Five years ago, I received a powerful vision and message. I was staying with a friend at a cozy house in the forest in Santa Cruz. This is Part I of the story, as I wrote it for myself back then.
The visit from the wisdom being last night was an extraordinary visitation. The first part of it was the dreaming of the drums. As I lay with my ear on my pillow, the sound of Lakota drumming and singing grew into an overwhelming roar, at the same time, filling and surrounding the space inside my head.
I pulled with the only strength I could find to drag myself out of that dream space, trying to slap my hand on the floor to get my sleeping friend’s attention. I may have called out or what passes for calling out when you are in REM paralysis. When I woke from that portion of the visitation, I asked myself why the drums of the Native Americans of the plains? It’s not a heritage I feel connected to, it’s not a spiritual tradition that calls to me. My roots call my spiritual yearning to a different part of the planet. If I were to conjure my version of a spirit visit, it would have Celtic sound and flavor.
I had no answer for this. Certainly, the power of the Lakota drumming and singing has always been moving for me. I have listened with a sense of awe and appreciation whenever I’ve witnessed it. Still, it seemed like such unlikely dream terrain for me.
An Unexpected Visitor
After going to sleep again, I was visited by a Native American man, an elder, seemingly Lakota. No gray hair, but the energy he held felt rich with calm, peaceful wisdom. He was sitting in front of me. The walls of the house had faded away and we were surrounded by trees and a meadow. He wore blue jeans and a button-down long sleeve shirt, something like an ordinary red and blue plaid. His face was lined but not with excessive age. His eyes were dark, calm, alive, and alight with depth. He leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees, hands lightly clasped in front of him. He asked me in a voice that I almost couldn’t hear, ‘Are you happy?’
I had to watch the shape of his lips as they formed the words to take in what it was he was saying. My reply was instantaneous. ‘No!’ Accompanied by a slightly dismissive and derisive laugh, as if to say, ‘Are you kidding? Who’d be happy with this life?!’
My conscious mind immediately thought, ‘how ungrateful you are to say that out loud to this being.’ I think I was afraid of receiving some kind of punishment for my ingratitude and disrespect.
He spoke to me, again. He said three things, three statements. Again, I couldn’t quite hear the words. I had to stare intently and study how his lips were moving in order to receive his message.
Then, he stood up and walked across the room toward a spot just beyond where my head had been on my pillow. As he moved through the space, his clothes changed becoming a white shirt and pants, light and flowing. I had to turn my head to see what came next. I swiveled around in time to see a bird rise up from where he stood. He had transformed into a bird of iridescent white with a reddish hue. It was the shape of a sparrow but slightly larger and longer. When the body and wings moved, a reddish ombré flowed in a wavelike motion over a whitish iridescent base. This bird then transformed into a fully white bird, something like an egret, and flew off to the north.
I looked back to see the man standing at the place from where the bird had emerged. He then resumed walking out under a vine and flowered-covered trellis, now singing with great power and strength.
I found myself, struggling to emerge from my dream state, singing with him.
The First Message
The next morning, I share my dream experiences with my friend and she tells me that she had heard me.
At first, when I tried to say the 3 statements, I could find no words. The space where they ought to have been felt empty and echoed a bit. Then, it came to me later that morning that the first message was, “Walk only in your own footsteps.“
This was a powerful, new awareness for me, this first message: Walk only in your own footsteps. It sounds so simple and obvious but for me, it felt like a thunderbolt.
At first, it seemed counterintuitive to me. The common idea that we place our feet in the footsteps of the person in front of us has been a strong influence in my life. It told me that it would be easier, take less work, and be safer. It had always made sense to follow in the footsteps of others who’ve come before me so I could hide just enough. It resonated with the feeling that I had been impersonating the person others expected me to be.
Since that night, the idea that to be my authentic self means to walk only in my own footsteps has been a strong call. It feels like the opposite of how I had been walking in my life up until then. Walking only in my own footsteps points to the idea that I have a unique path, not necessarily predetermined, but kept open just for me.
If I don’t walk it no one else will.