“Dear Toko-pa: I dream a beautiful, white horse is stuck in a cleft in a rock face. I and other people around me are sorry for the horse but apparently are doing nothing about it. A youngish man who looks very poor and unkempt, like a street person, rescues the horse by leading it out of its predicament, and everyone is gratified. Of the people standing there it is one of society’s so-called “rejects” that steps forward to save the animal. The stupid horse could have got himself out of trouble if it had simply ducked its head under the overhanging rock and walked forward! I am currently struggling with lack of money, an upcoming change in my job and a potential move, in addition to recent sad deaths and the resulting fallout among family members. Thanks for any insight you can offer – Patty.”

Dear Patty;

The mission of your dream is to get your horse unstuck and move forward. While the horse itself is intriguing with its storybook beauty, and his rescuer is unexpected, I am most curious about the overhanging rock which is keeping you stuck in the first place.

It is a strange habit of humans to invent stories, but they seem to be how we integrate the events of our lives. By stitching together our experiences into meaningful sequences, we define ourselves and our mythic trajectory in the world. But as we grow and change, so too must our stories evolve. Though the rock has formed from years of compression and accumulation, it is anything but fixed. It is constantly, subtly eroding and taking new forms.

Are you wearing your story, or is it wearing you? Do you often describe things as hard? Use words like Never and Always? Do you expect the worst, even when things are going well? Our tragedy stories tell of the adversity we’ve endured and likely evolved as a way of honouring our hardship, but they also tie us to our victimization.

Even if the old story cramps you and you have to make yourself smaller to accommodate it, it is where you are at, and therefore know it as home. When you demolish that comfort zone, you don’t instantly fit into your larger accommodations. You must grow into them. And the meanwhile is a kind of free-fall.

Our ex-spaces, ex-jobs, ex-lovers and ex-attitudes become like old skins. No wonder we mourn them and, sometimes perversely, keep wearing them. They are like grooves in vinyl which we have spun and spun and which signify milestones on our journeys.

The needle of our consciousness wants to slip into those grooves, (otherwise known as ruts), but the far more difficult task is digging new grooves. But once we do, we can never go back. It is like visiting a childhood place and finding it shrunk. Really, it is us who have grown.

Your horse’s unattainable beauty may be its liability. If it wants to run free, it will have to step out of perfectionism and get a bit dirty. As your catalyst, the homeless man is the embodiment of groundlessness; the part of you that is afraid to lose everything but is no longer content to remain safe either. He is without the anchor of position, unencumbered by responsibility and possesses nothing but the secret of how to lead you out of your stuckness.