Over the last week, as witness to what is happening in the country that I live in, the country of my birth, I have been considering a silence I carry inside of me and how I have been affected by it. How it has affected my life and my love in the world. There is violence in the kind of silence I speak about here. It is a refusal of using voice, a refusal of speaking, standing up.
The silence that stops me from standing up for what I believe in a meaningful way. That stops me from standing up to protest what I feel is injustice in a meaningful way. This is part of what I speak of. How it has stopped me in many ways.
It has stopped me, too, even more deeply, for standing up for the love that is in me – a love deep and strong and unknown. I am flawed in my ways of knowing how to love. My silence has taught me to not speak or stand up for my love. My experience has taught me it is dangerous.
I am flawed in my ways of knowing how to live this love and passion I carry.
I am a dreamer and one who works with dreams with others. I have been learning about the roots of my silence, the effects of my silence and the violence of my silence through my dreams for many, many years. I have also been learning how to come out of that silence, one dream at a time. One word at a time. One breath at a time.
A few weeks ago, I had a dream where I came to an island called Bear Island. I was with others and the others began to speak, as tourists do when travelling, about the place they have arrived. “I wonder where the bears are…”, one person asked. I began to run, my body suddenly all instinct, away from the people and toward a certain part of the island. I knew, with great clarity, where the bears were. I was running for them, soon running on four legs, in fact, rather than two. Running for home, running into my bear body.
It was a tender and stunning dream for me. For me, the dream holds the return of some part of my self, my soul self, to a kind of primalcy and instinct. A return, also, to my body, the sensuality of running, of being led by instinct, not just “thought”. The significance of bear for me, too, carries something about the part of me that spends time in the cave, sleeping and dreaming. As “bear”, I am one who consciously lives both in this world and also in the world of the dream cave.
The dream for me is about the continuing reclamation of these parts of myself that I had lost. As led by my dreams and my conscious dialogue/conversation I have with my dreams.
These past weeks, as witness to the shootings of innocent black men by men who wear the uniform of the police, as witness to the shootings of innocent men in uniform by a black man, as witness to more terrorist bombings in Baghdad, Bangladesh, and Istanbul, as witness – I have had both fear and anger flare inside of me.
And it has me facing into my own silence, my place of not speaking. Of not standing for the love I carry inside of me.
Last night I dreamt that someone stabbed me with malice – and the knife went down into my shoulder, big knife, deep into my body. The stabber was gleeful at my pain, gleeful at her act of her violence. The attacker looked a little like my mother, who passed away last year. My mother, who when she was alive attacked and tore at me (and others) with her words and accusations and desperation. Out of her own place of hurt and fear.
The knife was a big, slaughter house kind of knife.
What surprised me was that my shoulder was big too, large, wide. Not human. When I woke up, I was surprised that I was not covered in blood. And when I touched my shoulder I was surprised how small it is compared to my shoulder in my dream.
I forget that I am becoming bear.
I forget I am bear.
I “forget” because as bear I have been sliced and torn apart and stabbed and shot.
I have not been shot by police. Choked or harassed. Killed by those who are meant to protect. I have not been harassed, humiliated, held down, refused opportunities because of my color.
I acknowledge this, deeply, fully, as part of the movement to change our system.
I have been harassed, groped, forced, humiliated, violated. As woman.
I “forget” that I am bear because to be bear in my life, in my community, in my world means bearing all that comes at me. The knife sunk into my shoulder.
I “forget” that I am bear because to be bear means to learn to bear all the ways I, too, have wielded a knife. Learned at my mother’s side how to tear apart with words.
I have “used” my gift as bear to hide in my cave as if the world is not happening around me.
I choose to remember I am bear.
I choose and my claws become tools not weapons. My teeth glint in the sun and moonlight when I open my mouth to speak instead of glinting with blood.
I choose to remember and I come out of my cave carrying the wisdom of cave, of dreams, of my cave that opens me to the archetypal realm.
I choose and I choose to face the knives, the attacks, the harassment, the humiliation.
I choose and I choose to continue to face my own knives, attacks, humiliation, harassment.
I choose and I choose to bear my responsibility as bear.
I choose and I also choose passion. Love. Possibility. Fierceness. Roar. Community. Tenderness.
I choose and I also choose to find all of this in the world – because I know love, possibility, fierceness, roar, community and tenderness are in the world, too. I witness and share all of this with many in my world.
The world is not all knives and bloodshed and threat. Although there is so much.
I choose to remember bear and I remember how to find the honey. To find the river full of salmon. To find berries and bugs. To remember my time in cave and choose cave when I need it, not as a way to avoid everything.
I choose to remember who I am as bear, from the dream cave, who is not alone in facing the world with all of its contradictions, its horrors, all of its grace and love. Not alone in learning to dance with all of it and still find honey, fish, berry, bugs. When I was a little bear, I was alone. I did not have a choice but to return to my cave.
I am not a baby bear anymore. I know that I have choice – the dreams teaching me about what choice truly is. I know that I have voice, the dreams teaching me what voice truly is. For me.
I am bear and I do not face the knives that were/are/can be used on me alone anymore. I have wide shoulders as bear. To bear the grief, the pain, the horror – and to bear the love, healing and fire that rises in me.
I am bear, I am a woman and there are many others who face into the world with love, passion, fierceness.