Why do we get the parents we get? Why do we get distant, abusive, cold, overbearing, intrusive, smothering or rejecting parents? Why do we cling to them, asking and needing something when clearly they have nothing to offer? What is our parentage trying to tell us about our own journey? I cannot help but ask such questions, for I am a questioner of life, of the reason for being, of the purpose of my life, and so I ask questions and seek answers that make sense in the context of my life, who I’ve been and who I might become.
On Friday night, the night of the full moon, a blue moon, sleeping under its glowing light, I dreamed. In my dream, I’m sitting on our deck in my usual seat. To my left, in Chuck’s usual seat, sits a young attractive woman with long dark hair. She has Chuck’s spirit and energy, yet it’s not him. Opposite me sits an older woman with long white hair, slightly plump, whom I interpret as an Earth Mother type. We seem to be talking, our feet up on a small table, three women of different ages and different temperaments. Suddenly, a golden hawk flies down to the deck. It has a long feathered tail and I see that it’s looking for a place to land. I notice that it’s tail will be crushed if it lands on the floor of the deck and I don’t think this is a good idea, and so I stretch out my bare right arm to receive it. I’m aware of the sharpness of its claws and steel my arm to accept their bite, but it lands upon my arm so lightly and gently that I feel nothing more than a gentle impression. I look at this beautiful golden hawk and wonder if it has a message for me, but I see that it’s not looking at me at all, but at the young woman with the dark hair sitting in Chuck’s seat. The older woman answers my question by nodding at the younger woman, saying out loud: “Yes, it’s come for you.” My ego accepts this truth, captivated by the fact that this hawk has come at all. As I watch, the hawk pours a steady stream of golden light, from its heart, directly into the heart of the young woman. Their eyes lock and the stream of golden energy pulses strongly between them without let up, without dimming or fluctuating. The older woman and I look upon this energetic encounter in total acceptance, in unattached awe.
Upon awakening, I’m aware that this dream is stunningly significant, though it takes me several days; several more dream experiences to work it out, at least for now. I begin to see the mandala structure in the dream set up, the four figures describing the geometrics of the mandala and the small table at our feet marking the center. My present ego self sits in my usual seat in my dream, my maternal self sits opposite me in the form of the Earth Mother. My young spirit self sits in Chuck’s seat, and the golden hawk takes up its place opposite this spirit self as I stretch out my arm and receive it into the mandala. It belongs there; I know this as soon as it descends, and so the mandala, the energy of the inner self is complete upon its arrival. There is the sense of a circle around all of this energy in my dream and indeed there is an umbrella on the deck over this seating arrangement, and so I accept it as the outer ring of my mandala. The energy inside my dream mandala is strong, contained, protected. My dreaming self presents me with the truth of my own deep inner work, my recapitulation and my continued inner work, and so I accept that I am in a strong place now.
I’m not surprised, by the way, that I envision my spirit self as a much younger me, for in all that I know and have read about, the spirit self does appear in this fashion. In my own experience of meeting Jeanne in her energy body, she too was young and vibrant, perhaps about 30 years old, the same age as I appear to be in this dream. Accounts by many others confirm this, that our evolved spirit selves are young, attractive, and vibrant. This point alone may offer enough incentive to take the inner journey, for meeting that spirit self is quite a rewarding endeavor.
But what does it all mean? The maternal self gives the answer, though my ego self pipes up wondering if it’s come for the self that constantly seeks specialness, but as soon as the Earth Mother tells the young spirit self that it’s come for her, I accept her knowing, for she is right. The mother archetype does her job, and by her unattached acceptance of this fact of her own existence as a giver of life and energy, I too can accept my ego’s role in balance with that truth. It’s time for these two extraverted selves to step back now. All focus and all energy must go to the evolution of the spirit self. It’s time, Jan, this dream tells me, to put all of your attention into your spirit’s continuing journey. As soon as I reach this interpretation of the dream, after I have sifted through many other meanings, arbitrary and significant alike, I know it’s the right one.
How can I take this deeper inner journey when I have so many outer commitments? Is my dream asking me to forego motherhood, to forego my ego, and concentrate only on my spirit’s journey? Is the golden hawk asking me to abandon all outer life for some amorphous and uncertain inner life? In essence, yes, it’s asking me to do all of these things. It’s asking me to continue a deepening practice, to stay on the inner path. It’s asking me to examine the roles I have played in the world, since birth, and to question where I am with them now.
