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  • Selva Lawler

#20 - You Mustn’t Be Afraid to Dream a Little Bigger, Darling!

I'm impressed when I hear about other people's dreams. They fly around. They solve complex criminal mysteries. They become their own Marvel superhero. 

My dreams lack such sexiness. 99% of them are quite mundane. The most common two dreams I have are some permeation of 1) I have a high school soccer game later that day, and for the life of me, I can’t find my uniform; and 2) I have a high school or college final later that day, which I somehow was totally oblivious to until just now (i.e. only a couple of hours beforehand), and I had been cutting class all semester and never cracked open the textbook.

I thus don't put all that much emphasis on my dreams. I feel like dreams are the programs and systems my body and mind need to run, and it's my body's way of getting a break, healing, releasing hormones, recovering, and restoring energy. I find envisioning or visualization in a Dr. Joe Dispenza kind of way, in which I can harness my power of impassioned belief and attach a heightened emotional state to the better version of myself that I strive to be, far more valuable. 

I once asked Don Howard about dreams. Pen and paper out, I was gearing up for a lesson and for the mystery to be solved, once and for all! In response, he told me, “I wonder, wander, and ponder just like everyone else." Ok then. Mystery unsolved! 

We never really remember the beginning of a dream. Instead, we always wind up smack dab in the middle of what’s taking place. It’s why Cobb in Inception explains that in dreams, “We create and perceive our world simultaneously, and our mind does this so well that we don't even know it's happening. That allows us to get right in the middle of that process.”

The most bizarre aspect of about dreams is not that they're so bizarre. To the contrary, it’s that we can’t snuff out and notice all of the convoluted aspects to them. We don't care that dreams are so weird. As Cobb further observed in Inception, “Well, dreams, they feel real while we're in them, right? It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

We’ve all had dreams that are so fleeting, akin to the life of a blow-up bubble, that once we wake up and stop focusing on them for even a split second... poof!, they’re gone. On other occasions, they’re more like basketballs. Something tangible sticks. And then there are dreams that genuinely seem like important messages from a higher realm. I had one a few nights ago that seemed to bludgeon me over the head with a bowling ball. 

In my dream, I was sleeping over at an elementary school friend’s house. He was in his bed and I was in his guest bed, and we were chatting before we hit the hay. We were old men reflecting back on our lives, and yet, found ourselves back in his family's home. (Once again, the weirdness factor in dreams was not at all detected.)

We were both recounting how we had overlooked such obvious things in life. Namely, we both recognized how we had erred by going through our lives loving with our minds instead of our hearts. We played it small and didn't go through life with an open enough heart. We had a scarcity mindset, as opposed to an abundance mindset. 

Michael Pollan eloquently discusses in connection with How to Change Your Mind that part of the human condition is to always look for something new. That glitzy toy that's recently been released. That shiny new gadget. It's the way we're wired, but fundamentally it's a bug in the machine and in our programming. As Pollan explains, there's actually great wisdom in the obvious that we perpetually overlook.

Sometimes it takes an expert to illuminate what should be blatantly self-evident. As others have noted, sacred plant medicine teachers, when taken in the right set and setting, are like taking and completing exceedingly accelerated graduate-level courses in the obvious.

Getting back to my dream, both my friend and I, even at our geriatric age, were grateful that we had the realization. Sure, it was humiliating that it took us so long to figure out something that should be so obvious, but what a profound blessing nonetheless. Much better late than never. It's never too late to change your life for the better. Simply because we've all made poor decisions in the past shouldn't prevent us from making the correct decisions starting right now. It's always the right time to start making the right decisions.

The Game of Life can be like the School of Hard Knocks, and sometimes it takes getting whacked repeatedly with a bowling ball for something to really sink in. When I woke up from this dream, I knew that this was a special one, and I started immediately memorializing it. 

There's something to be said for radical, unconditional love. As my friend Paul once wrote, “My knowledge, though satisfying an inner desire to know, ultimately means squat. Compared to a simpleton with an open heart and a cup overflowing with Love, knowledge of the highest order is minuscule. It’s all about Love and if you can Love unconditionally, then that’s all you need to know. To put it bluntly, the dullest of dullards who has an open heart and freely offers Love is infinitely wiser than the brainiest Einstein among us who remains closed off from connecting with others.”

That's considerably harder than it sounds. It takes courage to live with an open heart. The mind and our egos - both along with us for the whole human ride - will poo-poo the process, make artificial distinctions, and cling to its self-preservation mode. Jordan Peterson has his critics, and I don’t agree with a number of his positions. Be that as it may, his contention that we should stand up straight with our shoulders back is outstanding advice. It’s a vulnerable position, as Peterson observes, because you are open to a myriad of attacks. But it's a powerful position, he contends, because it means you're brave enough to take on anything and everything that could be coming and do so with an open heart. Courage resides in that heart space.

My other favorite line from Inception is that, “You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” 

We need to wake up. We have an every-person-for-themselves, win-at-all-costs culture that chews up and spits out people who can’t keep up. We’re obviously going through an environmental upheaval. We’re incredibly divided and going through a relational crisis. We need a reengagement with the natural world. The path we’re on is not a sustainable one for ourselves or for our planet. 

Einstein articulated that, "The problem you have is not going to be solved at the level of consciousness on which you created it. You have to expand to a different level of consciousness." 

When I shared that with my buddy Paul, he really put 2 + 2 together for me in an epiphanic way. He told me, “Of course Einstein had to change his consciousness to think differently and solve the great questions of physics. I had thought that he logically scribbled it down as mathematical equations and said, ’There you have it!’ In reality, he had to think completely differently and then I imagine it all just flowed.”

I’m not a doom and gloom guy. I consider myself an optimist. But as a realist as well - as Don Howard told me, “You can’t override reality,” - the stakes have never been higher. Right now humanity stands at a massive inflection point. Things could go incredibly poorly for all of us, or we could collectively flourish in a way that the planet has never seen. I’m as convinced as anything that accessing and utilizing tools that expand our consciousness is vital if humanity is to survive - and better yet, thrive - as a collective species. We need everybody - from the Einsteins to the dullards like yours truly - on board that train.

And in the process, all of us not being afraid to dream a little bigger, darling, may be just what the Doctor ordered.

Much love, -Parker


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