Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Undefinitis and its remedies

It's hard to match a three-headed smoking dragon for drama, but our mountain dreamers came close last weekend with the enactment of a dream of a reality TV show volunteered by Donna S, one of our Connecticut dreamers. On Donna's dream screen, the lively host of the show is helping contestants to check whether what they think they want out of life is what they really want. With lacerating clarity, the show holds up a magic mirror in which people can see their desires and jealousies for what they are. The first contestant longs for the hair, the legs and the shoes of a cool, sexy blonde. The second contestant wants the fame of a star athlete beloved of the media. The third guest on the show aches for something undefined.
Our dreamer chose Sara to play the host of the show, and Sara - a blonde, larger-than-life Italian American who has been bruised on her life road and come back laughing and full of soul - proved herself to be a natural TV diva. I slithered into into the role of "Dr Bob", a mix between Sara's shill and her ever-available resident talk therapist. We howled as the first contestant, after an elaborate makeover, struggled with whether or not to stay in her new blonde persona. Canned applause boomed when the second contestant decided the price of fame was something she wasn't willing to pay, as a swimmer in the group mimicked the actions of swimming breaststroke from New London to Bermuda.
Then we came to the Undefined. The player cast as the woman of undefined wants entered her role so completely that our infallible TV host forgot she was there and gave her place to someone who wasn't in the script. As Dr Bob, the resident guru, I was obliged to intervene. I pronounced that the woman of undefined identity and longing was a poster girl for a malady that has reached epidemic proportions in our culture. I named this foggy beast. "The medical name for the malady is undefinitis. It is a very serious complaint, because the human is an animal that must define itself or be defined by others. Letting others define who you are and what you can do puts a fatal crimp in life."
The issue raised in our dream theatre was one for all of us to address. After further games and group journeys, in the cause of curing undefinitis, I asked everyone in our circle to write a clear, simple answer to the following question: How will I live my life? Here's a sampling of the responses:
- I will live my life with the wonderment of a child

- I will live as a knight who chooses the hard way, for honor and duty

- I will live in the Now

- I will live my deepest passions

- I will live authentically

- I will live on the Earth in bare feet

- I will live to serve with a joyful heart

- I will live as if every day is the start of a new life

- I will live as if today is a good day to die
My own contribution: "I will live as a chooser, who chose the conditions of this life and chooses to remember the life contract he entered before he came here."
We need to watch for the symptoms of undefinitis, in ourselves and others. We need to be able to state who we are and what we think we are doing (though this is always going to evolve). We want to play with the idea that - however confining or harsh our circumstances may appear to be - we always have choice. Every day, we choose the story we are going to live, even when we forget we are doing this.


Barbara Butler McCoy said...

'Undefinitis' - oh, yes, I have seen this. It seems to be a serious affliction among twenty-somethings, and I find it seriously baffling. I do not understand its origins - I just do not understand how this happened, how it took hold. Your post, however, gives me a hopeful clue about how to address it when I encounter it. Thank you, thank you.

Louisa said...

Sara has such star power that our canned applause turned into truly enthusiastic cheering after her second line. This diva quality is something that one either has or does not have, and Sara has loads of it.

But Robert left out another contestant, played by Margaret, who wanted power and was paired with a macho caveman Bruno, played by Bob. When after her makeover the host asked this contestant if she got what she wanted, Margaret replied, "I feel kind of stupid. This is all physical power, and I want to manipulate people". This was unforgettable.

I was struck by the method of making over the contestant who wanted to become a blond bombshell: it was done by morphing together with the object of her admiration.

I also remember vividly the cool, detached glamour of our star swimmer, who was so utterly serene, comfortable and unruffled by the media blitz that I found myself really feeling envious of her.

Justin Patrick Moore said...

Barbara- Your comment really resonated with me. I just turned Thrity a few months back, having successfully navigated the Saturn return at the tail end of my twenties. I see a lot of people in that age group postponing what might be their life work for an "undefinite" time. And so many are lured into casual sex and indiscriminate drug use -not realizing that the soul can be a casualty. But I don't think the issue is limited to any one age group. Maybe it is widespread in the twenty-somethings now because of the soul loss sustained by culture as a whole, and the endemic materialism effecting us all. Like so much of televisual culture, "reality" shows reinforce this obsession with fame and notoriety based on these "values". So people spend good portions of their lives building up a false tower of the self, an empty mirror that reflects no light. In "The Healing Power of Story" workshop I took with Robert this past summer, one of the participants differentiated between "gossip" and "story". These tv shows are all purely gossip, whereas reality is purely story.
The twenty-somethings have great challenges to overcome, as do we all, and as Robert has also pointed out, so will have access to allies who are equal to the task.

Robert Moss said...

Hey Justin - I agree with your remarks. But let's note that the DREAM version of the reality TV show (following the "magic mirror" function of dreaming) provided real education on how to move beyond the petty agendas and confusion of the little mind toward the purposes of a wiser Self.

Robert Moss said...

Louisa, I heartily endorse your comments about Sara's star power!

Sara said...

I loved playing the talk show host. It reminded me that at times as we juggle numerous roles haracters life is like a talk show,keeping things rolling,addressing each "guest's" issues and thinking on your feet!
There were gifts for me in this role and again my heartfelt thanks to the group for making the dream theater a possibility and a hilarious teaching/learning moment for us all.

Louisa, thank you for the wonderful write up! It was my pleasure.