I have a recurring dream: I am crouching on the cliff edge of a very high mountain, paralyzed by the proximity of the deep abyss that I cannot see but feel, scared out of my depth of losing my grip and falling. Curiously, one night I somehow knew in my dream that I was dreaming and even though I could not wake myself from it I could think about it while I was in it. So I thought to myself: Hang on, if I’m dreaming then nothing can really happen to the real-life me, right? So what if I just let go and see what happens? And so I did….
… and no, I didn’t just take off and fly (gotcha). But it turns out I wasn’t crashing down in free fall either. It was more like a very soft descent. Like I was sitting on a cloud and slowly let down at a very agreeable speed. And when I landed it wasn’t in scary no-man’s-land but in a lightfilled room with lots of people I didn’t know but who looked kind and friendly.
Shortly afterwards the dream ended and I woke, still flabbergasted by how this deeply fearful moment had transformed itself into a mesmerizing experience of curiosity and pleasant surprise.
I told a friend about it. A few days later she gave me a postcard she had coincidentally come across just after I had told her my dream. It read:
Well, as I said, I didn’t actually fly. But maybe this was just my way of testing things out. With safety measures in place. Just in case.
This is really what this is about, isn’t it? Our safety measures. Most of the time they won’t even let us contemplate letting go of the most dire circumstances. We cling onto what we know, even though it might be dreadful and unpleasant, but at least we know what we know. No bad surprises.
But also no good ones.
I kept thinking about that dream and revising it in my waking life. And comparing it to the other dream versions I have had. Once, the cliff edge was covered in snow. It was cold and freezing. I was not even sure if there actually was rock beneath my feet or just the frozen extension of its snow-covered edge. Needless to say I was terrified of the snow bit breaking off. And me falling. You get the gist.
In this latter dream a person was standing higher up, observing my predicament but could not or would not help me because it was too dangerous to even come closer. I was left to my own devices and had no choice but to very slowly and cautiously inch my way back up into safety on my own.
Unfortunately, in this dream it didn’t occur to me to just let go. But the more I contemplate it the more I feel this might just be what I should really do. Just let go. Of old safety measures. Of what I hold onto because it’s what I know. Of all that is not doing me any good anymore. Of all that prevents me from moving somewhere different.
I’m not good at this. At letting go. And moving on. Especially not when the only way forward seems to be one into an abyss. Then again, what if we’re just dreaming even while we are awake? Every single day of our life? What if we can always decide to just let go – and nothing bad can really happen? But a positive surprise.
Maybe it’s just my despair speaking here. But maybe, just maybe, there is reason to this inextinguishable hope I carry within me that things will get better eventually, even if I cannot quite see how, yet. That we are protected on our life’s journey. That we only find ourselves in situations that are meant to push us further.
Into finding our superpowers.
The ones we would never discover if we weren’t challenged by those situations in the first place. Because if we weren’t challenged we might just be too comfortable where we are, with no reason to venture out and look for them.
Yesterday I heard a song. I’ve heard it before, I think. But yesterday it somehow suddenly registered with me on a different level. The voice and melody got to me first. And then the lyrics hit me:
Listening to the lyrics over and over again I realized this wasn’t about waiting for supergirl to rescue us. It was about finding the supergirl within us. The one that is sad and miserable and sometimes really does feel like nothing but crying – but is also fiercely committed to finding her own happiness again. And doing something courageous for it.
Even jumping off a cliff, trusting that wings will grow.
Not saying that I’m there yet. I think I might keep practicing this in my dream for just a bit longer. But maybe, just maybe, one day I will feel ready to do it in real life, too.
Spread my wings.