Sunday, December 30, 2012

Conversation with My Cousin

The Dream:
Cousin Sandra looks ill. Her drawn and suffering face is topped by a slightly curly, dirty blonde wig. She is saying that she had thought my father was the nice one (our fathers were siblings) until I informed her otherwise. I want to correct this impression I've left her with. I try to tell her that he was, indeed, a wonderful man—but she doesn't hear me. I can't seem to get her attention.

Sandra represents the part of myself that suffered childhood hurts, is still suffering from them, and thinks, therefore, that Dad is not nice. The dream points out, first of all, that these thoughts are not accurate: hair represents thoughts; my Sandra hair is phony (a wig). In addition, its bright color (blonde), symbolizing illumination, is obscured by being “dirty.” In other words, while I could be thinking something that would shed some light on the subject, I'm not. This is my first clue that I need to update my inner child's way of looking at things. My inner adult, the part played by the dream ego, sees life in all its complexity and difficulty, and realizes what a good man Dad was. I want to give this realization to the sick “child” but can't get her attention. In the dream Sandra thinks poorly of her own father. This Sandra part of me is not willing, not yet, to relinquish this opinion of “the father.”

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Storm at Sea

The Dream:
I'm in a boat in the waters surrounding New York City, on the deck with a friend. We are lying under an overhang. A storm is about to come up, and the captain goes about handing out large rain parkas. He only has three; I reach out a little aggressively to claim one that he seems very willing to give me. Then I realize my friend and I are protected by an overhanging interior cabin, and I refuse the parka saying, “We have some protection. Others need this more than we do.”

The storm is furious, with slanting rain and rough, choppy seas. The surrounding area is gray with lines of rain sheeting across; some hits us because of its angle.

Interpretation: The emergence of a lot of unconscious material—grief, loss, anger—creates a psychic storm. I realize I don't need what the captain (my inner controller) is offering; instead I get strength from refusing to to be park(a)ed: stasis is not the way to move forward. The interior cabin represents the inner strength and stability that I rely upon to protect me in this storm. Nevertheless, parts of my psyche are getting the brunt of it. I (my normal sense of self) get splattered.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Getting to the Root of Things

The Dream: I look in the mirror and see that my hair is growing in very dark brown. About two-thirds is its current color, a sun-streaked dark blonde, and the third near the roots is a rich and shiny dark brown. I am surprised it isn't gray, although I do notice a few gray hairs—silver and shiny—mixed in. I try to decide if I should color it my customary blonde or let it grow in brown. I like it, but I wonder if a rich brown color will look phony on someone my age. I show it to the rest of the family to get their reaction.

Interpretation: I look at myself and see that something new and rich is pushing out of my head: I have a new way of thinking. It is flecked with experience (gray), but even this is shiny and exciting (silver). It will take a while for this transformation to take place: it's only one-third complete. Should I go forward? Or am I past it (too old for this)? What will my family think?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Aren't They Grand?

The Dream:
I observe grandparents very excited about their grandchildren. I think it must be something you have to experience to understand.

Interpretation: The night before I had heard a politician speak ecstatically about his new daughter, and I felt there was something phony about it. It was as if he were trying to create a feeling of commonality with his listeners; aren't we all alike, us doting parents? My dream tells me I wasn't able to accept his version of reality on his say so; first I would need to experience it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Self Defense

The Dream: I am leaving my apartment building at 61st and 1st. As I exit I want to lock the outside door, but I don't have the key. A slightly built young man with close cropped blond hair is standing uncomfortably close. I'm not too concerned about the missing key because the door is self-locking, but I do wonder how I'll get in later, and whether my unlocked apartment is safe.

As I exit the man shows no sign of leaving but comes toward me in a threatening manner. I go across the street, toward total darkness. He starts to follow and I threaten him with a pair of kitchen scissors. Even as I threaten him, trying to drive him off, I question whether or not I could actually stab him. I'm not sure my posturing is convincing. I awaken in fear.

Interpretation: Dreams are generally triggered by a recent event. At a dinner party the night before Hilda, a woman from Germany, told the story her mother's teaching her to carry scissors as a defensive weapon. At 17 Hilda had the opportunity to test their effectiveness: she saw a man attacking a woman and used the scissors to drive him off. The story and the storyteller provided the raw material for a dream that weaves these influences into my personal issues.

The setting of the dream tells me that the conflict goes way back: I lived at 61st and 1st many years ago. I can't lock the door on this, even though I'd like to. (I don't have the key.) The fact that this door is “self” locking says two things about my dilemma: that it limits the full expression of who I am, and that I'm the one responsible for my own limitation. The dilemma is subtle: I am threatened by being locked out (denied) my authentic self—but equally threatened by being open, by leaving the place where I feel safe (my apartment) unlocked.

The German lady telling the story activates my familiar inner Nazi (my rigid, totalitarian part) who, in the form of the young man with close cropped blond hair, frightens me here. I'm pleased that he is now “slight” (diminished) but he still scares me. To get away from him I retreat into total darkness. (I'm sure in the dark about this problem!) It is probably a good sign that I threaten him and attempt to drive him off, even if I haven't quite convinced myself that I'm capable of getting rid of him.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Dangerous Illumination

The Dream: An old woman sits on a park bench with me; a younger woman sits behind us. An older child plays nearby; a baby lies in a pram with a hood the length of its carriage. The older woman speaks, sotto voce, about things the children shouldn't hear. The “nanny” behind us is alarmed that the children will hear. I look inside the tunnel created by the pram's hood and I see the baby: ugly, very ugly, its red face scrunched up in a yowl.

