Ancient Remembering

Oct 30, 2018


Lately, a few well-meaning and enthusiastic individuals have asked me about my relationship to play.


Generally, questions like this cause me to assume that the person asking them has unicorn-like qualities,

and is probably having a lot more fun than I am.


The question of play, in recent years,

has either sent me kicking and screaming in the opposite direction


at the very least,

caused me to stare quizzically off into the middle distance.


I mean, of course, I have two kids, so I guess I play all the time,


but it’s more like being dressed in bedsheets and led around the house by my daughter while my son plays the ukulele, fully naked,

when I’d just really rather be drinking a cup of tea.


Somewhere along the way, I suppose I’ve become a bona fide adult.


But in an online program I participated in recently, I was asked about play:  “what playful, joyful things haven’t you done in ages?”

Rather than cocking and eyebrow and moving on to the next question,

something pulled me investigate further.


It was hard to think back to my childhood pastimes – I realized that I had fewer memories of everyday life than I thought I did, and that certain times in my young life were much clearer than others.

I started jotting:


writing stories



doing research projects
(truly:  during the summers, I would assign myself several topics upon which to write research projects.  I would spend hours in the library, poring over books and drawing illustrations to accompany my final project)


For a moment, as I wrote these, I was awash in this sense of comfort

that so much of what I enjoy doing as an adult was what I enjoyed doing as a kid

There was a deep sense of self that settled in when I realized that there are parts of me that have always been there, that are undeniably me.


As my memory faltered, I decided to email my mom.

“Hi mom.  This is a bit of a weird question.  But I’ve been asked, as a part of this course I’m doing, to remember how I used to play as a kid.  I’m wondering what you remember?”


As I pressed send, I remembered the fairies.

I remembered that, as a kid, I always had an imaginary friend – a fairy that would sit on my shoulder, not just for a whimsical spell on a Saturday afternoon, but steadfast, every day, as I walked to and from school and played with my friends and practiced piano.


I have often posited that when feel disconnected from ourselves

after years of being for everyone else, 

(for our culture, our employers, our lovers, our children, our communities)

that we must engage in a sort of

ancient remembering

in order to reconnect with who we are again.


Sometimes, that ancient remembering takes us into our ancestry, or our matrilineage,

but most readily,

it can take us back to the person we were before we realized the expectations the world had of us

when we were unabashed and unapologetic

when we spoke what was on our minds, and were present to our most basic needs and wants, and made it our business to get those needs and wants met

back to when we played.


I’m starting to think about imaginary friends again.


I’m wondering if I can summon the whimsy to whisper my thoughts

fears, and dreamings

to an ephemeral being on my shoulder.

Wondering what it might be like to be witnessed in that way

to witness myself in that way

to stretch the bounds of my imagination.

Call it play, sure.

It’s at least that.

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!