The question again revealed itself, this time in the dregs of my dreams, so, I’m releasing it here.

“Who am I outside of your pain?”

In my dream, it was directed to someone I love, as he navigated a motorcycle through a crowded street in China late at night, with my arms wrapped tightly around his back. It was a poorly timed ask, given the fact that we were wearing helmets with the wind drowning out most sound. I didn’t know if he heard, and if even if he did, I knew I wouldn’t hear his response. Tightening my arms around him, I laid my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes.

Then I woke up.

Staring at the ceiling, I imagined his eyes and wondered what it was he saw that led him to place me on a pedestal, however temporary it may have been. And as I questioned why he hadn’t put himself there also, my thoughts took me to a story I’d written as a teenager, about a young boy raised and locked in a dark cellar.

That story was based on another dream about the man to whom I asked the question above. During the day he wore a suit and worked in a corporate office and in the evening, he worked with a grungy underground cartel to restore peace to forgotten communities. I was his housekeeper, a child, and he would take breaks from his corporate job to come and visit with me, after transforming himself to a child.

The dream always stayed with me because he’d asked me to take a break and sit down with him on the couch one afternoon. Even then, his eyes were intense. He explained that he’d been sent away to learn about the ways of the world for a few years and that in that time he ceased making wishes. His eyes darkened even as he smiled at me. He said that because I hadn’t seen what he’d seen, I still had a chance to make my wishes come true.

The question means a lot to me and is likely related to my connecting the story and dream I had as a teenager to the dream I’ve recently had as an adult.

I’m not sure that gaining wisdom in this life can ever reveal the intentioned etiquette of our hearts. Because while it’s common knowledge or belief, that we are to love without expectation of being loved in return, many people struggle to reconcile such desire by separating their physical and spiritual selves while the more all-embracing challenge is to unite the two, to understand that it is our differences in nature that creates cohesion of the whole.

To place one on a pedestal is to often reveal that we are bound to our perceptions of good just as equally as we are chained to our judgments of bad and it is this binding that connects us. A man’s opinion of his successes and failures is often the stimulus that drives his actions, but such impulse indicates he is bound by the idea that the two are somehow different.

So the question comes from the original dream, where the man chose to transform rather than to integrate his childhood self before then separating his experiences of pain from my mine, suggesting that his were too heavy and that he could not bear the additional weight of hope, leaving me with the idea that darkness is the heavier burden.

Light and dark carry the same burdens, one’s absence and another’s presence have the same purpose. The sun and moon have identical responsibilities.

Somewhere within our complex expressions, we are each responsible for the other’s natural transformations. Embracing the original binding of our souls permits us to surrender to the answer.

The war that unbinds us within is the contest.
The promise of healing to bind our separation is a victory already known.
So it is, the answer is Love.