A line from one of my favorite movies ever, Thunderheart, has stayed with me in the two decades since I first saw it. The film tells the story of an FBI agent played by Val Kilmer called to a Native American reservation to investigate a murder. Since this agent is partly Sioux in his bloodline, the government sends him hoping to soften the residents of the reservation toward him so they will cooperate with the investigation. He is, however, a hot shot with no interest in being identified as Sioux; to him they are primitive, foolish and out of touch with modernity. When he finds himself in the company of their most respected elder, a translator delivers the words of a vision the elder is having – the agent has great standing in this community as a warrior (and the movie goes on to describe why this is so) but, in his present awareness the elder says to him “You are as far from yourself as a hawk is from the moon.”
The story is epic to me. It describes perfectly, in my mind, our modern dilemma as humans. We simply have forgotten who we are. We are as far from ourselves as a hawk is from the moon.
How modernity has led us into this distant wilderness is a topic discussed thoughtfully by eco-theologians, eco-psycholgists, depth psychologists, and many social, anthropological and spiritual analysts. The simple fact remains that each of us, as individuals, have work to do to remember who we are. We have been forgotten. We are forgotten. We forgot. But we can, and must remember.
Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? This may be the most profound meditation a human can consider. The layers of this question will quickly take one past narcissistic and individualistic ideations into a deeper story of identity.
I write about this now because for some reason I keep witnessing the question surfacing in my mind and in the minds of friends, clients and colleagues. I wonder if this might be a result of the shift suggested in the calendar that moved us through 2012 and into a next phase of earth’s evolution. Old answers and old assumptions about who we are – individually, collectively and planetarily – don’t seem to hold power in the same way. People are casting about, bravely, with this question.
To me, in my way of seeing and describing, I would say we have lost the dreaming. Our forebears dreamed, remembered their dreams, discussed, revered and were guided by their dreams. Dreaming is, and was, a dimension of consciousness, a locus of operation in both day and night. To forget this is to lose ourselves and the terrain of the imaginal, a real realm in which our subtle bodies work out situations in the worlds we inhabit.
We are now, collectively, as far from ourselves as a hawk is from the moon. But remembrance is possible and seems to be beckoning. An open doorway stands straight ahead. Crossing its threshold requires willingness, imagination, humility and sense of adventure. But I see it, we’ve got it, we can do this. We can shorten the gap between hawk and moon. I know it. I’m looking forward to it.