We know this is true of the tales that thrill us or entertain us, whether on the screen or in the pages of a book, or told to each other: unless something goes wrong, you don’t have a story. In every quest, the hero or heroine is required to face ordeals and survive perils. Misadventure, screw-ups and pratfalls are the stuff of comedy.
I want to add this statement to the list of rules for navigating by synchronicity that I first published in The Three “Only” Things. It is very helpful to keep it in mind when things go wrong on the roads of life. Often, of course, we complain like heck when our plans go awry and may even lose our sense of humor, which is a terrible thing to be missing. At such moments, I find I am sometimes able to cruise through because a signal flashes in my mind: STORY ALERT.
Here’s an example from my recent visit to Lithuania.
I led a workshop last weekend near the medieval town of Kernave. Our hotel on the lake was charming, but there was a slight problem. Without telling my coordinator, the hotel had double-booked events. A wedding reception was being held on Saturday in the same building as my workshop. While we were drumming and dreaming upstairs, recorded music, noisy toasts and general hoopla was rising our way from the wedding party. We were told all of this would be over by Sunday, and I drummed hard enough to push the wedding noise far from our thoughts as we made group journeys to explore ancient mysteries of the land and find pathways to personal and ancestral healing.
Surprise: on Sunday an even larger wedding party descended on the hotel. Fortunately the sun was shining for much of the day, allowing my group to go up on the sites of the old hill forts around Kernave and dream with the eagle and the wolf and the medieval Merlin of the Baltic who came from here in a circle on the grass, with sunlight on our faces and wind in our hair. But we needed to be inside for much of the afternoon to practice the core techniques of Active Dreaming.
I returned from the afternoon break to find a wedding procession advancing towards the door of the building where we were having our workshop. There was no way to get round the wedding party. My only way to get back into our space was to join the wedding procession. I called to the dreamers watching from the terrace, “Wave!”
Then, for the first time ever, I entered a workshop space to the strains of Here Comes the Bride.
I know, I know, it’s funny when told as a story. The point is to remember, when things go wrong, that a story may be brewing.