The Boy Who Would Be King
When did your interest in dreams begin?
It all began with the “boy who would be king”. I was a freshman at City University in New
York, and volunteering at Willowbrook State School, an institution for severely physical and
mentally disabled children. This was shortly after Geraldo Rivera’s expose on the school revealed the truth about its deplorable conditions. While there is much to say about the squalor
these poor children had to live in, this story is about one special child.
I never did know his name, but came to know something unique about him. Each day he
would languish in this back ward, staring into space, into the crevices of the brick wall, and for
all intents and purposes, was lost to this world. Aside from sleeping and eating he spent
virtually every minute of his life in this prison. However each day at 2 in the afternoon, there
opened a crack in his world. This was the time when all the children had a moment of freedom,
and were allowed to go outdoors and play. For many this simply meant shifting their vacuous
stare to the outdoors, and for others, provided a moment to breathe in the fresh air, and for those
who could, would run, somewhere, nowhere, just to run because it was what their bodies needed
Once the doors opened, this king ran with all his might to the garden, picking flowers, which
as was his daily ritual, crafted into a crown which he placed on his head. For those precious
moments his life had changed. His was now a world animated by some spirit, some hope, and
some force which all feared was forever lost. But here in this magical garden, he was crowned
king of his world. Transported to this other world where little boys and girls ran through the fields, picked flowers, maybe even flirted with each other, they tasted something of another life.
I will never forget this experience, this daily crossing of thresholds, this infusion of life into a
world where virtually all hope been extinguished For our little king, this flower garden was his
paradise, his world where he could breathe freely, and even look like other children. Something
profound happened to him though his relationship with the garden and the crown. As though
anointed into a regal position, this symbol was his chariot carrying him on this journey across
worlds, across times. It was this one and only symbol which created the conditions for this
Here I learned not only the power of an image but the power of space and time. This sacred
space of the garden, and this time away from hell, allowed him to find that one image that could
open the door to this other world. Here I learned of the innate energy contained within an
image, of its ability to so dramatically change a life, and how something in us knows how to
create conditions where the divine will manifest.
This is where it all began, a journey now lasting for over 30 years.
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Michael Conforti, Ph.D. is a Jungian Analyst, and is the founder and director of the Assisi Institute. Dr. Conforti's work has resulted not only in a training institute based on his discoveries, but also the development of a new
discipline, Archetypal Pattern Analysis.