I had some weird-ass dreams the other night.
When I woke up, I was so relieved to be back to my real life.
I used to look forward to sleep and other methods of oblivion to reprieve me from my banal existence. Counting the hours until a drink, until sundown so I could escape from the shame, boredom, confusion, monotony, and despair that was my life, eventually passing out for a few brief moments of unconsciousness. Because consciousness had become intolerable.
This morning I realized that my life has turned into the dream. I no longer dread waking up.
What a table turn.
To not have to piece together the night before, through unreliable and disjointed flashbacks. To wake up and know where my phone is and where my car is and to remember what I did the previous day, with clarity! I know it may sound simple to people who have never lived self-destructively, but for me it is a huge deal. This is what they mean in the rooms of recovery when they tell us, “Don’t quit before the miracle.”
Now that I am living the dream, there is no chasing tails or falling behind or hustling. I get to ride the magic carpet, letting it guide me to and fro, while I move with it to avoid hitting any obstructions or colliding with the wrong people or entering the wrong castles, as tantalizing as they may seem. If the carpet goes one way, I don’t try to force it the other direction by pulling at its fringes.
Entering recovery and/or surrendering to any other life transition feels a lot like stepping onto a magic carpet. The obvious and most popular option is to stay put. We think to ourselves, I’m completely fine up here in my palace, I have a pretty nice view of the world, I don’t need to be all that involved or think too deeply. It is safer to stay here. I know this place well.
Because let’s be honest, stepping onto the carpet is scary as hell. Who in their right mind would choose a flying flimsy rug over a stable concrete structure?
The palace is not only a representation of our physical placement. The whole scene is an allegory for that which keeps us from surrendering and stepping onto unfamiliar terrain. Those things that hold us back because they make us feel safe. Sometimes they can even be negative and painful, but we are so accustomed to living with them that they become security blankets we can’t let go of.
I can get very comfortable in my misery. It is becoming less so, but it still lurks there, inviting me back to blackness, trying to convince me that the light I am walking into isn’t safe. You don’t know how bright it will shine, you don’t know how bright you will shine. I know what failure looks like, I am all too familiar. But success and happiness are a huge question mark. And not as predictable. We really like things that are predictable.
So, we stay “comfortable,” whatever mental model that may be. We keep ourselves locked in hiding behind a socially acceptable, albeit poor, excuse of a jealous boyfriend or a soul-sucking job or communities who don’t understand the need for adventure. We say, Well I can always look out the window and decide to change my mind in the future.
Until you can’t… Until you draw the curtain one last time and not even one ounce of light can creep in. Until you register that you have been trapped.
Many people come to this realization on their death bed. It's tragic.
You don’t have to do it that way. You don’t have to live this way.
In Aladdin, Jasmine had been literally banned from leaving the palace, so that was a very real obstacle standing in the way of her carpet journey. And she still turned out okay. Odds are your father isn’t The Sultan. You won't be persecuted or jeopardize your family’s name and fortune. But you are stuck in that palace, nonetheless.
Do you really want to spend your life wondering what would have happened if you took that big chance and got on the carpet? Mark Twain tells us "We regret the things we don't do more than the things we do." If you're not going to take my word for it, listen to Mark Twain.
Life is a series of moments that we can decide to step onto this proverbial carpet. And each requires a firm commitment to leave the past behind and look only forward. This isn’t a one-time affair. We don’t step onto the carpet and “Wee!” all our problems are solved. Our participation and obedience are essential.
I have to surrender every day and hand the wheel over to some force I don’t even understand—if you haven’t caught onto the metaphor yet, the carpet represents whatever you conceive of as your Higher Power, call it Universe, Source, God, the list goes on.
The lighter we stay—in mind, body, and soul—the more trusting. This makes it easier for the carpet to do its job. I love the imagery of wearing life like a loose garment instead of a choking, collared button-up top, a tight-ass pencil skirt that compresses our organs, and dumb high heels that widen the space between us and the earth and gift us with blisters galore. Feel what it is like to wear the flowy, wide-legged pants that my sister calls my parachutes.
When I’m living right, I flow with the wind and remain in awe of the mysteries around me even if I don’t know what direction we are heading. I don’t fight it. I don’t jump off just because I see something shiny and new that looks or feels better than waiting it out on this patient journey. I surf it.
Someone or something usually invites us onto the carpet. They guide us, and make us see things differently, a mentor supporter friend partner.
Enter Aladdin stage left.
He gently reaches out his hand and asks those infamous words, “Do you trust me?”
This is the ultimate soul risk—trust—and it may not make sense to those around you. At face value, why would Jasmine leave her freaking palace to go on some weird carpet with a random guy her peers can’t even begin to understand? Onto a floating object, nonetheless.
It is because he takes her places she has never been. He makes her feel a way she has never felt. He makes her feel free. Those are the inclinations we follow. Jasmine isn’t trying to figure out the mechanics and inner-workings of the carpet, or how and why this guy ended up on her balcony. Her decision, the ultimate risk-taking, is solely based on her heart. Her why.
I am still reluctant to travel to unknown territory, especially when I know that a miracle is unfolding right in front of me. The darkness whispers and tries to convince me this can’t be real and that I don’t deserve it. Distorted thoughts. Not the kind of thoughts I want to determine my future.
But when Aladdin asks, “Do you trust me?” with his endearing half smile, I take a deep breath, nod, look into his big beautiful brown eyes, and answer, “Yes, I trust you.” I accept his hand and step on board. I actively decide to embark on the adventure.
Even in the moments I wonder WHY is the carpet going this way? This makes no sense.
It doesn’t matter why. We don’t have to understand it. Which is a good thing because the carpet is not going to explain itself to us or even Aladdin. It will simply and miraculously continue to support us through the storms, lead us toward the right tunnels, fly us through the sunlight with unconditional grace, all the while reminding us that every experience and energetic state are as ever-changing as the next.
I don’t know where this ride ends, or if it ever does, but I do know that I no longer hold onto a feeling of impending dread or aimless wandering or fear that I am making a wrong turn. Because it is the carpet doing the navigating, and I trust the carpet with all my heart. Which means I trust Aladdin with all my heart. The carpet sent him to me.
Today, my life is a fairytale. I am enthused by what I do on a day-to-day basis, with whom I spend my time, and my (mostly) peaceful internal state. Every day is a magic carpet ride, and I don’t want to waste a precious moment.
Next time you make a decision for your soul, I implore you, don't let anyone tell you no or where to go or say you're only dreaming.