Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dream a little dream with me

I'm fascinated by dreams. Always have been. Probably always will.

The unconscious mind is a vast, mostly unexplored space that often comes to life when we are asleep.

One of the most dramatic, life-changing things for me happened when someone I was seeing in therapy charged me with asking "The Dream Maker" to come and visit me when I was asleep at night.

"Ask her to give you an image of yourself doing what it is you think you are supposed to be doing," she said.

Sounds easy, right? Not so.

Well, first of all, I had to admit that there was something - or someone - known as "The Dream Maker". Well, maybe not 'admit' so much as accept the possibility of the existence of such a being who only exists in an unconscious state of mind. 

Then, I had to get past my sense of the ridiculous in asking this "Dream Maker" to "visit" with me - while I was asleep.

I mean, it sounds positively batty, doesn't it?

Finally, after having the dream, I had to be willing to wake up, write down my dream, and then share my dream with my therapist so together we might be able to interpret the images and symbols and actions in the dream.

It all seemed fairly daunting - when not flat out ridiculous - but I gave it a try.

At first, nothing happened. For weeks, it seemed, nothing happened.

Or, at least, nothing that I remembered or could report.

"Have you ever had a dream that you liked?" my therapist asked. "Or, one that perhaps you're not so fond of but it comes to you anyway?"

Why, yes, I said.

I have had this recurring dream that I am standing on a very tall building. I think it's in New York City but I can't really be sure. At least, I don't see any familiar landmarks, but it must be because that's the city I associate with very tall buildings. It doesn't seem to matter to me in my dream.

I'm standing very close to the edge and I can feel the wind blowing on my face and through my hair. I am not afraid of heights, but I don't especially like them. And yet, in my dreams, I'm without any anxiety or concern or fear.

I don't know what I'm doing there, up so high on that very tall building, but I know that I'm supposed to be there. I'm exactly where I ought to be. Of this, I am quite certain. Nothing else seems to matter.

I look down and I can see people on the sidewalk. They look very tiny, but as I move closer to the edge, I can see some of their faces.

A few people have noticed me, up there on the ledge, and they're talking to each other, pointing up at me, letting other passersby know what they see.

I can hear a murmur of concerned voices. Others are nervously giggling and saying derisive things. I step up to the ledge and stretch out my arms like wings. I hear some of them gasp. I am calm and unconcerned.

Slowly, deliberately, I move forward as the crowd gasps. Someone yells with great alarm, "She's going to jump!"

I wait for just the right moment - the right feel of the wind, the beating of my heart, the lightness of my body - and then, I lean forward as I feel my body leave the ledge and begin to fall into the sky.

I am floating gracefully as the crowd gasps, but as I get nearer to them, I pick up my head, lift my arms just so, and begin to soar upwards. I lean to the left and then to the right, gently swooping and soaring before I begin to return to the ledge.

I circle and circle and circle the crowd, to their gasps of concern and applause of delight. Someone says something about calling the police or an ambulance. Still, I soar and swoop and fly.

And then, my dream ends.

I've had this dream many times. Sometimes, I ask the Dream Maker for it to return. I know it is an anxiety dream. Risk-takers often get them. Well, not in this exact form, but the themes are there. I suspect it's one way risk-takers assure ourselves that we're going to be okay.

It's also quite grandiose, isn't it? I don't know how to take a risk without someone criticizing that you've over-stepped your bounds, or that you've got a 'big ego', or that you're selfish in not being concerned about others who care about you and your safety.

And, it's admittedly, unashamedly narcissistic. Then again, all dreams are. Jung said that we are every person in our dreams, and every person in our dreams represents a part of us.

I grew up hearing Cinderella sing, "A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep." Like all little girls, we were carefully taught to dream for our Prince Charming to come and sweep us off our feet and carry us back to the Castle where we would live "happily ever after".

What we learned is that "happily ever after" is a crock. And, we learned that you can't live someone else's dream, much less someone else's idea of what a dream is for you.

What I've also learned is that, if you can dream it or imagine it, you have a better chance of making it happen. In many cases, we do create our own reality - through our dreams.

