The Challenge Scale

The Challenge Scale

I dreamed a weird dream, about a kind of scale with what seemed to be an infinitely endless ‘yardstick’ attached to it, reaching up into the clouds, so that I could not see the end.

The scale was of shiny metal, coppery. In my dream I stood right in front of it, and an urgent call sounded:

Come, enter the Challenge Scale.

Dreams often tend to be strange and I don’t concern myself with them, but this time the image kept lingering. Whenever I strayed from my work for a moment, I would see it in front of me again and I would become aware that I indeed wanted to “step into the Challenge”. But why? What was it? How could I possibly want something if I didn’t know what it was?

Looking back, I can give it a place. My life had changed dramatically right before that dream, without any of my own doing. I had different thoughts, different interests and different reactions to what was happening to me. Not as frequently then, of course, because it had just begun, but now I see very clearly the dividing line between my life before, and after.

Now I could make a whole story out of it, very easily even, but then you might not take it seriously. And yet there is nothing more important than the Challenge Scale.

After the change, at first it seemed as if my life was going smoothly. In fact, a lot of things suddenly arranged themselves. If I was in a library for instance, my hand would spontaneously go to a book I appeared to find very interesting. If I touched a book that didn’t suit me very well, my hand would “tell” me so and withdraw. This didn’t feel like a miracle or anything; it didn’t seem magical at all. I just picked up a book without choosing, and other books I put back for no reason. And again, looking back, I can explain that very well, because apparently I had gotten onto a path that messed  my whole thought life around, shooting holes in it and injecting new possibilities. Sometimes I would suddenly become happy, as if there was another person inside me saying, “Good, that’s the right direction to go”.

The dream was forgotten; I was far too busy with my new life. Now I also came into contact with others, who seemed to be following the same track, but each in his own way. Whereas I had found my life boring and unpleasant in previous years, I was now following an impulse that was nurtured from within by that other in me. It was like walking along a gentle path, lined with hills and trees, with encouragement. As I progressed, other things began to stir in me.

Old voices were summoning me to go back to ‘normal’ again. They came from people around me, but also seemingly from within. They seemed to be nagging. How many voices were speaking inside me? And who were they?

However, I was done with the old life and swept the voices from my path. The only one I would follow was the one that encouraged me to keep going, to always keep going, no matter whatever happened. And things did happen. The soft path became hard and prickly, and obstacles appeared. Sometimes it was almost impossible to get through. Yet I loved my new life so much that I persevered, and when I did, I had the wind in my sails.

Then there was that rock, a hard, high, smooth rock, which I could not avoid. Now I suddenly remembered what I had dreamed. This was the point where I had to risk everything to overcome it. That sounds easier said than done and of course it was. The whole process took years. Of course, it was not a rock lying on a path, but a gigantic bump in my life, and at the same time a deep pit, into which I kept falling and having to get out of only to see that bump in front of me to get over as well. Yet I persisted, mainly because I really couldn’t go back. Also, my confidence in life had been growing so that the great dangers that threatened me, which I did fear, could not keep me from my path in life. Then they gave way and outwardly weakened but inwardly strengthened, I went on. I glowed with hope and progressed with joy.

Somehow I knew I hadn’t really risked everything yet, but I pushed that thought away because I couldn’t know what could come next and fantasising  about it didn’t seem like a good idea. So I went on. Live, and always do what you think you have to do at that particular moment. Two strong influences asserted themselves: the joy of the inner being and the fear of the end of the last thing I had: myself. The awareness of being human and the fear of losing it, the fear of no longer being there. At the same time, I thought that was nonsense, because when you are no longer there, you are not aware of it either.

I thought deeply: how can it be that if you know you are on the right path, know that you are doing what you were born for, fulfilling your greatest life task – because I knew that – that you would then be discarded, so to speak? I thought further: when I started this, I was a completely different person than I am now. Who was I firstly, and who had I become? Initially I was at the wheel, driving from left to right or in circles, without knowing what was actually happening. Now I understood much more about life and looked at it completely differently. At first I tried to avoid all pain and setbacks and now they had taken on a function – they helped me where I could not go on by myself.

Looking back, I saw all that as a long way behind me. The rock and the prickles , the difficulties, had broadened me. I had gained a broad outlook and a totally different attitude to life. To what did I owe that? I thought of that friend within who had guided me and given me confidence. Who was always there when I lay helpless on the ground, and always made me stand up on my own.

Who was life really about, him or me? Or both? Does a human being consist of two people, or does one survive and the other die? It was not clear to me what the relationships were. Or have I grown towards the other in such a way that I can become part of him? The old version of me hadn’t been able to do that, and I still wasn’t sure it was possible. Yet I became less and less afraid, even though I still didn’t know what was hanging over my head.

Everything in the Challenge Scale … THAT was what to expect, went through me. That was what I had entered into and that was how it would go.

Then a fire looms before me. With a calm mind I lay everything I have in the Scale and still not knowing what is coming, I move into the fire. It encompasses me with joy.

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Date: February 25, 2024
Author: Amun (Netherlands)
Photo: Hilma af Klint on Reddit

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