I recently started doing Morning Pages again, for the first time in many years (with any regularity). I have used mornings as my most productive writing time for a while now, but it’s been years since I did this exercise in the way intended by The Artist’s Way. If you are unfamiliar with Morning Pages, here’s a link to a brief video interview with Julia Cameron where she discusses them:
Ok, now that you know what I’m talking about, let’s continue. When I did MP in the past, my dreams were extremely vivid. Often, my pages in the morning started as sort of a dream journal, because I just couldn’t shake what had happened in my sleep and needed to pour it out somewhere. I did not connect the two things (vivid dreaming and MP) until this week.
Last night I had one of Those Dreams. You know the ones that practically knock you out of bed when you wake up? The ones that make you think, “that can’t possibly just be my subconscious clearing out the recycle bin of my brain. That was a message” ? Yeah, one of those. So I wanted to share it with you today.
There was a huge house party in one of those homes like you see in Hollywood movies – some giant Californian cliff-side mansion, with walls of windows and dozens of rooms. It seemed as though we were all celebrating something, like a wedding, but the celebration was going on for days. So many people that I knew were there, including musicians and artists I met many years ago but have not seen recently. In addition, to the wedding, there were also smaller celebrations going on because some of the artists were going through rites of passage of some kind.
Along with a young man, I am led down some stairs into a hallway with a few doors. We are guided into a room with no windows, a small dresser & bed in the back right corner. I can’t see the boy very well but I feel like we know each other in some way, he feels almost fraternal. When the door closes behind us, we can see that there are several other people in the room. It’s hard to make out their faces because it’s so dark, but they are wearing tunics in bright colors — Red, Green, White, Yellow — and have face paint on in tribal patterns. They are also each carrying a piece of fabric that matches the color of their tunics.
I understood that each of the colors represented something: Green was death, yellow was embarrassment, white was illness, etc. The people were physical representations of Fears. This was our rite of passage.
The Fears began to taunt us, and gently hit us with their fabric, gradually the taunts and attacks became more aggressive and sinister, though they never physically hurt us. The situation got more and more frightening until the boy and I huddled on the twin bed together. Eventually we realized there was nowhere we could go to escape (we knew the door would be locked) and that the best we could do was hold each other and let it come, knowing it would stop eventually.
Suddenly, it was over. The door opened and light streamed in, and we saw that the people representing the Fears were fellow Artist friends of ours. Everyone smiled and hugged us, clapped us on the back and welcomed us back upstairs to the party.
Talk about some strong metaphors, huh?!
Looking back, it seems like a perfect initiation for the person wanting to live a more creative life. All of the things you fear WILL come up, you WILL have to face them. Being an artist doesn’t mean not having those fears (or internal editors like I have!) but it does mean facing them and continuing on anyway. If you can be locked in a room with your fears and still want to carry on creating, you are on your way.