Indeed, what I've learned is that, if you can see yourself doing something and you believe it, others will see it, too.

It's a very powerful lesson about the power of the unconscious and the power of dreams. As Cinderella sings:
In dreams you will lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true
My grandmother would hear me sing that, twirling around in my stocking feet on her kitchen floor like the princess I dreamed I would be, and she'd harumph, "Wishes don't wash dishes."

She was right, of course.

Wishes and dreams don't happen all by themselves. It takes work - hard work, often, a lifetime of struggle - and sometimes even then, life sometimes seems to conspire to render our dreams foolish for even dreaming them.

Without dreams and wishes, however, life is dull and often seems meaningless. Indeed, without hope, we perish.

In one of the Morning Prayer Suffrages in The Book of Common Prayer, we say,
V. Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten
R. Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
I'm afraid we in the Church have lost touch with the power of dreams.

Indeed, the problem with the Church is not lack of money or resources.

The problem with the Church is that we lack imagination and creativity.

Don't believe me? Here, read Bonnie Anderson, the President of the House of Deputies, and what she had to say as Executive Council convened today.
I believe that the best way to find out what the future looks like is to invest where we know that mission and ministry is already most effective and closest to God’s people.

Let’s reduce the amount that we ask dioceses to send to the Church Center. Let’s study the best use of the building at 815 Second Avenue with an eye to freeing up for mission the $7.7 million dollars that is earmarked for facilities cost and debt repayment during the next triennium. Let’s expect that dioceses and their networks know best how to build up God’s church and support ministry where it is most effective. And as we change the budget, let’s acknowledge that we also need to change our models of accountability and responsibility to be mutual and respectful of the entire people of God, not just those with ecclesial power.
MKL's 'I have a dream' in 'Wordle'.
Mutuality. Respect for the entire people of God.

This is the stuff of the dream of our baptismal vows.

It's time for us to roll up our sleeves and "follow our dreams to reach our goals and follow our goals to reach our dream."

Yes, it's scary stuff. Sort of like jumping off a tall building and expecting to be able to fly.

Edward Teller, a nuclear physicist once said,
When you get to the end of all the light you know and it's time
to step into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing
that one of two things shall happen: either you will be given
something solid to stand on,or you will be taught how to fly.
Actually, I think all dreams are little bits and pieces of God's dream in the first place.

Dreams are just an occasional peak into the mind and heart of the divine within each and every one of us. They happen when we're asleep because we couldn't bear the truth of them when we're wide awake.

So, c'mon, church. Have some faith.

Dream a little dream with me.

Who knows? We may just step out on that ledge and, together, learn to fly.


JCF said...

Edward Teller said that??? [Are we sure he wasn't quoting?]

Inasmuch as I don't like to speak ill of the dead, I'm tempted to make an exception for "the Father of the H-Bomb" (he popularized that nickname for himself), and traitor to his mentor J. Robert Oppenheimer.

I met him once.

He lived down to his reputation. [Though I didn't know about the Oppenheimier betrayal till years later]

Sorry to hijack your dream thread, Elizabeth, but that name set me off---

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - he did indeed. Ironic, ain't it?

Sextant said...

Great post! I caught it in your side bar. I love the preamble to your flying dream. Let me ask you, when you are soaring around, do you not think to yourself, this is so amazingly easy, why can't I do it all the time?

I am curious about the grand production you engender prior to flying. The rare times I have flown were pretty much private affairs. Extremely realistic and wonderful fun.

In my more esoteric (woo woo BS) readings, I have read that very realistic flying dreams are out of body experiences. OK so do I believe that? Well I have pretty much managed to compartmentalize my mind, sort of like the colleges in a vast university. There is the college of science, and then there is the college of woo woo. There are about a half dozen other colleges and they all pretty much ignore one another. Anyhow the hard nosed skeptics in the college of the sciences state that dreams are nothing but random firings of neurons and that our rational minds try in vain to put these random firings into some sort of story because we are very much temporal beings trying to make sense of the electro-chemical havoc that resembles more of the anarchy of the quantum foam than the rational manipulation of bits that an Intel Core processor performs. So the professors over at science say balderdash to this flying nonsense.

