Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Synthesis

Occasionally a dream echoes the structure of a myth, revealing where we are on our life journey. 

The Dream: I find my way to a mountain-top home, a castle-like structure overlooking the surrounding countryside, hilly terrain like the semiarid northern California coastal range. I’m in a turret, with windows on 3 sides. At first there are no other structures to be seen. Later I see what at first appears to be a brilliantly white spire topping some sort of temple rising above the hills. Then I see a very large building that obscures the temple; it looks like the scaffolding of a large office building but has a silvery, glowing quality that makes it difficult for me to figure out exactly what I’m seeing. I soon realize that my confusion was created by a cloud behind the scaffolding. It moves off to the left and the bare bones of a building under construction are revealed.

Back to me in the strange room: I’m in a room to the right of the turret. A crude ladder made of wooden slats, again like a framework or scaffolding, leads to the upper floors. I attempt the climb, initially unafraid, but when I get to a broken slat I recall that I’m afraid of heights, and I find I can’t go on. I back down the ladder.

I see a very gruff Russian man. He is stocky, a little paunchy, and has dark hair surrounding his bald pate. He appears to be a workman; he doesn’t speak. Yet it seems he has alerted the woman in charge, who scampers down the ladder. She is also Russian and approaches me accusingly, suspecting me of espionage. For some reason, when she demands to know my name, I give her the Russian version. Her manner at once changes; she’s gotten the idea that I am of royal lineage. She becomes pleasant, even sycophantic, and no longer wishes to bar me from the ascent. However, my own fear of heights prevents it.  I expect the workman to repair the broken slat, thinking that if here were to do so I could perhaps manage the still scary venture—but he makes no move in that direction.

I see that the gruff, bouncer-type man has a notebook. He has written a story about the woman and illustrated it. I am surprised at the sensitive and beautiful quality of his work; even though he’s left many drawings unfinished his talent is apparent. In some of his drawings the women are headless. “You are very talented,” I tell him. It’s a surprise in someone so apparently brutish. He is no longer mute, but very humble: “You are extremely talented,” he says to me. I wonder how he could possibly know that, since I have none of my work with me. We spend some more time, each of us trying to convince the other of his (her) talent.

Interpretation: My dream group helped me with this one. The dream represents a partial victory in the myth that represents my life, but also tells me I have work to do. My first challenge is getting to this difficult spot. I didn’t record the very earliest sequence of the dream, but it was about the steep path up to the strange castle. What do I see from this outlook? Is it a temple, or is it an office building. Do I pray here or do I work here? What I see from my three-windowed turret symbolizes my state of being, a mental space where work and spirit have melded.

My (spiritual) ascent is stopped by a ladder’s broken rung. The thing in need of repair centers on figures from my youth, the scary Russians who made up my family. My first task is to accept myself; I symbolically do this by owning my Russian identity, and this quickly disarms both of the threshold guardians. The woman changes from a hostile force to a benign one, and I realize the complexity of the man, who until now had seemed only brutish. The man symbolically tells me that the wellspring of creativity isn’t particularly genteel; it’s his earthiness and lack of pretension that gives art its life. The women he depicts are headless; his force is not of the intellect.

Ultimately it’s my own fear that stops me, not the physical limitation of the broken rung. The dream tells me that I mustn’t expect someone else to fix it.

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