The Emperor Has New Clothes


From my dream journal…

April 20th.

Last night I had a dream that stuck with me.  It was so vivid.  Yet, a caveat.  It seems cheesy to think back on it, in terms of specifics, but it affected me profoundly and I have not forgotten it and thought it worth sharing this morning.

I found myself walking along a road, made of dirt and winding as it went forever upward.  The terrain reminded me of feudal China or Japan, a path following a bubbling brook visible below.  I could hear the sound of the water, as the ascending road traced the path of moving water.  The dirt was sandy, shifting slightly under my feet, making balance harder.

I came upon an older man, dressed in a simple tee shirt, sneakers, very casual. He was tossing pebbles down into the stream, watching the ripples get lost in the flow as he sat rather contently.

I immediately recognized him as the actor that played the Emperor from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, only without the make up, appearing as he later did in the new, much less regarded Star Wars movies.

It was such an odd meeting in a dream that it nearly made me laugh.  For a moment I wondered if I might see Darth Vader tossing pebbles as well.

The incognito Emperor dude looked up at me with a gentle smile.  He was nothing like his film persona.  He struck me as being so kind, so gentle.  Yet, when he spoke, his voice absolutely boomed.  It sounded like it was coming from a super amplified sound system in my head.  Nearly unbearable.

He said to me, way too loudly, “You cannot change anyone.  You cannot force someone to change, and this you must recognize.”

As probably with most people no doubt, I often get frustrated by the ways of the world I cannot change, by actions of others both general and specific.  We all want to think, “I can fix this.  I can fix this person, I can fix this issue, this crisis, this THING that I know is wrong.

Well, really all “I” can do is talk until I’m blue in the face about things I believe or don’t believe.  I’ll never convince you even that the sky is blue if you aren’t ready to hear me out, right?

Truth be known sometimes I can find myself carrying another person’s issues around with me.  But then, who has the problem really?  Them… or me?
Today I thought a lot about the words said to me by “the Emporer” in my dream.  I think my dreaming self conjured that image of the Emperor in such casual clothing as if to tell me, “lighten up, buddy”, the things that you’re taking so hard will not be changed by the force of your desire to change them.   Change starts within yourself and ends there two.  What change you can manifest within will work it’s way without, without the drama of your ego getting in the way.

I believe it the Emporer’s words to me point out how important it is to accept every person for wherever they are at and what they are going through.  This, to me, does not mean that I cannot speak my mind or point out a bad situation in the hopes of helping a friend in need, it merely means that once the advice is given, it is like tossing a rock into a stream.  We do not know where it will go, or what impact it will truly have, yet we have done it and now have no choice but to let it go where it may.  We can’t second guess the wind or the water or the rock.

It’s about attempting to holding onto what is impossible to hold except in our own egos, because, let’s face it, it all boils down to ego, doesn’t it?

It reminds me of a parable I once heard somewhere, also taking place in feudal China I believe.  There were these two monks, walking down a winding path made of dirt.

They came to a muddy patch, where a beautiful maiden was waiting on one side of the path, unable to cross due to the mud.

The older of the two monks quickly approached the maiden, lifted her up over his shoulder and carried her bodily across the muddy patch.  She thanked him and the two monks walked on.  The entire rest of the walk to their temple, the younger of the two monks glared at the older one, until finally the older monk stopped and asked, “What’s troubling you, brother?”

The red faced younger monk finally blurted out, “We’ve taken a vow never to touch a woman, and here you were lifting that one up and carrying her!”

The old monk merely smiled and said, “Dear brother, I carried her only a moment, you, on the other hand, have carried her all this way.”

As the Emperor in my dream showed with each skip of a stone, we cannot control the force of the stream with that single stone tossed into the running water and it would be foolish to try and foolish to stress over where the water may take it once it disappears beneath the surface.  Everyone and everything has it’s course.  The important thing, all we can  do really, is toss, and continue to walk down the sandy path toward where we need to go more fully present in each step.

Change comes only to those who seek it and it comes on its own terms.   We have to leave the specifics of change to something greater than our own egos and see that setting the laser beams of change in motion starts at your own door, not up in the Death Star.

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