Meanwhile over at Woo Woo, Professor Moonbeam sits on her unicorn and tells me that indeed my spirit has left my body and is connected only by a golden cord. She then gets a dreamy look and starts to talk about chakras.

Me? I have been changing cat litter for 30 some odd years and ergo no doubt infected with a microbe that lives in the cat's gut. This microbe is truly one of nature's great achievements. It wants to live in a cat's digestive tract. It is quite harmless to the cat, and probably in some manner symbiotic. Well as you know one of the hazards of gut living is that you may get swept up in the crap of everyday life and lose your situation. Ah not to fear, cat turds sit around and decay a bit and then are often eaten by rodents. Alas, a rodent gut just doesn't hack it. This microbe wants to live in a cat. So it infects the rodent's brain in an immediately harmless manner and causes the rodent to not only lose its fear of cats, but to become attracted to the cats. So the microbe uses the rodent to find its way back home. Perhaps that is the symbiosis. I provide a home for you and you provide a tasty mouse for me.

In human beings, the microbe is believed to cause not only a love for cats but it might be a cause for schizophrenia. All I can tell you is that I love my kitty babies, "oh come to da da, you little furry schnookums" and I have no problem with flying dreams being out right BS and out of body experiences of a Divine and Eternal Soul at the same time.

Yes you may note, that my professors over at science are male--cold and calculating, and Dr. Moonbeam is not only female but a rather good looking one delivering her lectures from the back of a unicorn wearing Lady Godiva attire. I don't mean to be sexist but how the hell can I control the beings that exist in my mind especially when they are being engendered by microbes in search of a nice kitty. Quantum foam indeed.

Oh I exceeded 4096 characters. Continued below.

Sextant said...

Continued from above.

Yes, Teller is quite ironically poetic and spiritual for being the Father of thermonuclear weapons. I can throw rocks at Teller for being an egotistical ass and yes for his actions against Oppy...although Oppy was a bit of a dreamer--I am not sure that sharing bomb designs with all of humanity would be in our best interests.

One can certainly fault Teller for inventing the most cruel weapon known to man. But I will say this for thermonuclear weapons...they are equal opportunity. The kings, emperors, presidents, and premiers will all get their asses blown away along with we the dung encrusted masses that are usually forced to fight these things. As such, while I am not a proponent of nuclear weapons, I do believe that the world was spared two rather devastating conflagrations...the US invasion of Japan and the Soviet invasion of western Europe. Nuclear weapons may yet come to be our undoing, but I do in my heart believe that many of us, myself included, walk the face of the earth because of nuclear weapons. Although in my own personal history, I owe much to Winston Churchill and the LST. Strange things happen after a world war, a guy that crosses the Pacific on a LST meets a woman that welded them on a street car. Their conversation about LSTs resulted in me (alas a few years after they met--I always have found the notion of being the cause of a shot gun wedding to be romantic and thrilling, but boringly I was conceived well into wedlock). But I drift both from dreams and Edward Teller. We can hate Teller if we wish, but had it not been Teller it would have been some one else, and God only knows with what horrific results.

Here is a trivia question. What has been the most lethal weapon in history? Body count wise?

I read that it was the AK47. It has killed more people than any other weapon used by man including spears and bows and arrows. Unfortunately I have never been able to verify that. I believe I read it in an article in Newsweek on the 50th anniversary of the weapon. The H-bomb prevented a lot of AK-47s from being fired.

Well I should end my maniacal rambling. I did love this post. Very interesting. Well its time to grab the snookums head for my easy chair and take a nap. Wouldn't it be incredible to have a flying dream while holding the cat. We could mutually enjoy the flight.

I must snoop around here in your blog and see what other lovely gems you have awaiting to be unearthed. Lovely post.

Sextant said...

Here is an article that claims the AK-47 to be the most effective killer.

Interesting Mikhail Kalashnikov also relies on cirrhosis of the liver to help with his body count.