I don't know if you've ever written your story in this way before, but there is something so powerful about being the heroine of your own tale. I first learned to do this in an Animas program with Bill Plotkin. I had to tell my story as a myth, under a moon lit sky, in the red rocks of Cortez, Colorado. I was nervous and way out of my comfort zone, but I did it. I've written it a few times since and it's never the same tale twice.
I applied to be a speaker for Women Talk Red Deer and I thought telling my story as a myth, again, would be a great way to express my self to a group of ladies. The following tale is that story....enjoy.
The Journey of Bright Light
Once upon a time, there was a bright star in the heavens. This star was special and it shone so brightly, just like it had been made to do since the beginning of time. One day, the Great Mystery, noticed this beautiful, bright light and decided it was time for this light to take its place inside a human, and shine brightly on earth, just as it had done in the heavens. The star agreed to this task for there was no greater honour.
There was a village, famous for it's darkness, into which this light was sent, in the form of a tiny, seemingly ordinary baby. The woman, whose job it was to grow this baby, was lonely and afraid. She found herself expecting this baby but had no way to look after her. So, upon labouring to bring this one into the world, she gave the baby away. This beautiful baby, born from the heavens, found herself with a great, painful wound, that of being all alone. Never before had she experienced such agonizing pain and loss. She vowed that no matter what, she would make sure that she never felt this kind of pain again. She did not forget her light, as little ones never forget what they have come here to bring, at least not at first.... For a while, she remembered who she was, a bright light come to shine, and now, with a wound, not visible from the outside, but felt on the inside.
One day, our bright, wounded heroine, found her way to the home of a local villager and his wife. Their home lay on the edge of the village, somewhat isolated from the rest of the people. The man earned his living as a woodcutter. He left the house when it was dark and came home in the dark, he lived his life in darkness. His wife, also lived in the dark, but mostly because she wore a mask and because of it, could not, or would not, see and was stuck, in her own darkness. It is said, that they desired our little heroine because her light still shone so brightly and neither the woodcutter nor his wife knew that they too, carried their own gifts inside, since they had long since forgotten who they were.
At first, the woodcutter and his wife were delighted by our little, Bright Light. She provided some light in their dreary lives. Our Bright Light loved to laugh and to play. She lived as if enchanted with the world around her. Her light was contagious and sought after by the people in the village. It was perfect, except for every once and awhile when she was reminded that along side this light was her wound, always with her, just under the surface.
The woodcutter, originally delighted by this Bright Light, came to resent her way of being in the world. He found the light too bright, too beautiful, too enchanting. He desired this light for himself. He wanted to take it, to own it, to touch it. He began plotting ways to make the light his own. He watched her, intently. The woodcutter's wife, you remember, was living in her own sort of darkness. She saw that our Bright Light was in danger but told herself that the light was best left alone, so she put her mask on even tighter and went to sleep. In the village it is said that she sleeps, maybe even to this very day.
Now, our Bright Light, was starting to feel the attention from the woodcutter and the disappearance of the woodcutter's wife. She felt that is was the fault of her bright light. By now, she was forgetting why she even was a Bright Light and decided that it would be better to be rid of her bright light than to make others envious and angry and then to find herself all alone again. She did, however, know that she couldn't let the woodcutter have her bright light, that she must protect it from him.
Living this bright had become dangerous, too risky.
Now, you may not know this, but all such gifts are removable and the gifted one must only ask the gift to come out in order for the gift to be protected. Our heroine knew this, asked, and her bright light came out, right into her hand.
As it happened, as it often does in these kinds of stories, there came through town, an old wise, witchy, woman, with a tinkers cart, selling her wares. Our one with the bright light, came to the center of the village, to see if the old woman had something to trade for her light. The woman, being wise and witchy, knew that selling this bright light was going to cost the young girl but she also knew something of the cost of living such gifts into the world. She offered the girl a trade – her bright light for a magic pill. A pill to help her forget that she had ever even had a bright light and, to forget that she had ever even had a painful wound, for it seems that these must be forgotten together. The old woman also said that she would give her a new name – no one would remember who she was, including herself. Now, to you, that might sound tragic, but to our heroine, it sounded perfect! Her brightness was costing too much and the wound too painful. She agreed to forget who she was, to accept a new name. Your name, the old woman told her, will be Good Girl. You will be good, accommodating and helpful. She took the pill and swallowed. Instantly, she forgot her old name, Bright Light, and her wound of aloneness. She became Good Girl, one who never threatens anyone with her brightness and is therefore never alone. What the old, witchy, wise woman forgot to mention, was that hidden inside every forgetting pill, is a tiny bit of remembering, for those who are willing to taste it when the time is right. She told Good Girl, if she ever wanted to find her, to look for her in the Valley of Sorrows, for that's where she lives. Well, everyone knows where the Valley of Sorrows is, but no one wants to go there, so she bid the old women good-bye and headed home.
