Dreamtime figures into so much of my fiction. I just love dreams, don’t you? I love playing them back and figuring them out and seeing what they’re trying to tell me. I Just Came Here to Dance opens each chapter with a night dream of the main character, each building upon the last until the end.
Because they’re always trying to tell me something. When I don’t get it, they recur and recur and recur, sometimes getting more frightful until I stop and pay attention.
As I was starting my writing career, lo all those years ago, I began having a dream that I was 5-meter tower diving. Now, I wasn’t a diver in real life, but a swimmer. Never could even do a somersault. But there I would find myself, atop the tower, in the finals of the Nationals or Olympics. In the finals!
With the wind whipping and the water oh-so-far down below, there I stood. And about that time I remembered I couldn’t dive. Pure terror!
Now, it didn’t take Freud to decipher that one. Visceral fear of what I was taking on. Although apparently I had the talents, I didn’t know I had them.
Unfortunately for me, this dream persisted it seemed for decades.
Because you know it’s funny, when you remember and write down your dreams, and associate the symbols to what means something to you, you start to see what experiences are significant for you, and those you weren’t paying attention to. And then the next dream will come along, with another piece.
Carl Jung, the noted psychologist, spoke of two orders of dreams—the personal ones and the mythic. You interpret the personal dream as above, but once in a while a dream comes along that is pure myth—it carries the mythic theme, which can help us all.
I somewhat doubt Dr. Jung would categorize this dream he had as mythic, but I would. He dreamt once that he was trudging in total darkness, into a brutal wind, exhausted and disheartened. He carried a candle in one hand, protecting the flame with the other from being extinguished. Now, this was a time in his life when his work was going poorly, he was fighting an uphill battle, spent to the bone.
And when he awakened he knew the meaning. He was to protect the internal/eternal flame as he trudged on. I.e., continue onward in the face of all odds, protecting the flame. Which he did. And of course we know what happened after that—his breakthrough works.
That dream was his own but it has always comforted me in dark times. I always remember it, am soothed by its meaning; it helps me to soldier on, as keeper of the flame.
As Joseph Campbell said, “. . . a dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream. . . . If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.”
I do believe Jung’s was both. But first he had to traverse that dark forest.
Oh, and my diving dream? Decades after it began, I had it again. Only this time, as I stood atop that wind-blown tower, diving in the Olympic finals, I knew I had this. I had the skills, the experience, the preparation. Calmly and quietly, I raised my arms to dive . . .
What do your dreams tell you?