Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Midsummer Dream

photo by A. Kaiser
I recently officiated for the first time at a very dear friend's wedding and was honored with the opportunity to give a short talk on their behalf to introduce the grand event.  What a wedding it was.

When I give a talk, my first care is for those whom I'm addressing; how do I speak so as to give something that might be of value to the good folks in front of me?  In this case, it's also, how do I honor my friend and her wonderful guy; I want them to be happy they asked me.

I produced several drafts of my speech, searching for meaning and brevity combined so I have some bits left over I can use here.  What I left out was mostly about projections in romantic relationships, realizing, though I find this topic fascinating, my audience might appreciate getting on with the ceremony and perhaps to the cocktail hour.  At least reading is voluntary, so here are those thoughts:

Carl Jung, the famous psychiatrist of a hundred years ago said that for many people, romantic love and sometimes even marriage is really a fantasy based on the perfect picture of the other that each person is projecting.  “My prince, my princess”, but as the shine wears off over time and they gradually fail to live up to each other’s projected expectations, the fireworks begin.

It takes time to find out who another person is at the soul level; many people are too caught up in building a fairy tale life to take the time to know each other.

The naked truth of marriage is not that “the two shall become one” but that the two shall become three, whether they have children or not, the two becomes three.  I have my soul journey to walk, my husband or wife has his or hers.  Neither of us has a right to impose projections on the other.  But there is a third in a good relationship, it’s the spirit of who we become together, the partnership itself is a life force, if we walk our soul paths together with love and understanding, it only gets better through the years.

What I love about following a dream practice is that it's easier to recognize and own my projections, thereby sparing myself and others much grief.  Here's a real life example:

Last September I had the absolute good fortune of attending a Michael Franti concert at a very small venue where I was in the front of a crowd of just a few hundred adoring Franti fans, myself included.
In my opinon, Michael Franti has it together and is an emissary of Love. Most Franti fans are pretty cool, they're on the same vibe.

But there was this one woman right behind me who had obviously been to a long cocktail hour before the show and who had a passionate, therefore drunkenly unleashed, projection on to Michael's drummer.  She was screaming for the drummer, lost in the fantasy that he would complete her if only he would return her singular devotion.   As she was screaming the poor guy's name through Michael's songs I finally gave her a look that said, "please be more respectful of all of us"  and she did quiet down some, thankfully.  She was lost inside her own projection that night and she wasn't really present with the crowd, the music and the artists.  

Perhaps this woman, lost inside this pigment of her own infatuation, really wants to be African and play the drums like that?  She's plainly not aware that she doesn't know this man who may have a perfectly good family/love partner to go home to and may not appreciate silly, screaming, inappropriate fans.  This is an example of a relationship projection that's pretty common in pop-idolatry culture, but it can also serve to illustrate the dynamic of personal relationships, up close, in the family model
As a therapist and counselor and as a friend, the issues I've heard related again and again are about relationships, especially, romantic ones, happy or ones gone bad.  The counsel of dreams, in my experience and that of countless dreamers I've heard say the same, is that you must, as Jung would put it, mind your own Shadow first, the dark and the light. I've written an intro to the Shadow archetype here.

What made me truly happy as I officiated my friend's wedding is that she and her partner have been together for nine years and have stripped away much of those early mutual projections.  I don't know how else it can be done.  It takes time to know another and to know oneself.  The good news about relationships is that loving is a lot lighter and more fun when the personal projections are cleared.  

I had such a wonderful time at this wedding and so did everyone else there, that I thought you'd enjoy seeing a picture of my young friend with her beloved.

Wish you all a very blessed Summer Solstice season. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

You Have A Dream

by Tom Feelings
I love people who inspire me to hope and dream.  Maya Angelou, one of the great dream prophets of our age, crossed over last week.  People's hearts are singing her praises all over social media.  I say she was a dream prophet because with her poetry, art and oratory, she called on all of us to dream from every cell of our existence and to sing our hearts out to the tune of that dream.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is another dream prophet I honor.  When I was in my late 20s and fresh out of seminary, (here's that story) I taught at an all girl's high school run by the then wonderfully progressive Sisters of St. Joseph.  I had the grand honor of helping to produce, with a caucus of African-American students, a kick-ass assembly program in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday.

The opening of our assembly was a spectacular dance performance to Stevie Wonder's tribute to MLK, Happy Birthday.  The dancers were among Garth Fagan's best students in his Rochester based dance school, (yes, the Garth Fagan of Lion King fame, and you can imagine how fortunate I feel that I got to learn from him and his A-list dancers, just for a few years, while I was teaching high school in Rochester).

My decision to open the school assembly with this dance was inspired by a dream.  In my dream I saw dancers silhouetted on a dark stage with the most amazing light show of streaming colors flowing out of their every move.  The waking dream performance had that magical, luminous energy.

Dreams inspire creative action in waking life.  Shaping your own dream according to your heart and soul's desire keeps life extremely interesting.  As Maya Angelou said with her succinct power:

" A person is the product of their dreams.  So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream."

from "Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now."