It was very late at night and I couldn’t fall asleep. When I left the tent to wander around a bit, I met Starry Song – the shaman was given this name because of his skill of sharing the native knowledge through stories, in chant or not – smoking his distinctive rock-bowl pipe. I asked his permission to sit by his side, saying that I was distressed by the difficulty I had in falling asleep. He looked at me with his self-possessed way, took a long puff on his pipe, and said: “You must have a serious conversation with the Dream Trader”. Of course I did not understand what he was talking about, and asked him to explain. “Do you know why Indians paint their faces when they attend a ceremony, or, in the past, when they went to war? His question made things even more confusing in my mind. When I said I did not, he explained: “The paintings are not made at random nor have aesthetic purposes. Their colors and shapes reveal the magic of each one.” Magic? I wanted to know what he meant by that. “All of us, no exceptions made, have our gifts and talents that we should use with creativity. It is your magic that makes you special. It can be expressed in different ways, from the gift of wisdom through the skills of teaching, to the compassion in sheltering the needy, to the truth to sow justice, to the courage to give security, to sensitivity to help feelings flourish. There are countless gifts and talents that manifest themselves in the core of each person, reflecting the way he or she will Walk in Beauty, sowing good fruits wherever they go. It is the sword of the warrior, as the ancestors would say, metaphorically. This must be applied in your job or profession, as when the warrior does not use the sword, it gets rusty and he or she becomes bitter”.
I told him his words were nice and wise, but I did not understand how they related to my sleepless nights. “Oftentimes we sell our dreams to the Trader”. I said I was lost even more, now. He looked deep into my eyes, and said: “Often we give up on our dreams, where our gifts and talents dwell in favor of what we mistakenly call objectivity or pragmatism. For the need to make ends meet, ambition or fear, rather than engaging in a profession through which our dreams would come true, we offer them to the Trader in exchange of a money-making job that will make our life more comfortable more quickly. At first, money will give you a good feeling, and will make you forget your dreams; it may even lead you to think dreaming is for children. Then, you will wear a mask or live like a character, deluding yourself that you will be happy. Do you know why children are so happy? Because they are authentic and believe in their dreams. Do you want to sadden a kid? Steal their best dreams from them”.
Starry Song became silent for a little while, looking at the stars as if asking them the cue for words. He puffed his pipe once again and moved on: “The thing is, dreams never die. At night, when you close your eyes to meet with yourself, your gifts and talents will come and ask you to dance with them, or will remind you that you have abandoned the best you had in you. Then, it is difficult to fall asleep”.
“Your gift is the boat that will help sail the seas of this existence; your talent is the rudder, steering it to the golden wharf of fullness. Therefore, to give them up is to be adrift in the storm and to lose sight of the guiding star”, he explained. “To be able to sleep again you must negotiate with the Trader, so that you have your dreams back”, he concluded.
I became pensive for a while, and told him that I thought I knew some people who might have traded with the Dream Trader. There was this guy who had been a financial-market broker and renounced the money and the hurried life at the Stock Exchange to be a chef in a restaurant of a small countryside village; a doctor who became a plastic artist; an electric-guitar player who abandoned the stage and fame to study law and became a good judge. He interrupted me: “There is no right or wrong. Only the dreams.
I asked him how I could understand this process. “It all starts with you being unhappy about the world, where everything seems wrong. At this point, we tend to become depressed, annoyed, regretful. In fact, the world mirrors the people who dwell in it, and we are part of the tribe of this big planetary village; it lights up or darkens according to the light we have in our eyes. The only way to change our life is to change ourselves, this is the seed of transformation. Just like the snake changes its skin to move on, bigger and stronger, we must abandon what is no longer of use in ourselves to give room to the new that must emerge. This will be reflected in your appearance and behavior. The free expression of all your longings, feelings and ideas with creativity has a strong healing power. Bear in mind that living is an exercise to perfect the self. Therefore, to live is to heal oneself”.
“To transform yourself is essential. To put to use your gifts and talents is to enjoy all the magic that the Great Mystery has offered you. To give that up is to abdicate your power and to renounce the fullest of the self”. I asked the wise man what I should do to restart my process. “You must travel in search of your essence to understand what your actual needs are and to identify your true gifts and talents. We often mistake our magic with our wishes to shine and be acknowledged that derive from insecurity and vanity, seeds of fear. If that happens, the Trader will not negotiate with you, because he will have nothing to deliver”.
I asked him how I would recognize my true magic. “It is on the surface of your skin. It makes your eyes shine, it makes you forget tiredness and work for sheer joy. Even though you must learn techniques to further develop yourself, you will always have the feeling you were born knowing how to do that. You will see your creativity flourish and embellish the life of whomever crosses your path, because your best feelings and thoughts are innate to your new art or trade. You will have no doubt when you are face to face with your magic”.
I asked about the possibility of the Trader refusing to give my dream back. “No one can do everything. We are all subjected to the Unwritten Laws. If, preposterous as it may seem, the Trader refuses to give you back what belongs to you, it is because he doubts your good intentions. In this case, commit yourself to use your magic with dignity, to spread joy to everyone, and wherever you go. Thus, the dream will return to you as powerful as it was when you were a child. Use it to lighten the world!”
Kindly translated by Carlos André Oighenstein.