Carving a pathway to the Creative Self or rather the Creative Self is carving a pathway towards me. It has been said of vocation that ‘one does not ask; one is asked. And a considerable part of the meaning of one’s life comes from saying yes when asked.’ And so my dreams have asked me very clearly to write, but what? as yet there are no clues only fragmentary suggestions of the creative act itself so i will begin by mapping the dream terrain a little and see if this feeds the soul’s directive. it began with the creative man appearing once I had escaped the wealthy mansion where as an intruder i did not belong. The wealthy mansion for me is the place where i have found myself in Sydney – a world of private schools and lower north shore values. When i escaped i was barefoot and free – the me that had her place in Byron Bay and the creative man found me there. He is with his son and he asks me to write. He doesn’t say what. He just wants me to write something cos he knows i can. His son knows this too. Then i am in my family home and i see what looks like a snake tail in the cupboard when i am folding towels. Bits of shells are spitting out at me from the cupboard and the tail is moving. I try to shut the door but it won’t shut. i go and ask my father to get the snake. He returns and and says it was a bird that had been hatching in the cupboard. A big beautiful blue bird comes strutting out and walks confidently over my fathers shoulder. he is part of the family and had been hatching in our cupboard for a very long time. The bird is my creativity hatched and confidently striding out into the light. Then i had a breakdown at work in my dreams. Some women were looking after me and ran some inkblot tests. The diagnosis was that i had no vitamin D left and i cried out a lost connection to nature. The psyche tests reveal a lack of creativity / sunlight from too much work. The the father dreams continue. He has a role to play in my creative life – perhaps he even represents the creative principle. He ushers the bird in and he then asks me what drink i want in the bar. But i am still distracted in trying to move from one state to another – money, fashion magazines – not taking the path seriously. Then relationship dreams start to emerge and talk of a baby. The vagabond man is offering a baby to me and i am urged to accept. there is also a thread about study that begins to emerge here as i tell a tell a teenage girl to start saving for Scotland in a years time to study. The creative father emerges from my mothers house and we go on a trip together we are flying and then we camp and later i fly alone. i tell my brother that i have got my degree and that i won an award for poetry. The the water appears in a dream and i am on the precipice of diving in. there is a part of me that wants to escape the real world and just commune in the unconscious. I had a dream of a woman who was worried for me as i anted to just commune with nature. but i convinced her that i has an academic transcript and that i would study like a uni student but i am realising that it is the unrealistic part of me that wants to do this and i have to stand more upright than that. the barrier was matresses so i wonder if i am sleeping too much and avoiding the real world. And then a big dream arrives. Pegasus comes and and appears through the clouds and i am watching him looking directly up. A man is riding him. I want to see this for myself. He represents the union of opposites. Earthly power and heavenly inspiration. And finally my father is looking after my child and i want her back. He wears a suit and works in an office. But he can look after her at work and i can’t. My child / creativity and dreams are in his care. But the i dream i am swimming in the meditteranean and am approached by William Blake who touches me lovingly and creates a poem for me. last night I meet Jahlia who is writing a book called the birth of venus and i tell her to seek out sarah nicholson to help with research.
“They were waiting for this day’s adventure, and it did indeed occur. The Holy Grail itself showed itself to the assembled knights – not in its full glory but covered with a great, radiant cloth. Then it withdrew. All were left ravished, sitting there in awe. Finally Gawain, Arthur’s nephew, stood up and said, ‘I propose a vow to this company, that we should all go in quest of that Grail to behold it unveiled.’ They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth in a group. Each entered the Forest Adventurous at that point which he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no way or path.
You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there’s a way or path, it is someone else’s path; each human being is a unique phenomenon.
The idea is to find your own pathway to bliss.” – Joseph Campbell
So I have just embarked on an 8 week course to explore more deeply the notion of vocation from a depth psychological point of view. There have been so many beautiful things written about this idea of vocation as a call from the soul that have touched my heart and made me recognise a pattern and call to this adventure in my own life and yet it is tinged with a kind of inner conflict and tension that I am striving to resolve.
Etymologically speaking the term vocation derives from the latin term vocatio meaning “to be addressed by a voice,”much like Jeanne d’Arc was so called to lead the French Army. I have heard this voice many times in my dreams and he always asks me to write. It is a masculine voice and sometimes an in the flesh man with a request for me to write something. I love to write especially when inspired, so there seems to be no problem there except that I also happen to have a very demanding and all encompassing ‘career’ path running parallel to this creative pursuit which often devours the quieter, more reflective inner voice and leaves me dried out and devastated.
For me the distinction between career and vocation is like the difference between the path that that beckons towards you (and for me is the path of least resistance) and the one that calls quietly from within and feels much harder to actualise in the ‘world’. It is the relationship between soul and ego that can at times feel like a battle ground. The ego path of ‘career’ asks for continual expansion and advancement and yet the soul path of vocation really couldn’t care less about an upward trajectory and just wants enough space and time to breathe.
Poet, David Whyte speaks eloquently about the ways in which vocation arrives in an unspeakable tone that the ego’s desire for ambition cannot comprehend making it so hard to speak about to others,
“What is worthy of a life’s dedication does not want to be known by us in ways that diminish its actual sense of presence. Everything true to itself has its own secret language and an internal intentionality with a secret surprising flow, even to the person who supposedly puts it all in motion. Ambition ultimately withers all secrets in its glare before those secrets have had time to come to life from within and then thwarts the generosity and maturity that ripens the discourse of a lifetime’s dedication to a work.”
I recently had a series of recurring dreams that found me an intruder of a wealthy mansion garden trying to escape. In a way the wealthy mansion for me represents the pursuit of ‘ambition’ that Whyte speaks of. When I finally did manage to escape I found myself barefoot and free and confronted by a creative man and his son who asked me to write. This was accompanied by a dream of a beautiful blue bird that had been hatching for years in my cupboard confidently striding forth. This bird was the creative voice that had been waiting for years to come ‘out of the closet.’ So here I am again embarking on a new writing project and a kind of descent to an unknown destination.
If there’s one thing I have been lucky enough to encounter recently its been a much needed push back to listening to the voice of my dreams. The ‘career’ had been so hungry and demanding it had cloaked my most precious resource and access to the inner path and if it wasn’t for a wonderful encounter with a kindred soul who reminded me that the dreams were the way back, the self may have been swallowed for good. As Carl Jung said,
“Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. I must carry them in my heart and go back and forth over them in my mind. Dreams pave the way for life, and they determine you without you understanding their language. The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth. You can attain this knowledge if only by living your life to the full. You cannot flee from yourself. It demands fulfilment.”