I had dreamed often of ethnic divisions
increasing in Vanikke, and so I wrote the first scene to convey this and fit it
in with the Lyanfa scenes.
I dreamed of the polluted desks. I figured that cleaning them up would be a
fine way to bring the Headmaster up to speed, and so made up that part.
Rosebud was also, in this waking world,
the name of a crazy young woman, an activist and an anarchist who broke into a
university chancellor's home in Berkeley, allegedly with murderous intent, whom
the police subsequently shot and killed.
I have strong anarchist sympathies, but in the context of Christian
Anarchy—the intent to cause law to atrophy by inspiring conscience. The version I follow doesn't involve murder.
But what is law, ultimately, if not the
enforcement of a set of values onto someone who doesn't want to follow
them? A community can decide, together,
to enforce values necessary for their survival onto any who dwell among them
who might be inclined to go against the common good, and that has a certain
validity. But this woman in Berkeley
tried, unilaterally, to force her values onto someone else in the crudest way
possible, becoming the precise opposite of what she espoused. And that is what happens when you refuse to
admit that you have a Shadow side, that for everything you develop in yourself
you have an equal and opposite potential: everything that you suppress and deny
builds up within, out of your line of sight and out of your control, till it
can rise up and overpower you.
In my dreams of her, Rosebud becomes
someone who lost her innocence violently through grief, changing rapidly from
virgin to bride to widow and ultimately to self-destructive homicidal
nymphomaniac, and she also goes from political rebel to a defender of
oppression. Her dishevelment marks her
as deteriorating in her changes, not advancing—this is no healthy celebration
of sexuality, nor a validation of a political transition—she has broken. Deirdre makes this concrete.
Perhaps she represents hard, brittle
values, that cannot bend and so must break under pressure. She herself is not Shadow, but rather the
wreckage left after a Shadow backlash.
And a warning that I could develop a sizeable backlash of my own if I
didn't adopt a little flexibility into my life.
Dreams challenged me to question the
absoluteness of everything that I had previously held as sacrosanct. I retained, in the long-run, the overall
structure of my beliefs and mores, but allowed for some disagreement with doctrine
as seemed reasonable.
I feel better for it. God is not so flimsy that He can't stand up
to examination, nor does He lack eloquence to respond convincingly when questioned. But some rumors about His will don't fare so
I notice, in reexamining this,
Rosebud's obsession with Bijal's beard.
It represents his maturity, scarred by a traumatic event that led to him
questioning himself; it doesn't grow back in all places. My maturity, also, has grown unevenly, stunted
in places by traumas that cause me, at times, to doubt myself.
Yet we need some degree of
self-doubt. A study of incompetence in
many fields show that the one unifying factor was unquestioning self-confidence,
which leaves the incompetent unaware of mistakes in time to rectifying them. Because the overconfident shove their doubts
into Shadow, they waste energy on denying imperfection rather than fixing
it. These are the same rigid people who
succumb to the most violent eruptions of Shadow backlash.
Only this past year have I learned
enough about narcissism to realize that my family was riddled with it. I realize now that much that traumatized me
also saved me. Others in the family got
a classic narcissistic upbringing, being told that they were born special and
superior, but also ripped to shreds for any sign of imperfection. But it's hard to inflate the family
scapegoat. I got labeled "damaged
goods", that could have been special except...well, something went wrong,
there. I got ripped into more than the
others, but escaped the graver and more insidious danger of having excuses made
for me to keep up their illusions.
This helped me learn something
essential. The dominant society has
confused resources with results. Neither
the resources that one acquires at birth (intelligence, beauty, talent, a
healthy constitution, psi, imagination) nor the ones that one earns (knowledge,
skill, wealth, strength, wisdom, creativity, fame, position) are virtues of
themselves, but only tools which the virtuous might use in service to God, Humanity,
and Earth, or which the villainous equally might use towards selfish or wicked
goals. They don't make anyone special by
themselves. Some have done much with
little, while others have squandered their advantages or used them wrongfully. The only superiority that matters is in acts
of love, and that quality waxes and wanes from moment to moment, being nobody's
I still suffered from perfectionism,
though, despising my every flaw and wanting to die all the time because my
failures seemed unbearable. In my youth
I felt needy and desperate for constant approval; it poured into me like water
into a cracked vessel, so that I always thirsted for more, never entirely
convinced of my right to live.
A song saved me, a new tune and
translation of an older hymn, resurrected by the Jesus Freak movement: The
Prayer of St. Francis. In it the
"Oh master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my
I hated that song when first I heard it! I wanted to be consoled, understood, and
loved more than anything in the world.
But I also knew that I needed the gift that this prayer offered. I submitted to it, singing it, meaning it—and
it brought me immeasurable happiness!
Because real love doesn't care about
"What does he think of me?" nearly as much as "What is he feeling? What does he need?" And when you give that kind of love, the real
thing, you often get it back. And even
when you don't, even when nobody knows what you do for another, you can
experience this flood of pure joy from realizing, yourself, that you had a hand
in making the world a little bit better.
And for the Christian you have, in addition, the tremendous fulfillment
of St. Veronica wiping the face of Christ, for every good deed is done also to
Today I live a much happier life than
any narcissist in my family has ever known.
I have discovered what real love is like, without conditions or
manipulations. I have learned to
appreciate achievements on any scale, and learned to not let failings crush me,
but to thank them for their lessons and to grow from them. I have learned the peace of being good
I dreamed of being Deirdre looking for
Bijal. And I'm pretty sure I dreamed of
being Bijal, frightened and immobile, in the chair. I think I made up the rest. Or maybe not.
I think I did dream of breaking Rosebud's wrists, and shattering her
cracked vessel—an admission that her way is broken. In any case, I needed to find my maturity,
flawed though it is, and rescue it from the family madness. Indeed, Bijal is ultimately made stronger by
the trauma that showed him that he can fail, he can misjudge, making him consider
more carefully in the future. (And he is
one of the few Egalitarians that I've dreamed who actually has a future.)
But regardless of what I did or didn't
dream, I do know that Lyanfa is an evil place.
I get a sense of desecrated, once-sacred ground, stained with an ancient
massacre of the peaceable and trusting, and never redressed. And don't we desecrate whatever we hold most
sacred, when we take it to its extreme, which rapidly becomes its opposite?