounded myself in a dance with gravity.

Down and down I descended toward the spray, until my feet found boulders lapped by waves. I crouched on all fours, gripping the vertical rock, and scanned for the next place to stand. I kept my weight low and crept sideways to a submerged boulder with the cool current pulling at my ankles, drawing past me as I inched along, stone by stone, toward the swirling blue channel. My senses were alert – eyes scanning the waves and eddies, measuring the depth and speed of the water. I stepped forward until I couldn’t find the next rock. The water was getting too deep, the current too fast to swim across.

I looked up and saw my father and my two siblings watching me, calling me back up to the plateau. “Come back! You don’t have to cross that way! We’ll find a ride across…” I knew that if I kept going I would get swept out to sea. I perched on the rock feeling the water rush around my feet, ankles and calves. I saw their concern, but also their amazement at my agility and fearlessness.

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And then I woke up.

I haven’t been able to get this dream out of my head today. As I climbed, I felt strong and secure in my body. The elements – rock, sea, sun and wind – were invigorating.

I knew that my family was watching me, and I knew that they were somewhat incredulous as they saw the girl who sprains her ankle walking down the sidewalk scaling a cliff face. But for me the cliff face is sometimes easier to move along than the sidewalk. The smooth path has never felt right for me. I think it’s because it doesn’t engage my senses the way the challenge of the cliff does. Stroll does not equal flow. Challenge is required to enter the state of optimal experience, where we feel most alive, where inspiration arises.

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That cliff is calling me, and dreams like this one remind me that it feels good. As I carve out my new path, I’m embracing fear and risk. I’m looking for something that talks to my soul through my body.

I’m not sure if I should have let myself get swept out to sea. I’ve been thinking about the death of self that often begins the Hero’s Journey, and wondering which parts of me need to visit the underworld in order for my soul to resurrect in its full expression. Maybe stepping off that rock would have taken me down to Poseidon’s lair, and who knows what wisdom could arise in the light refracted by the swirling waves.

But maybe the lesson of the cliff was enough. I have been feeling energized all day. I’ll hold on to the feeling of unity with the elements, the embrace of wildness, and the strength that arose from being in this challenging position. I won’t go back to sleep.

“The Breeze at Dawn”  – Rumi

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

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