Fueling the Flames

Three nights ago, I had a dream.

In this dream, I was in a war zone. This war zone was contained within a massive warehouse, which extended out as far as I could see.

After a time, I came upon a wooden staircase, and ascended up into an attic. It seemed to be a workshop where many scribes were writing in bound books of various shapes and sizes.

There, I found a nun, a saint whose name I recognized (but can no longer remember now). She spoke to me, and asked me of my many fears. Of what I thought about my own power. And of the fears she knew I had surrounding this power.

Before we parted, she handed me a notebook of my own, and pointed toward a black wrought-iron spiral starecase at the back of the attic workshop. She gave me one question I was to reflect and write on: “What purpose does your rage serve?”

I walked past the many scribes and ascended to the next level, and then the next. As I walked from room to room, in an unending spiral moving towards the sky, I encountered scenes from my past, and some from a possible future.

In each room, I would find a different pen, each a different shape with a different kind of ink, and here I would set down my notes. Here was my rage. Here was my purpose. Here was my power.

I’ve been reflecting on this dream during these past three days, days which have been filled with anxiety, turmoil and unrest.

I’m learning not to fear my own power. I’m learning how deeply I had internalized the message that my power is not welcome. That my passion is not allowed. That my presence is one which should be diminished.

I see these messages for what they are, tools of control, methods of oppression that have kept me small, that have kept me serving the needs of the patriarchal capitalist (+ colonist + white supremacist + beyond) society in which I was born.

And I see the purpose of my rage.

After a lifetime of being told that anger, not to mention rage, was “not allowed” for a person in my position, I am welcoming it. I am feeling it. And I am listening to it.

I am asking my anger, “What are you here to tell me?”

I ask my rage, “What do I need to do to honor you?”

I am listening. I am open to answers. Now I know that my darkness is my fuel. This is what will light my way forward. And I am ready to carry the torch into a new future.

a small confession

My eyes are often open, but it is rare that they see.

This morning, I saw fear. I thought I didn’t know fear, that I somehow lived bravely. The outcomes in my experience weren’t consistent with that analysis, but I brushed it off. I’m not afraid, it was just that simple.

But maybe I couldn’t see my fear because I was swimming in it. I’ve been floating through life, suspended in a scared world, held up and held back by what I thought I didn’t want.

I have rejected even the acknowledgement of my own desires because I was afraid they could never be fulfilled. I haven’t tried, or even admitted I wanted to.

But I want to live with integrity now. I want to be honest about and with myself.

So I’ll share a dream of mine with you, one that I’ve held for decades now, since I was a child.

As a young girl, my world was filled with books. Like Borges, my heaven was a library (and it still is). When people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew immediately: I wanted to be a writer.

I’ve pretended for years now that I don’t want that! Maybe it was right for others, but definitely not for me. Come on, didn’t I pretend I was an “epistemological nihilist”? What right I did I have to buy someone’s attention with counterfeit bills of “knowledge”?

Maybe there’s something to those ideas, I really don’t know. But I recognize today that the real reason was not disinterest, but fear.

And I’m still afraid, but I’m going to turn around and walk toward it.

Maybe I still don’t believe I have any Truth worth telling. But I would like to offer you a map, instead, a phenomenology of the territory insideĀ I believe is my soul.

As I dream, images arise: a guiding star, a loving mirror, a bell that awakens. Objects of beauty and agents of change, I will keep you in mind with this first step forward.