On Fairy Tales

Often we can see some­one else — a friend, per­haps — liv­ing out their untrue sto­ry, and we want to help. The oth­er per­son says some­thing like…

“I’m an out­sider — that’s just my nature!” — a sto­ry of feel­ing separate
“What­ev­er room I’m in, I’m the smartest one there!” — also a sto­ry of feel­ing separate
“I nev­er learned to stand up for myself!” — a sto­ry of emo­tion­al weakness
“I’m an extro­vert, and I like to joke around. So what?” — also a sto­ry of emo­tion­al weakness.
“I don’t real­ly have a choice!” — a sto­ry of victimhood.
“Nobody is that gen­er­ous to me!” — also a sto­ry of victimhood.
“I don’t have enough self-dis­ci­pline!” — a sto­ry of moral failing
“Most peo­ple I know don’t have a work eth­ic” — also a sto­ry of moral failing
“I’ve had to fight for every­thing I’ve ever received” — a sto­ry of scarcity
“There are win­ners and there are losers” — also a sto­ry of scarcity

If we are close to the per­son and have often expe­ri­enced some aspect of their truer, nobler nature we might want to shout:


It can be like shout­ing “Wake up!” to some­one total­ly asleep. The per­son may seem deaf to us, maybe even in a kind of coma as they live out their air­tight untruth. It’s their sto­ry, told to them­selves again and again, rewiring the neur­al path­ways of the brain with the same old “facts,” that aren’t facts so much as nar­row, con­trol­ling rules of iden­ti­ty, embed­ded beliefs, fairy tales.

It’s often so much eas­i­er to see these things in oth­ers rather than in our­selves. It’s not near­ly so easy to hack into our own belief sys­tem, espe­cial­ly the aspects that formed as lit­tle chil­dren, maybe before we were even con­scious of ourselves.

As a con­se­quence, we don’t hear the shouts from out­side either. Our untrue sto­ries keep us fast asleep, too. 

You have to imag­ine that you and I are neigh­bors devot­ed to help­ing each oth­er. But I shout and you sleep. And you shout while I sleep. Nei­ther of us is wak­ing up.

What hap­pens? One day, I vis­it you in your dream and I say, “You know that thing I’ve been say­ing about myself — I’m think­ing it’s not real­ly true.” In your dream you hear me say these words and you say to me in return, “Yes, you know that thing I’ve been say­ing to myself — I’m think­ing it’s not real­ly true either.” 

I get it now,” I say to you in the dream. “Yes,” you say, “I get it, too.” We agree not to fight about it any­more and to stop telling each oth­er and our­selves those same old untrue sto­ries. We agree to help each oth­er with that.

We wake up at the same time, you in your house, me in mine, each expe­ri­enc­ing a strange sen­sa­tion from such a lucid dream. Lat­er, we greet each oth­er across the back fence and some­how it feels like we have known each oth­er forever.


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  • Love you my friend. xo

  • Thank you, Saman­tha. I know you get this one in your bones. Hugs back!

  • Margaret Siemers wrote:

    Sounds as if you have just wok­en up Dan.

    All are wor­thy, all share great­ness and all need to believe in them­selves. Now we sim­ply need to get “All” to believe that. 🙂 

    I aim hap­py you had such a won­der­ful trip and that it has renewed your spirit. 

    I enjoyed this writing.

  • Mar­garet! Thank you so much for stop­ping by! I don’t real­ly res­onate with the notion of hav­ing “just wok­en up.” I think we are all in a con­stant process of awak­en­ing, and so per­haps I should have used some oth­er metaphor. But it is a beau­ti­ful notion, isn’t it, that we can help one anoth­er by appear­ing in one anoth­er’ dreams? And isn’t it this “dream­time” that we use to find a way to con­nect and real­ize what is true? 

    Ah well, I know that you love this work. Love it in your heart. I am moved that you would choose to share with me here in this hum­ble hut tossed about in the wind and high in remote moun­tains — and whether or not it is pos­si­ble to get all to believe. What seems to be most impor­tant is that you and I and a whole lot of won­der­ful human beings believe.

    I did have such a love­ly time on the expe­di­tion, and can only say “Namaste” to you and bow to the spir­it that makes mean­ing­ful our lives together.

    Many Bless­ings!

  • How sim­ple things real­ly are, aren’t they? Is being uncon­scious real­ly liv­ing ful­ly? Panache Desai speaks of the “whis­per” — these small bless­ings offered by peo­ple and events in our lives that we often don’t hear. I feel your post as an invi­ta­tion to hear that whis­per that’s also qui­et­ly tak­ing care of us on a dai­ly basis. My expe­ri­ence of tun­ing-in deep­er with­in has been made eas­i­er when I start­ed to sur­ren­der and let go, to real­ly allow myself to be. So I now focus on being every day. Liv­ing con­scious­ly by appre­ci­at­ing life, peo­ple and events. Wave after wave of bliss. Thank you Dan for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with you through your inspi­ra­tional posts. Namaste

  • Johann, I am so much with you on the “whis­pers” and the “tun­ing-in” deep­er and sur­ren­der. It seems to me your work is per­fect­ly defined in this com­ment, your work to real­ly allow your­self to be. In doing so you help all of us with that same per­mis­sion, the lack of which is like the spir­i­tu­al dis­ease of our time. Every expe­ri­ence of bliss in that sur­ren­der can be a moment of heal­ing. Read­ing your love­ly com­ment and hear­ing your voice in my ear (a whis­per, too!), well, what can I say except thank you, my friend.

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