“For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in Poe’s stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.
We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.
And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses. Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke, excerpt from The Dragon Princess
This is one of my favourite passages from the Rilke letters. Partly because I find Edgar Allan Poe to be the epitome of exploration into darkness. There is a curiosity that surfaces once the energy of that “dangerous insecurity” has tired itself out. It’s inevitable. I know this feeling well – this unspeakable terror of the dungeon. I also know the drive Rilke speaks of that compels us to feel what lays in the darkness. This kind of curiosity – the kind that goes into the dark spaces where few desire to go – only resides in the space on the other side of fear; on the other side of terror. So to get there, we must learn to get comfortable with it; soften fully into terror. And as we feel through the burning in our diaphragms and the pounding of our hearts, fear becomes an enticing beacon into the curiosity of the unknown – and the elation of a new discovery.
There is the terror of that first, unexpected push into that unwanted jump I’m sure most of you have encountered in life. That is your first opportunity to transmute ingrained beliefs. From there, you can learn to master quantum leaping – and it can be really, really fun!
I am facing a conundrum. I have been “living for the release” for some time now and in my routing around in my body, feel I have covered every crevice of my physical self in which the unknown is hidden. More recently, it has been a challenge to find more undiscovered places. It’s the reason I did a week of intensive myofascial treatment in Malvern back in December 2014. I wanted to get at the stuff I’d left on the back burner until my next intensive. And there it was. And there it went.
Now I am left with the questions: How much more transformation do I need? Have I cleared life’s “thousand shocks”? Am I living life free of the past? Is it simply a memory – without charge? What does one Do in a fully cleared life? Have I ever felt this state before? When I was young? Or is this the clearest I’ve ever been?
Whether it is or isn’t, I can never lose the feeling of the pain around me. The suffering of the world is a constant companion. And I belong in it. I cannot remove myself from the world. I sit among the disheartened, the desperate, the bullied, raped and beaten. The tragic atrocities do not go away simply because I have cleared the shock of my own. What has changed is that I no longer get caught up and imprisoned by the suffering of others.
And now I am at a crossroads. What to do with suffering when you no longer need to harden against it? What words for others come out of my mouth then? Here I hesitate. There is a subtle fear of not being understood. Of someone thinking to themselves “what is she talking about?” I know this inner dialogue. My therapists said things that made me think they were way off base. Yet there was always a stirring that happened inside me when these odd words were spoken. Despite my mind’s dismissal of them, my body responded, leaving me disoriented enough not take my inner dialogue so seriously. Yet I hesitate to feel foolish. The discomfort of it leaves me squirming.
I could conjure up some old drama from my past as a reason, but it’s time wasted.
I don’t like to trust my intuition. I don’t like to spend a lot of time in that wishy washy feeling. I could go into a long analysis of why that is. Again, just time wasted – I already know it leads nowhere.
What would happen if I let myself feel foolish? There is a fine discernment between intuition and craziness. I know the difference from the example of other therapists. Yet I fear “losing it”. I don’t want to become disconnected from reality. I don’t want to be “one of them”.
The roof of my mouth ripples and softens. Tears well up. My sinuses burn. We’re never done . . . there is always more. Looking deeply into the eyes of the dragon, I see the mist of a princess.