Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Failed Artist

The Dream: I'm with my mother and two friends. We start to head up to my walk-up apartment. As we are climbing the stairs I say to my mother, “I guess you're wondering why I always live in a 5th floor walk-up?” I mean this as a joke on the effort the stairs require, but it's not actually a negative to me. “Not at all,” says my mother. “It's because you are a failed artist.”

I'm stung by this, but don't feel I can deny the truth of it. I would have preferred she acknowledge the accomplishment of what I've achieved—a certain level of skill, undeniably--than to focus on my utter lack of commercial success. Then too, I don't think commercial success is what I'm after. Nevertheless, I see the career building strategies of a successful artist friend in a new light. It least she isn't seen as a failure.

Mother collapses onto the floor, and I'm afraid the effort of climbing the stairs has given her a heart attack. I bend over her, very concerned, but not ready to call the paramedics: her color looks good and I think she'll snap out of it. I feel, once the crisis has past, that I owe my friends an explanation. “I've been through this so many times before,” I say.

My friends give me gifts. One is a fused glass piece, a tube sprouting a plant. It's roots are in the tube; an exotic flower drapes out.

Interpretation: Ha! My conundrum in a nutshell: one part of me, the internalized critical mother, wants to know why I'm not a commercial success. In our culture money equals value, and if you can't show a profit you and your product must be worthless. Another part, the one that is happy to live on a higher level and doesn't mind the difficulty that entails, sees my art making as a spiritual practice and has no interest in monetizing it, only wants a bit of recognition for what she's accomplished. My critical mother collapses from the effort of the ascent, but I know she'll revive. After all, I've been through this many times.

The friends, protectors of my calling, give me a work of art: nature transformed into a glass object that could last--or might just as easily break.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Unmade Bed

The Dream: I have rested on a bed in a place that is like a hotel room except that it has no walls. I've rumpled the bedspread, and although I haven't been under it (between the sheets), I have nevertheless degraded the bed from its pristine state. I am ready to move on, but feel guilty about leaving the bed unfixed. "Is it my responsibility to fix it?" I wonder. Would anyone know I messed it up if I don't? Should I have paid for my rest?

There's an old saying, “You've made your bed and now you must lie in it,” meaning you've created an unpleasant or difficult situation and now you must live with it. In this dream I seem to be reversing this: I've lain in the bed, but refuse to make it. I move on, leaving the bed unmade and feeling guilty about it—nevertheless, I'm unwilling to take on fixing the situation. The dream points out that straightening this out would be a simple enough task.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Knitting Project

Most often dreams deal with our day to day challenges.
The Dream: I'm in a Victorian-style knitting shop. Some lovely things are on display, but they are difficult to locate. It's a specialty store, with many customers and its merchandise arranged in a way I can't fathom. I hadn't planned on knitting—wasn't interested in a new project—but after seeing one of the items I decide to make it. It is a sleeveless sweater with an intricate knitted pattern on the front. I start to look for the materials I'll need, finding them after a long search. The proprietor is hopping around between clients, not providing much help.

I make a selection. As I'm leaving with my purchase I have a moment of agitation thinking the directions were not included, but my daughter assures me that they were.

Interpretation: I had this dream when I started to help my daughter plan her wedding. The Victorian style of the shop echoes the Victorian aspect of the wedding ritual that knits two people together in a beautiful way, but the planning process can be fraught--I'll be sweat(er)ing indeed as I deal with the intricacies.  Will we be able to find what we want: the right venue, the right caterer, the right dress? I am not sure I have what I'll need to pull this off, but my daughter tells me all will be okay.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Della's Dress

The Dream: I see an old dress belonging to my friend Della. It's gray, with bat wing sleeves and a pencil thin slim skirt. The only decoration is across the shoulders and front. The material is a heavy weight, good quality silk. It's a beautiful dress, but dated; it has a built-in bra that gives it a stiff shape in the breast area.

Interpretation: Here's something I find beautiful that's no longer relevant (in style), just like the traditional femininity of my youth. The dress' stiffness in the breast area suggests that the downside of this traditional way of being was its rigidity: its insistence on proper form was somewhat hard hearted. This way of being no longer works; women, and society, are more flexible now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pomona is Stepped On

The Dream: Someone has changed Pomona, one of my paintings that depicts the goddess of the fruits of the orchard. Five different shoes have been superimposed in the area between her navel and her breasts in a circular, asymmetrical arrangement. Pomona herself has been “pushed back;” blurred until she's a ghost of her former self, and I almost can't make out who she is. In fact, she takes on the name of another goddess from a different painting: Taera, who represents the earth.

