I realized this morning that I needed to heed this call to action -- one also issued by Blogos, who has more than once, in face-to-face conversation, declared himself to me as an "essayist" -- when I watched an inspirational video, and then nearly linked it on Facebook.
But I didn't.
I didn't, because I think linking a performance of Edith S. Sampson's 1965 commencement speech to North Central College would be an insulting contradiction to its content: an appeal to young graduates to lead the examined life, even if it means sacrificing the comfort of conformity or privilege.
And what has this to do with dreamwork? Real dedication to dreamwork is a commitment to go wherever the dreams lead you. It is a commitment to allow the knowledge and impulses that come through dreams to challenge every assumption we have ever made or accepted from our surroundings or culture. Dreamwork is anything but comfortable.
In our last dream circle session, I shared a dream in which my dream ego (the "I" that experiences the dream in the dream state), concluded that my life progress was being hindered by all the books that I own. Remember the last time you moved? Remember packing and unpacking all those boxes full of books and thinking "Why do I drag all of these around with me?"
My assumption -- arising from being the son of a professor and holding a self-image of being an "intellectual" -- is that books are sacred objects. I have never thrown out a book. I have sold them. I have given them away. But I have never just treated them like the worthless dross some of them actually are.
As you might know, if you've been following this blog, one of the core practices of dreamwork is to commit to "honoring" a dream once you have worked it, either alone or with a group. Honoring a dream means performing some act in the physical world to "ground" the impulse of the dream; to manifest it in waking life. Once we had worked this dream, I committed myself to honoring it by getting rid of some books.
Yesterday, I browsed through shelves in our flat, pulling out volumes that have not been read by anyone in our family for many years, and very likely never will be again: yellowing Mickey Spillane paperbacks, copies of books published in Hungary in which I have English-language editing credits, old sci-fi short story anthologies...
In all I found about 100 books that were just taking up space. I toted the huge box down to our paper recycling bin on the ground floor and -- with a flutter of guilt -- dumped them in.
At the same time, it was liberating.
It's not that I don't still love books. God knows we still have shelves and shelves of them in our flat. But I came to understand something as I reflected on what I'd done. Discarding those books was not a declaration that I don't value books anymore. It meant that I place even greater value on the ones I choose to keep, and to give pride of place in my study and living room.
And I feel I have a clearer understanding of the difference between who I am, and the books that I own.
I will continue blogging, and I will continue challenging my assumptions. And all outworn suppositions will go to the recycling bin.