Am I ready to take this life’s journey to the next level? Am I done with certain aspects of self, of neediness and desire for something from others? Am I done with projecting my spirit onto others, onto Chuck for instance, as I first see this spirit self sitting in his chair? Can I take ownership more fully now, accepting this spirit self as fully my own? Can I take the ever-deepening inner journey without attachment to the myriad old selves who have thus far accompanied me on my journey? Can I turn to my spirit as the maternal self does and totally give the golden hawk’s gift to this inner self?
Peter Matthiessen, in his book The Snow Leopard, asks himself similar questions when he’s asked why he’s taking a dangerous trek across the Himalayas. He wonders at his reasons for leaving behind his young motherless children, for risking his life at every step on the slippery ice-covered paths, under threat of avalanche, blizzards, starvation even. Why would he do such a thing? He can find no reasonable answer to give his questioner, for to say that he’s doing it to deepen his inner journey does not sound reasonable enough. How could anyone find such an answer acceptable? And so he simply replies that he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know why he’s taking a journey of such risk, a journey that may leave him stranded or dead, his children orphans, but he cannot refuse it either.
Such is the strength of the inner spirit in all of us. Once awakened it carries an energy that will not be pushed aside by a request for reasonableness. Reason does not come into the equation. And so, I come to my topic of parentage and a return to the questions I pose at the beginning of this blog, for these questions are key to taking an inner journey.
Our parentage, who our parents were and what they did or did not do, to or for us, are key to taking the inner journey. In the beginning, the inward path leads us back to confronting these parents. In every part of our being we must decide where they have taken up residence. We must ask them to leave, as we gradually clear a path to our true selves. We must face the neglect and the love alike that came from them, the poor child self left to fend for itself, alone in the world, or the child self smothered by too much well-intentioned goodness. We must face the fact that perhaps we got the parents we needed to catapult us into the life we have and that the circumstances of our birth are the secret to our inner work.
As a parent, I must face that my own children got me as a parent. They got all that I had to offer and all I could not offer, all that I carried and all I could not carry, and they too must question what it means to have gotten such a person for their mother. If parenting was not part of this life, it does not matter, for the questions are the same for our inner child as for our children in the outer world. Our inner child must ask similar questions, why we got this body, this ego, this journey? In order to leave the inner parents behind and become our true selves we must all ask ourselves: What does it mean for me that I am in this life? For me.
In staying attached to our parentage, in blaming and wanting more and more from them, we end up digging ourselves into a pit of sorrow and regret, perhaps far deeper than the pit our parentage landed us in to begin with. Perhaps in our groveling we hear words of wisdom and are able to pull our heads up and look around at life without parentage as the most rewarding of gifts. Or perhaps the golden hawk visits us many times but we are so smothered in our own excrement that we do not see or hear its missives. It takes a long time to extricate ourselves from our pasts, from our parentage, from having to fulfill the desires of others and the expectations of a reasonable world.
At the same time, in fully living the life we have landed in we learn how to hone our spirit, how to contain it, how to express our creative self in one form or another so that it does not overwhelm us or take us so far afield that we are not able to retrieve it in one lifetime. If the creative spirit is allowed free reign, it can destroy us, as surely as an avalanche in the Himalayas. But, in trekking through life with awareness of our surroundings, with inner questioning and inner focus balanced by outward expression, we offer ourselves the steadiness to forge across even the most treacherous of mountain peaks.
I am a creative being, as we all are, and though I once used my creativity outwardly, in artistic expression, for I could not hold it within, now I use it inwardly. And in so doing I find that my outward expression, my creative output once so admired and abundant, has no need to repeat itself in the world. My creative energy now finds abundant outlet within.
And so, the inner journey continues to offer the greatest rewards, for I have found nothing better in this life for answering all the questions I might ask of myself and others. I have learned that in looking inward for my answers rather than outward, peace and contentment eventually come, the golden hawk finally arrives. In learning to let go of expectations of others—parents, partners, children, even our pets—in taking back our projections and owning them for ourselves, in honing our creativity for inner work, we nurture our inner child to enjoyment of maturity and a fulfilled life.
Most humble thanks for being there and taking the trek.