Life settled into a rhythm. Good Girl did what she was told, accommodated others and helped wherever she could. But, every once and awhile, a thought would enter her head like, “Is this all there is? Is this all I am?”. If she got busy enough, however, the thought would become so faint she didn't even hear it. She let people tell her who she was, and didn't even feel the questions burning at her core. And life went on that way, for a long time.....
One day, after having moved into her own hut in the village, marrying a villager and having some babies of her own, she found herself drawn, or maybe compelled, to go on a journey. To find what, she did not know. Now going on this journey would not be easy. It's never easy for one such as herself, a Good Girl, to go off on her own journey. But, the day came and she found herself kissing her family good-bye and setting off for the Valley of Sorrows...for where else could her journey take her? People said she was crazy, wondered why she would knowingly go there. She couldn't explain it, she just knew that it was something she had to do. There was something there for her. She travelled light – hard to know what to pack for such a journey. Somehow, she knew, she would have, or find, what she needed. The road she travelled was very narrow and very dark. She passed hardly a soul. She knew this was no easy journey and many times, she was tempted to turn back. Who can say why she didn't, no one knows for sure. There was something in our heroine that caused her to go on, some say a hunger, some say a longing. Whatever it was, it brought her to the end of this particular road, and at the end of the road was a door, and on the door were written these words..... (Poem by Adrienne Rich)
Prospective Immigrants Please Note
Either you will
go through this door
or you will not go through.
If you go through
there is always the risk
of remembering your name.
Things look at you doubly
and you must look back
and let them happen.
If you do not go through
it is possible to live worthily
to maintain you attitudes
to hold your position
to die bravely
but much will blind you,
much will evade you,
at what cost, who knows?
The door itself makes no promises
It is only a door.
Taking a deep breath, she put her hand on the handle, turned and opened the door.....
Now, I wish I could tell you that once she opened the door, the rest was easy. But as with all heroic stories, there are painful discoveries to make, things to unravel, old wounds to feel. This business of descending into the Valley of Sorrows to find the treasure that you seek, is fraught with danger and peril, and it is a very long journey. Our heroine was in this valley for what seemed like and could have, in fact, been years. It was the hardest thing she had ever done. In this place, she was invited to make discoveries about what it had cost her to live as a good girl, accommodating others at the expense of herself. She learned about what she had done with all her so called “negative” feelings, the ones she had not been allowed to feel. She learned what pains she had stored in her body, some she had done to herself, and some had come from other people. She learned to truly see herself and to love who she found, pain and all.
One day, after a long day of wandering, she found herself outside a hut, many days, or years, travel into the valley. The sign over the hut read, “Here, All Dwell Free”. Intrigued, our heroine knocked on the door. Who should open it but our wise, witchy, old woman, who, of course, our heroine can no longer remember. Even not remembering, she had been drawn here just the same. The old woman hugged her and welcomed her inside saying, “Welcome Home”. Our heroine, not really understanding but knowing she had indeed found what she was looking for and had arrived at her destination, walked inside.
As it is with these stories, it appeared that the old woman had been waiting for our heroine all this time and had never stopped watching for or indeed, drawing her to this very place, at this very time. On the table was some hot tea and a beautiful treasure chest with the words, Bright Light, engraved on the top. Our heroine knew that the chest was for her and sat down at the table. Now there is always some caution to be exercised when we find the treasure we are seeking, for we can never return home the same as we left once we remember our name. There is a cost to be counted. Our heroine, having learned some wisdom in her travels, knew this was not a gift to be taken lightly. Reverently touching the chest, she thought of the people she was going back to and the roles she had played. She knew she was willing to let go of her way of being in the world and discover what her treasure was, so, she carefully opened the lid.
Immediately, she remembered. She felt her original, devastating pain. She heard in her head, “Oh my God, I'm all Alone!”. She wept for the one of her who had found herself all alone those many years ago. She wept for the good girl she had to become in order to survive. She wept for the pain the woodcutter and his wife had caused. She wept for the darkness and for how she had had to sell her birthright to an old lady. When all her tears had been shed, the old lady invited her to look once more inside the chest. There, inside, was her Bright Light, even brighter than before. The old lady carefully lifted it out of the chest and held it before her. Our heroine, weeping again, knew that this time, she would not need to hide this light. She knew that this was her gift, that it was her job to shine. She could use her light to show others how to find their gifts, their treasures. She didn't have to worry about her light being stolen or about it being too bright, it was just her job to shine. She took the light and held it to her heart where it took up its place of residence, shining brightly for all eternity. The old woman hugged her and sent our heroine, Bright Light, on her way, knowing her light would guide her from here on in, wherever she had to go, whatever she had to do.
Our Bright Light returned to her village with her gift for her people. She can still be found, to this day, shining brightly.
Thank you for reading. We are, all of us, living a heroines/hero's tale. We, all of us, have a gift to bring to our people. I hope you are finding yours.