The older woman is murdered. The scene switches to a prequel. The older woman, the nanny, and I run into each other in a general store. They have a large stream of children with them, ranging in age from pram age to about 11. They are lined up in the order of their ages. I understand that this scene (of the dream) will help me determine who murdered the old woman.

Interpretation: This dream occurred on my mother's birthday, and the older woman in the dream allows me to reflect on her loss as I wonder: who killed her?

What is it we don't want our inner child to know, as we whisper sotto voce, if not the grim reality of our own inevitable death? Of course the baby howls—as loudly as he can—to drown out this realization. He becomes ugly from the effort. Is this what makes humans so ugly to each other? Would we behave the way we do—so grasping—if we accepted our limited time here? Death is the most basic “fact of life.” Of course it can't be discussed in front of the children who, by succeeding their parents, appear to have killed them, leaving the children with a guilt they can't acknowledge or eradicate. Or is the guilt from the unacknowledged joy of being free of them at last? Is that the murderer we can't discover?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Guest Dreamer: Sticky Ball Returns

Each of us has our own set of personal symbols, and the work of understanding your dreams lies in  carefully excavating them.

The Dream: I am walking up narrow wooden steps in a house. Low ceilings, pitch black except for small amount of light illuminating from either a flashlight I have in my hand or perhaps someone walking behind me with some light. It feels like one of those old homes you might find back east - narrow, dark stairs, tiny rooms. Then I'm in a bed. My right hand is in front of me and a rubber-like sphere is attached to my hand like it's sticky and stuck on me. It is still dark except for some reflected light on the ball (coming from a waning moon outside I think) so it looks navy bluish and the size of a baseball. I keep trying to disengage the ball from my hand by pushing it away but the harder I push the faster it comes back and sticks to my hand (as if attached by an invisible string). I am getting annoyed and frustrated.

Carla's thoughts:
I don't know Maria, or anything about her life: I hope she will work through her dream, looking at its symbols in terms of what's going on in waking life. To get her started, and to suggest a way of going about the process, I'll write about her dream as if it were my own. Dreams have many possible meanings, so whatever someone else says about your dream is only accurate if it rings true for you.

For me, the narrow wooden steps stand for something in my life that is unbending, perhaps lacking feeling (wooden); something that constricts or limits me (narrow); and something that will take some effort to surmount (like a flight of steps). The low ceiling, the darkness, and the tiny rooms reinforce the idea that something is oppressing me. A home, being the place where I live, stands for me, and the characteristics of my dream home tell me that I'm not in a good place at the moment. The light is an encouraging symbol, however, telling me that I am capable of shining some light on what's bothering me and that the answer might come to me quickly, intuitively, in a flash.That the light might be held by someone else, walking behind me,  hints that there may be a helpful person I've overlooked.

The bed, being a place where intimacy occurs, symbolizes something that I'm very close to, for example, a relationship or my work. I'm in a sticky situation that's making me blue (sad), like the sticky ball in my hand. The moon is waning; romance (or the excitement of the job) has diminished, but isn't completely gone. My situation has strings attached; these might be the source of my frustration. My dream is telling me to shine some light (rationally evaluate) what's going on and then figure out what to do about the sticky situation.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stealing Fire

The Dream:
In a large open city square a woman is selling firewood; I need some for the poor. I know it's wrong to steal, but I see no other way of getting what is so desperately required. I have a small drawstring bag with me, and I surreptitiously fill it, then disappear. I've hidden my stolen property so I can blend in on city streets. I have a nagging guilty feeling that I will be pursued.

In time I come to a very beautiful and elaborate wrought-iron gate, the outer entry to a church. I would like to pray, so I go to a door in the gate and, finding it ajar, go in. The church interior is of warm sienna/golden ochre toned wood. Under high vaulted ceilings many priests and altar boys are everywhere, in constant motion. I look for a spot for quiet contemplation but don't see one. Two young acolytes rough house. Does their play have sexual overtones? I think this is not what I'm looking for and I leave.

I am lost. I need to get back to mid-town but have no sense of direction. I see a street sign that tells me I'm at 217th Street and wonder how I got here. I don't know whether I should ask someone for directions or use the street signs to figure out which way I'm going.

Interpretation: This dream reminds me of the myth of stealing fire from the gods. As in that story, I want to bring the fire to others. I go too far (217th Street!), get lost, and along the way become disillusioned with what I see of the traditional path to god (the church). In this dream the church is so relentlessly masculine that even its sexuality is directed toward men. Is there anything for a woman here? The dream tells me to acknowledge, rather than steal from, the source of the firewood: my enlightenment will come from the feminine (the woman who sells the wood), not the masculine (the traditional, male-oriental church). There is a price to be paid for it (the wood is not free), but avoiding payment will not further my spiritual development.