I have a friend who is always regretting that she did not become an operatic singer; instead she bowed to her mother’s fears and earned a sure living so that she could support her mom. Fifty years later she still regrets that she didn’t fulfill what she thinks she was destined to. Obviously the short answer is that if it were her destiny, it would have happened.
I told her that perhaps it was from a great well of compassion, not weakness, that she surrendered her private aspirations. This woman did indeed have a great feeling of love for her mom and out of that feeling we sometimes surrender our own desires. Sacrifice can be a kind and holy deed. I also pointed out that she could still have taken singing lessons and continued that aspiration; to that she really had no answer.
There are some instances however in which people feel that if they do not fulfill who they are, that something will die within them and they could not bear the great sacrifice asked. This reminds me of a story that Carl Jung told in his book Memories, Dreams and Reflections, which has been one of the “stories” in my life that I have often told because of the great resonance to it that I feel.
A young Jewish woman came to see Jung suffering from severe depression. He saw a beautiful, intelligent, well married and well cared for woman and asked himself from where the depression arose. That night after meeting her, he dreamed that he bowed low before her, in some way acknowledging her as a holy woman. When he told the woman about his dream, she told him that her father had been an atheist and raised his children similarly. And then to Jung’s amazement, she spoke of her grandfather who was reputed to be a tzaddik, a great holy person who appears perhaps once every millennium and who possesses great spiritual powers. From Jung’s dream, it became clear to him that this woman also possessed great mystical qualities within her that had not been allowed to grow, and this had caused her great depression. She left his session with deep gratitude.
Similarly, what might abide deeply within us that can be brought to the fore and allowed to flourish? The question then arises: Whose dance are you dancing this lifetime?
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