"Come in, sit down, and let me get you something to eat!" Raven was petite, businesslike and assertive. She moved and talked in ways that left little doubt as to who was in charge. Her manner was friendly, but also no-nonsense.
Lucas glanced sideways at Samantha, a little worried she might not respond so well to Raven. Samantha's eyes glinted, and she smiled at Lucas as if to say "I see what you mean." It seemed some of his stories had prepared her a little for Raven.
Samantha tried to find a time to ask a question, but Raven kept up a light patter about what kind of lunch meat they wanted on which kind of bread, asking in successive either or questions whether they wanted wheat or rye, toasted or not, Swiss cheese or no cheese, etc and Samantha decided to allow Raven to steer the lunchtime conversation. She hadn't been able to really eat a proper breakfast with her stomach in knots of anticipation and excitement, and enjoyed her sandwich immensely side by side with Lucas. Raven bustled about in the kitchen while they ate on the island and then brought a tray with three tall glasses of iced tea.
"Now! Let me get a look at you two." She handed them each their iced teas, and took a long draw on her own straw as she gazed with unfocused eyes at alternately Samantha and then Lucas.
Samantha held her breath for a full thirty seconds, and then broke free and sipped her iced tea. She looked shyly back at Raven, and though her mind was full of questions she could not figure where to begin, and her mind drew a blank. Then she felt a tremor begin in her spine at about her mid-back and she didn't know what it was, and she closed her eyes and felt herself shaking uncontrollably. She felt joy, but she also felt tears rolling down her cheeks. With her eyes closed, an image still arrived in her mind's eye. An image of a strong woman, tall, slender, powerful and self-assured and somehow this woman was herself in another realm. And there was also Raven, but in another shape, not a bird, but a shaman like an old Indian man with a bird mask on, with rough leathery skin and joyful twinkling eyes and a tough exterior. She felt these two powerful beings square off, meet as equals, and nod to one another.
When she opened her eyes, Samantha was surprised to still be sitting upright at the island, holding her iced tea Lucas beside her. As though no time had passed, but eons stretched between the self that had sat down for lunch and the self that had lifted her glass to her lips, Samantha gazed fully upon Raven.
Raven looked her dead on, and then grunted.
"You need to stay with me tonight. Both of you can call in sick tomorrow, this is too important and it cannot wait."
Samantha had no intention to disagree. She needed answers more than her team needed her there tomorrow. She looked at Lucas, and his brow was wrinkled.
"Did I miss something?" He was looking from one to the other, and then settled on Samantha. Something had changed in her aspect. She had been so fragile, so vulnerable, so in need of rescuing ever since he'd met her. But now there was steel in her eyes, a strength he hadn't smelled in her before, and something...dangerous. He sniffed. "What just happened?"
Samantha was not sure she could put into words anyway, but she touched his arm in a reassuring gesture and said "I can't thank you enough for introducing us." Her eyes were shining, but clear.
"Lucas, be a dear and wash up while Samantha and I go chat for a few minutes." It wasn't a question, but he couldn't refuse her even if he wanted to.
"Alright Samantha, let's go sit on the front porch swing with our tea and get acquainted."
Samantha followed her, hope rising in her chest, and gratitude threatened to send fresh tears rolling down her cheeks. She dashed her fingers against the corners of her eyes and tried to pull herself together, tried to reconnect with that inner mystical woman she had just seen as some aspect of herself.
When they sat together for a few minutes neither one of them broke the silence. Samantha wasn't sure what she was waiting for, but it didn't feel right to speak yet. They sat, they sipped, they breathed. And then an avalanche of words that had been trapped in her somehow spilled forth.
"What did you see? Did you see the same things I saw? Does it mean something, oh well of course it must mean something somehow, but how on earth does one sort through and know with certainty the meaning not only of what I saw about myself, at least I think it was my self or an extension of myself or an aspect of my self, but not to mention of you or for that matter of Lucas or any of the other strange visions and impulses I've had!?" She paused to take a breath and then muttered "I don't know where to start or how this works, and I've been so lost and alone..." and she trailed off.
Raven glanced at her sideways.
"I remember what it was like at the beginning. I understand. Answers will come, but not fast enough. And some answers you won't like. And some you won't understand until many years later. But the fact is you are not alone. And you are stronger than you portray. Why do you act so weak? Is it so others around you are not threatened by your strength, or is it to allow them the role of hero? Either way that role no longer suits you. Can you let it go?"
Samantha was startled. She didn't think she acted weak. She was a leader at work. She was in charge of a department. But then she paused and reflected. Perhaps she allowed others to feel important because it puffed them up. Maybe she down-played her own importance at work so that others could shine. Why did she act weaker, pause longer, step back?
"I will need to think about that. I was not conscious I was doing that."
"That is the most dangerous mask we ever wear, dear. The one we forget is a mask. The one we mistake for our true selves."
Samantha sat with that in discomfort and in silence for a long time.
Thank you for visiting!
The Double Meaning behind the blog title 'Dream Follower:'
First, for 14 years I was a ballroom & social dance instructor, and have studied both leading and following. I feel that learning to follow is full of nuance and is often misunderstood. I made it one of my personal goals to become a really excellent follow on the dance floor, and will probably talk a lot about the art of following - both in and out of the context of dance.
Second, I am a huge fan of author Michael Ende, probably best known for The Neverending Story. The book is incredible, and the first film captured some of the essence. (Please don't watch the other two films...I urge you to read the book though!) Anyway, at least twice in my life I have been caught in a storm of my own indecision, and my inner Moon Princess yelled to my inner Bastian...'Why don't you do what you dream?' I tear up even now as I write this little blurb. The tension between being practical, keeping my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds (at the risk of compromising my inner vibrancy, true self, and who knows what else)...and reaching for my true dreams (at the risk of losing everything) is still a very real struggle. In fact, one of those struggles lead to my 14 years of teaching dance, so we can see which voice won the battle that fateful day when I was staring at the want-ad...
And so I strive to be two kinds of Dream Followers in my life. One has to do with connecting with others, and the other has to do with connecting with my inner Moon Princess and the world of possibility that opens when I do...