Dreamed 2000/2/15 by Chris Wayan
I'm in Hayes Valley, San Francisco, a poor district now turning trendy. Ratty Victorian houses with boutiques in the basements.
I'm here for a meeting of a leaderless self-help group, a spinoff from a twelve-step program for compulsive eaters, anorexics and bulemics. Today, I just sit back and watch, till I see something strange. Two new members of the group appear from nowhere. At first they're just blurs of light, pure spirit, but they start talking and gradually construct themselves from their assumptions. I don't mean psychologically--with every self-defining phrase they sharpen into focus as humans, females, teens, individuals. The power of the Word! They carve themselves from light, and their sculpting tools are words.
Words like stupid, fat, ugly... zits.
After the group, go for a walk with one. She's obese, with tense posture, awkward movements... she MAKES herself ugly. Not by eating--by telling herself. I SAW her soul! A clear column of light.
We talk as we stomp through the chic district, hunting for the roots of her strange assumptions. I keep after her, extracting beliefs from her like rotten teeth, till we stumble on the key lesson she learned, the one that must change first: "It's all genetic, so nothing can be done."
That refrain absolved her of guilt, which was probably wise during her miserable childhood, for she might have killed herself if she'd found a way to blame it on her own mind... but now it blocks progress too! As long as she believes in genetic predestination, rather than the free-willed soul I saw in the group, why should she TRY to change?
As we talk, she scuttles across the street right in front of a moving car. And... she saw. But she values her life so little, it's worth risking it to save a couple of seconds... She keeps no safety margins at all, because she's worth so little! I say so--feel obliged to challenge THAT assumption--it endangers her.
As much as you can endanger a bar of light.
We drop by my therapist's office. I won a free session or two as a prize for my work in the group, and I've decided to donate the time with my therapist to this girl and her friend, so they can work seriously on changing this.
Feels right to me--they'll get more out of it right now than any work I could do on me...
I still feel the same. Sure, I could apply this dream to me. But with millions of other souls, columns of light, going around saying "You stupid, ugly..." to themselves, I think I'll take it at face value. I don't need therapy much any more: I've learned the hard way not to do this. Much.
But others still do. Maybe you. And my work now is to speak up when I see it.
This dream was clearly provoked by Gloria Steinem's "Revolution from Within," which I'd just read. But seeing our souls as bars of light are straight out of Kurt Vonnegut.
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