Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unprepared to Go Forward


I try to keep these posts short, but in analyzing this dream I discovered a simple new technique which enabled me to glean some surprising insights. I describe it here in case it might help you mine your dreams for their often elusive meanings. When I start to unravel a dream I usually write down key words and then  list what each one suggests to me. I started this way with this dream and then discovered how to take that technique further.

The Dream:
  1. A nightmare, a relentless anxiety dream, awakened me about 5:30. I am preparing to go to a convention. I had looked up the driving directions—the location was in Napa—and knew the drive would take 20 minutes. It is 9:00 am; the meeting convenes at 10:00. This convention is in some way important to my career, and I need to make a good impression. I realize I can’t find the directions, which I was sure I had put in my purse.
  2.  Endlessly tedious and frustrating efforts to recreate the directions ensue. Someone like my mother tries to show me the directions on a map, but I can’t understand. I look at the map and am overwhelmed by my own anxiety to the point that the map is incomprehensible. Someone like my brother Greg--but also like neighbor Glen--has written out directions. I can’t read his handwriting, and it seems he has added superfluous stuff. I don’t think I can remember what he’s written or manage to read the directions while driving.
  3. I go to look for my computer so I can get a new Google map. It’s upstairs. As I try to go upstairs, the staircase stops before the landing. I need to grab onto the landing railing and heave myself up. At first I thought it would be impossible, and I was scared. But as I did it, it was easier than I had expected.
  4. But I don’t find my computer. Greg/Glen offers me his, but I don’t understand how to use it. I also realize we don’t have the exact address of the convention’s location. Mother seems to think if I get to Napa I can wing it from there. I don’t agree. I envision myself aimlessly driving around trying to find the convention center.
  5. Time is slipping away. It’s 9:30—I could still make it. I try on a hooded coat with a karakul fur trim. I decide the coat would look better without the hood and take the time to remove it. The hood is attached with large hinged silver spikes through grommets.
  6. I look through my purse again for the address and directions. It is my black purse. It has many compartments. I am sure I put the directions in one of them, and turn everything inside out looking. It is now 9:50 and I realize there’s no way I can make it on time. In turning out my purse I come across a Ziploc bag filled with toiletries and realize I’ve neglected to pack any. I try to throw a few things together. I have the urge to defecate; this will slow me down even more. At last I awaken, greatly relieved it was a dream.
Interpretation: The dream occurred the night before my birthday. This event brought up the inevitable march of time; I felt the dream was an expression of my anxiety about death. I decided to look more deeply to see what else I might discover. The numbers refer to the paragraph numbers of the dream.

1 Convention—coming together. Is my unconscious trying to portray (or convey) the concept that death is not an end? The metaphor of a convention is interesting—the place where we meet. Will I meet again those whom I’ve lost? 
Career—For some reason I decided to look this word up in the dictionary. That action led me to a new way of working with the language of dreams. I discovered that even a very simple word—a word whose meaning we all know—can reveal some compelling alternate possibilities. The word career has a meaning of which I was unaware, and the appropriateness of this alternate meaning began to make me a believer in the revelatory power of dreams. These are some of its dictionary meanings; the ones I’ve cited here come before the one we most commonly associate with the word:
  • Originally a racing course;
  • hence a swift course, as of the sun through the sky; hence
  • full speed
  • one’s progress through life
    These meanings shed new light on the meaning of the dream.
Convention—again. Having been surprised by the alternate meaning of the word career I decided to think some more about the meaning of the word convention. Of course it immediately occurred to me that the word also means "general agreement on the usages and practices of social life," i.e., a conventional point of view.
Napa—to nap, to sleep. Death and sleep are often metaphorically linked.
I need to make a good impression Here’s another nub of my anxiety, again revealed by looking at the alternate meanings of the word impression. “A mark, imprint, etc. made by physical pressure.” I fear that time is running out and I must make my mark before it’s too late.
I can’t find the directions, which I’ve put in my purse. The two threads continue. On the one hand, the dream reveals enormous avoidance and resistance to the idea of my own death. On the other hand, once I’ve looked up purse and discovered its derivation (from the Greek byrsa, a skin, hide) I realize the directions are under my skin: in me. And the double pun is wonderful: I’m hiding from what’s under my skin. On the more positive front, in terms of my life’s work, the message is also clear. My direction is within me.

2 My mother, a guide here, died in 2003.
Map—a literal interpretation of reality. Something mapped out, planned. A map shows the path; the way.
I’m being shown the way, but my anxiety prevents me from seeing it.
Glen and Greg—Both are close to me. One is my brother, the other a neighbor. So there’s an indication of a physical closeness (the neighbor) and an emotional closeness (the brother).

3 I am looking for my computer, which is upstairs. I see this as an attempt on my part to retreat to the more comfortable sphere of the intellect. But this presents a problem: Something illogical occurs and I must surmount the difficulty in a non-intellectual way: by heaving myself across a difficult barrier.
Landing—besides being a level area between stairs, landing can also mean “the act of coming to shore.” I escape the water of the unconscious and heave myself back to the safety of the intellect.
Heave—"to raise or lift, especially with effort.”
Heave to—(nautical usage) “to stop forward movement.”

4 Trying to solve the problem intellectually isn’t working. My guides want me to trust my intuition. I’m not comfortable with that.

5 Time is slipping away. Indeed!
The enigma of the hooded coat. Some alternate meanings of the word hood: (Derivation: AS: order, condition, quality, rank, appearance by which known).
  • State, quality, condition, as in childhood
  • Whole group of, as in priesthood
Coat: alternate meanings:
  • A natural outer covering of an animal (cf. purse, earlier) as of skin, fur wool, etc.
  • Obsolete meaning: customary garb showing one’s position, class, etc. (cf. hood, above)
Karakul—loosely curled fur made from the hide of the karakul’s new born lambs.
Large hinged silver spikes—Some crucifixion imagery here: the “lamb” of God; spikes
Grommet—back to the sea imagery again.
  • A ring of rope or metal used to fasten the edge of a sail to its stay, hold an oar in place, etc.
  • A metal eyelet
6 The black purse. Black hearse. Looking under my skin into the inevitable blackness of death.
Ziploc Looking into the many compartments under my skin I find something that is zipped and locked.
Toiletries are grooming products. Grooming is caring for the “skin.” I haven’t packed any of these products that care for the skin. I’m not ready.
Urge to defecate: I’m scared shitless!

4 comments:

Tasha said...

Fantastic write up; really enjoyed this one (especially the punch line)

Carla Young said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Tasha!

Anonymous said...

I really like the way you looked up the words in the dictionary - I had done that with "convention" prior to reading you went back to look it up. So, to continue with what you started, I looked up "Napa" and was very surprised to learn that it's possibly from a "Southern Patwin" word meaning "homeland". I believe we all yearn to "home" and one way to return home is through death where we return to where we began. Napa is also a Chinese cabbage or celery cabbage, which reminds me of your garden dreams. So, there are times when a methodical look at the metaphorical meanings of the words we take for granted is so important in gaining the wisdom in our dreams. They are the ones with the global (or whole brain, collective unconscious) view! Thanks for taking the time to post all of this!

Carla Young said...

Thank you for posting those additional insights! I followed my own advice this morning, looking up the word "cataract" which appeared in a dream a couple of nights ago. I was very surprised by its first two meanings. I had been unaware of them, but they made made a lot of sense in terms of the dream. I'll post that one tomorrow.

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