Nov 092007

There’s a great scene in Osmosis Jones, a semi-animated flick about the insides of zookeeper Frank Detomello’s (Bill Murray) body, when a serious virus hits “City of Frank.” Instead of going to see a doctor, he pops a flu pill saying, “Sick? I’m not getting sick! I have far too much planned.” Meanwhile, down in the ailing metropolis of Frank, the mayor (without due process) throws the Override Switch.

ignore.pngIt’s remarkable how many times in a single day we do the same. If we aren’t ignoring the messages from our bodies, we are behaving oppositely to our feelings, doing what’s expected, staying in the canoe when we’d rather bail, acting kindly when we’re mad as hell, or putting on a happy face to mask the miserable.

Now, at first glance, overriding may not seem problematic.After all, we have to behave in civilized society. We can’t just throw tantrums in the grocery aisles when we feel tired and fed up.But when you consider the cumulative effect of a society of overriders, the results are staggering.

To understand what override looks like at the collective level, consider the sheer volume of people taking antidepressants (prescriptions for SSRIs in Canada increased from 3.2 to 14.5 million between 1981 and 2000), and then wonder why depression is still on the rise.Or ask why such a high number of sexual predators are associated with the religious and moral right. You might even begin to wonder what lives under our tendency to violence in this society.

“To make war is an inability with grief,” says poet and shaman Martín Prechtel, “Shame and depression are an inability with grief. Grief is the source of art. The only source of art. Violence is an inability with grief.”

You can feel how infinitely more relaxing this story is from the one we’re normally taught.As I overheard a mother instructing her distraught toddler in Override 101 the other day, “Superman doesn’t cry!” The creative individual, Prechtel teaches, reaches into his grief and discomforts for poetry. Now while you may not consider yourself an artist, what is life but a sculpture of one’s choices?

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, talks about override in slightly different terms. He says that most of our difficulties come from resisting the present moment. Resistances are normal, but instead of affirming whatever is coming up, we resist our resistance, placing another “no” on top of the first “no,” telling ourselves we shouldn’t feel that way, we don’t want that pain, we should be more evolved, less emotional, stronger, etc.

Death and the Maiden, by Laurie Lipton

Death and the Maiden, by Laurie Lipton

The first step to dropping resistance is listening to it.Until we can do that, it will keep coming up and we’ll find ourselves on the Override Loop, “Argh.I hate this situation!But I should be more patient.Argh.I hate this situation!”

Yessing the dilemma does not mean staying in it.But you can only take action to rectify your predicament once you’ve admitted you’re in one.From there, you can begin to drop that which is draining or embittering you and redirect your energy towards that which you love.

“You love what you love more than you love your hate,” Prechtel teaches. “If what you love is the divine, story, culture, children, then instead of blowing a whistle, you’ll strive to keep the seeds alive.”

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A writer, artist and tender of dreams, Toko-pa has been interviewed by CNN News & BBC Radio and her writing has appeared in publications around the world. Thanks to Skype, she works with dreamers internationally in her Private Dreamwork practice, based on Salt Spring Island in Canada. You can find Toko-pa on Facebook or sign up for her mailing list to receive news about upcoming events.

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  3 Responses to “Dreamspeak: Under the Override”

  1. You don’t know what Love is until you the meaning of the Blues. Until you’ve lost a love you’ve had to lose.
    You don’t know how hearts burn
    for love that cannot live yet never dies
    until you’ve faced a dawn with sleepless eyes
    you don’t know…
    Do you know how a lost heart fears the pain of remeniscing?
    And how lips that taste of tears, lose their taste for kissing…
    -exerpts from an old Jazz standard

    Yup- you nailed it Toko. Depression is nothing but the act of pushing down- emotions, inner knowledge of what is True and covering it up with layers of Shi.. I mean SHOULD.

    Those emotions don’t take kindly to being stifled and the truth just continues to whisper to you in quiet moments anyways. But this act of denial- depression- has the unfortunate side-effect that it inverts your perception of poison and antidote:
    Truth and Emotion are perceived as the Enemy and Bullshould is seen as the only ‘coping strategy’.
    Nasty Business really; I don’t reccomend it.

    Thanks Toko for telling it like it T. I. is.

  2. growing pains
    that’s what you’re talking about
    the pain of growing
    can’t be avoided
    if you want to grow
    and the only other alternative
    is the numbness
    of of the override
    the drug of speed

    but you can’t run away
    you can’t hide
    it all about the muck
    that’s how plants grow

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