Recently a friend sent me an article from the New York Times entitled, When Do You Know Your Work Is Done Here On Earth? The title is provocative because it reminds me of a recurring dream I’ve been having and had just had, once again, the night before. In this dream I am either at school or at a job and I have not done the work required. If I am at school the whole year has gone by and I have not done any of the assignments. If I am at a job I am showing up but not actually doing my work . I wrote back to my friend to tell her how the article overlayed with this dream I keep having and she wished me well in finding the meaning. I turned this wish into a prayer. As the holiday unwound and I had some free days I actively asked to be shown the meaning of this dream. In addition, I have spent many hours reading a new Pathwork book just published by Liam Quirk. The Book, Being and Becoming, Five Essential Pathwork Lessons, (Pathwork Press) is the book that has been so needed to distill the Pathwork into meaningful, relatable liturgy. I say liturgy because I am carrying the book around with me everywhere like a bible. Liam was a student of mine and as I read the book I vacillate between feeling the pride of a parent and the awe of his mastery.
Liam weaves so artfully the essential message of the Pathwork Guide that we are already perfect as we are AND we must attend to our distortions and negativities to get back to that state of perfection. Early on in Lesson One he asks us two questions: what is the truth and what can I learn? I ask these questions again of my dreams and I have another dream on New Years Eve. In this dream I am with friends who in real life have recently disappointed me. We are eating dinner and I am feeling unseen and uncared for and a lack of attunement. I wake up at 5:45. I lay in bed and recount all the actual disappointment that the dream left me feeling. My mind spins from one disappointing relationship to another. I cuddle with my husband who is sound asleep and rather than feel the pleasure of our comfy warm bed and his embrace I am off in a negative, even rageful rant that I seem to have no control over. Finally I get up just before 7:00, get dressed and go out to the beach to watch the sun rise. It is a completely foggy day with no sun but somehow this is a great comfort to me. I walk in the fog realizing it is so dense I may not find my way home. The low moan of the fog horn and this dense mist matches my internal state. And it is a relief to lose myself in the ocean, in nature, in something bigger than myself.
I return home for some coffee and my book and I read “At the end of the day building a strong healthy ego is about overcoming negativity and choosing the real self.” Then Liam quotes the guide in Lecture #176, ” You may have known this theoretically for a long, long time, and paid lip service to it. But there is a world of difference between an intellectual assent and the clear-cut realizations that you indeed create negatively, that the very unhappiness you deplore and render others responsible for is caused by negative attitudes you actually enjoy and want to maintain.”
Over the next few days I am able to track the disappointment that spills into rage back to my mother and how angry I am that she disappointed me. All the same feelings of not being seen, uncared etc… were present as she got sick and died. This rage is not to be ignored, but it needs attending to in its original state and not projected on to all my friendships. Of course under the rage is deep grief and loneliness.
And another quote jumps off the page as I move to Lesson Two, ” You do not immediately distinguish between two kinds of joy. The first comes when you see with detachment what exists in the other, and this sets you free. The second appears when you pleasurable indulge in the other’s wrongness and this blinds you.”
In the background like a vague hum of a motor I have been continuously indulging the pleasure in what I perceive to be others’ shortcomings —mirroring my mother’s — with intense disappointment and even rage. This realization brings me some humility, but mostly tremendous relief and clarity. Now that I have experienced it so directly I can begin to unravel this pattern and use my capacities and energies in a more positive, creative direction. To feel the love and reality around me — being held in my husbands arms and the real love of my friends and family surrounding me now. Always.
In a flash of insight I get the meaning of my recurring dream. This is the work that has not been done. This is the curriculum that I did not do all year. This is my gift for the New Year. I hope you find one of your own and I highly recommend Liam’s book!