Years ago, late afternoon, as a college freshman, I fell asleep on the luxurious bunk bed with the 2.5 inch mattress provided to us. It was secured with bolts to a lovely, pale green cinder block wall. When I awoke it was almost dark, the time of day I’d come to dread since being on my own.
As I emerged, groggy and somewhat disoriented from sleep, I became aware of a pressure on my chest. I began to panic and raced through every conceivable thing that could possibly be alive and on top of me. The logic of the moment said it could only be a large, heavy snake! As I flung it off of me and started to hit the floor running I realized that it was my arm, not a huge viper.
My knuckles hit the wall at maximum velocity and sent shock waves through me. My arm had just been asleep, and now it hurt like hell.
Colin Wilson, British philosopher and novelist, likens what happened to my arm that day to what we do as humans with our subconscious mind. We go to sleep to the subconscious. Over our lifetime we become socialized and increasingly lose touch with those realms other than the day-to-day repetition of obligations and commitments.
Once we break with the easy access that young children tend to have to the world of the unconscious and fantasy, we go numb to it. It’s lost to us as surely as a sleeping limb.
As we lose access to it, we lose a sense of meaning. Once we begin living like there is no subconscious realm, nothing other than right here and right now, our ability to connect to it atrophies. Wilson says we can find it again if we restore circulation between the subconscious and the “flow of life.”
Our intuition tells us there is something on the other side of the veil, but we’ve forgotten what it is or how to connect to it. It is the task of the hero’s journey, and that includes each of us, to seek and enable this connection and “to become active participants translating meaning into life.” Otherwise we become just another statistic of those who have lost meaning and therefore hope in life.