We can't see the goddess clearly, but we do clearly see the shoes! I begin to like this alternative rendition of the painting; I think it's more contemporary and mysterious.

Clark and I go down a very steep sand dune to to the sea, and I'm not sure I'll be able  to climb back up. Clark tells me this is the “easy” way. On an adjoining sand dune I see a large menagerie of animals: emu, wolf, raccoon, and many others, charging up the hill. Nature has been restored, and I feel that the animals will not threaten us if they are given their own space.

Interpretation: Pomona is the goddess who represents nature's bounty, and Taera represents the earth. Both the earth and its bounty have been stepped on and obscured by our consumerist culture. I am so used to this that I can no longer see the goddesses who represent our crucial relationship with the environment. I have come to like and accept things the way they are.

I get to the sea (the unconscious) where I see things as they should be. The animals have an uphill battle, but they prevail and nature is restored. The dream tells me that it is important to honor the processes of the planet and get our priorities in order. Only then can we live in harmony with nature (the animals).

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Struggling Against the Current

The Dream: I'm in a small boat by myself on very rough water, but near a seaside resort. I work to get back to to this inviting shore, but am swept along the coast to a different spot. I look for a place to put the boat back in so I can try again. I think that a particular spot will work once I get past the breakers, but Clark points out the breakers are caused by submerged rocks. I see my plan won't work and walk along the shore, pulling my boat, looking for a safe place in put in, although I know even if I'm successful it will be very difficult, with the wind and current against me, to get back to the sunny shore.

Interpretation: The sunny shore represents a time of protected childhood with loving parents, a time when they were alive. The playful resort shore is a reminder of happy family times playing in the surf with my brother and mother nearby. I can 't go back; I'm struggling to get there but it's impossible. I'm also struggling against the tide of my own overwhelming emotions in the face of the reality of this loss, and the ultimate loss of all.

I face these feelings in the dream, and the practical part of me, my Animus in the form of Clark, discourages my attempt to return to the past by pointing out that it won't work. The dream tells me to accept the reality I can't change.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Keeping Up Appearances

The Dream:
Women are desperately working to keep themselves looking good. At some point I say, “Can't we judge people on some value other than their looks?”

This dream was inspired by a spa date, a TV program about labeling people, and a friend's FB post that defined success in a more humanistic, less materialistic way. And oh--not to mention an approaching birthday . . . .

Sunday, February 2, 2014


The Dream: My husband Clark is sitting on a cushy chair with a woman on his lap. They are clearly lovers. Clark doesn't mind that I see this, and indeed feels I should accept the situation. I think I would like to try to see, objectively, what this woman is like; so I observe. She seems young and light hearted. At one point a little boy, about 4, appears. He has blond curly hair and looks angelic. He is asleep, inert, lying on the floor to the left of the seated couple. She goes over to him and attends to him in a sweet, maternal way. I like this woman, but I don't like the situation.

I begin to inwardly steam over what I see as Clark's betrayal. When did he have time time to get involved with another woman?! We're almost always together. I think that I'll tell him he has to choose; he can't have us both as he seems to believe. But then I realize that even if he relinquishes this particular woman my trust in him has been destroyed, and things will never be the same again. I awaken, upset as from a nightmare, and very relieved it was a dream.

Interpretation: This dream was triggered by the news that a friend's husband is involved with someone else. The dream touches on my own residual oedipal conflict, the clue being that the other woman is a sweet maternal person whom I like, but it deals with something else as well. I had been reading about Jung's personal life and was disappointed to discover that he apparently felt that the women in his life should tolerate the same arrangement the dream portrays. This expectation strikes me as self-serving, cruel, insensitive and exploitative; it makes me angry on behalf of both Mrs. Jung and Toni Wolff. At a personal level I have to reconcile the fact that someone whose intellect and insight I so thoroughly admire, a person to whom my conception of the mind is “married,” can behave in a way I find thoroughly callous.

Somehow these people worked it out: perhaps the women felt that the man's greatness created an entitlement. Living in an era that offered no autonomy to women, they were victims of their historical moment and needed Jung in order to fulfill their own potential: reflected greatness (the golden haired boy) might have struck them as better than no greatness at all.