Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There is a folktale that goes like this: two friends set off to “find their fortunes”. One friend has a fantastical dream, and in the morning, even though his friend advises against it, the one young man sets off to follow it. He continues to pursue the vision that came to him in his sleep, and in the end he finds happiness and fortune. After the two friends have parted, the second man has a dream as well, but thinking it improbable, he never pursues it, and in time finds himself in poverty, and alone. Chance brings the two men back together, and when the poorer of the two sees his successful friend he asks how he came by his good fortune.
“Well,” his former companion replies, “Do you remember how I had that dream, long ago? I just followed it. No matter what happened, I kept moving towards it, and it led me to a happier life than I ever imagined!”
“That’s interesting,” said the poor man. “After you left, I too, had a dream.”
“And”, said his friend. “What happened? Where did the dream lead you?”
“Nowhere! I mean, you don’t expect me to follow my dreams, do you?”
Every time I think about that story, I wince, because I see far too many people, who, like that second man, ignore the callings of their hearts, muffle their dreams, and land up, as Thoreau wrote, living lives of “sad desperation”. This month, I have had at least two people ask me about how it is that I have seemed to - to coin that old Joseph Campbell chestnut, “followed my bliss”. While I wish I had answers for these folks, I don’t. All I know is that I didn’t seem to have a choice. Despite what my parents, society, and good plain common sense practically ached at times, for me to do, I just seem incapable of doing anything but what the voices in my heart whisper to me.
There have been times, frankly, when I wished I didn’t feel the need to be – well, ME!! I can’t tell you how much I sometimes want to say to that excited little monkey in my head that yelps life directions at me “NO!!!!” But, I just can’t seem to do it. Because as illogical as those ideas are, they always feel so darn RIGHT, and like a moth to the flame I find myself plunging in – AND LANDING RIGHT WHERE I SHOULD BE. And, here’s the thing, the more I’ve ended up in a place that’s right for me, the more I know my little monkey is worth listening to – even if no one in the entire universe would agree.
In the epic story, “The Ramayana”, Rama is said to be the best of men, because no matter what, he always adheres to the principal known as dharma – the belief that we are all born with our own individual talents, and traits, and it is our duty to express those qualities, no matter what. It’s our obligation to basically be ourselves, and life our lives, and not a version of anybody else’s. When I read Rama’s adventures last month, all I could say was, “Right on!!”
So, I guess what I’m saying is, if there’s anybody out there, saying, “SSH!” to their dreams – STOP IT, NOW!!! Life is too short, and too full of different types of lives, and possibilities, for anyone to discount their imaginings, no matter how crazy they may be. I mean come on – I’m a professional storyteller/clown/yoga teacher – how much odder does it get??!! 
So, to close, here’s a little Jewish fable, about the great leader of his people Abraham. “When I get to heaven, and God asks me – why I was not Moses, I know what I will tell him,” Abraham told a group once. “ I will tell him, it is because, I am not Moses. But, if he asks me why was I not Abraham, what can I say?”

No comments: