|"Crossroads" (c) by Martin Liebermann|
I am savoring the epigraph to a novel (Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon) I picked up at Heathrow airport at the end of a recent visit to the UK. The quote is from the essays of Montaigne:
We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each piece, each moment, plays its own game. And so there is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.
One of the gifts of dreaming is that we are introduced to those other pieces of ourselves. Some of them, in our dreams, seem to be living lives quite different from ours, as if they have taken off along roads not taken by our ruling personality in the world of our physical experience.
One of the fine arts of personal evolution is to rise to a clearer understanding of our many selves, and make helpful bridges between them, so we can draw on the skills and energy and experience of all of them.
This may require us to track the life passages of our parallel selves, those who followed roads not taken in our physical lives - the self who stayed with that former partner, or in that former job, or at that former home, and has been traveling ever since on what (to our waking mind) appears to be a ghost trail. What if it were possible to reach to some of these alternate selves, and share gifts and life experiences with them in mutually supportive ways?
At a recent retreat, a group of our frequent fliers agreed to journey back -with the aid of shamanic drumming - to an important crossroads in each of our earlier lives, and to seek to follow the parallel self that made a different choice from what put us where we are now. The assignment was to track this alternate self from that moment of choice all the way up to the present time, make an inventory of what went wrong or right on that other path and then - most importantly - to harvest lessons and gifts from the alternate life trajectory. The results of this journey were amazing, and suggest promising new paths to personal evolution and healing in the multiverse.