“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” ~ Benjamin Spock.
One of my enduring memories is of a dream I had as a child. We were driving through the night to get to our summer vacation home. That sounds a lot more glamorous than it was. As poor church mice, we had little in disposable income. For most people in that situation, camping was the way to go. Nowadays they talk about ‘glamping’, which is of course several levels up from the ex-army tent (second-hand, of course) that was shaped like a bell, and slept five children comfortably, radiating out from the center pole like bicycle spokes. My parents had their privacy, a two-sleeper next to us.
We were fortunate that my father had connections; the town of Borth-y-gest was a sleepy Welsh village (with one road in and the same road out) perched on an estuary. North Wales is a rugged, mountainous region, filled with mist and mystery. Somewhere there are dragons sleeping underground awaiting the return of Arthur. You may tiptoe through a bluebell grove where fairies hide behind flowers. It is a land of fifty shades of green, thanks to the rain which is never far away. The field on which we camped (don’t trip over the ropes! Don’t touch the side of the tent when it rains or you break its waterproof qualities!) overlooked the beach. Picture a beach with huge, sharply cleaved slate rocks in abundance, huge outcrops that made for endless games of: “I’m the King of the castle!” Speaking of castles, across the estuary we could see (on a clear day) the ruins of Harlech Castle, a 13th century castle. And always in the distance we could see the Moelwyns, a mountain range with numerous peaks, one of which (Cnicht – gotta love those Welsh names!) is known as the Welsh Matterhorn, for its sharp, pyramid shaped peak.
At the start of the summer my father would take the long drive with us (no motorways to speed us there in those days) through the mountains of Snowdonia to get to the campsite. Kids, camping gear, supplies, clothes, all would be packed tight into the vehicle. One year as I slept on the drive, I had the dream that stayed with me until now. It was of a forest scene; trees and animals frozen like statues, in monochromatic grey. That was it, just a scene, but it was as real as if I had woken and looked out of the car, and that was all I could see. Years later, when taking my family to Epcot Center, I remember riding through the dome, Spaceship Earth, and one of the scenes we saw looked exactly like my ghostly dream scene. Spooky!
There are many cultures who invest a lot of time interpreting dreams. Dreams may foretell death or pregnancy. In some Native American traditions, young people are sent off on vision quests, spending time away from the tribe, and expected to come back with a clear vision of who they are and who they will become, armed with a spirit guide and a message. My own dreams have always been endlessly fascinating (to me, at least!), sometimes seeming like a movie I am watching, but never, alas, with clear meaning.
I got to thinking about dreams this week, after I heard of the death of a woman who used to dream. Apparently her dreams would be quite specific, even identifying winning numbers and horses. For her husband, this was wonderful, for he loved to gamble! Except that, to his disgust, she was a quiet Christian, one who practiced her faith daily, and it would only be after the fact that he would know that she had dreamt the winners! She would not support gambling.
Dream interpretation is used by some psychotherapists to try to get to the root of a person’s emotional or psychological distress. Freud started it, but of course he is suspect, since he seemed to see phallic symbolism everywhere! But what I found fascinating and frustrating about the concept of using dreams in this way is that often the question will be asked of the dreamer: ‘What do you think it means?’ In my mind, if I am paying a psychotherapist, I want them to tell me what it means! But with our complicated, mysterious brains, since we are the originators and creators of these thoughts that tumble together and synthesize into weird dreamscapes and storylines, we must hold the key to understanding our own messages!
When on a mission of discovery and growth, you can often read that we hold the answers we are searching for, deep within. We just have to dig deep enough, and trust. So often when we turn to others for advice, we are only looking for confirmation of what we already know we need to do. If you are lucky, you will have friends who can be sounding boards for your ideas, who will reflect it back to you in confirmation. Also, if you are lucky, you will see messages when you need them.
This week I had a dream that involved flood waters (not surprising as I almost could not get out of the parking lot at work the day before!), but driving through the flood waters I saw some beautiful Sandhill cranes. These large wading birds are found in Central Florida (I have never seen them in South Florida), and quite strange, as they seem to have no fear and walk right up to the houses that have appeared in their wetlands. Further along in my ride through the waters I could see manatee, those huge rolling ‘sea cows’ that try to survive despite loss of habitat and dangerous boats that threaten their existence. Of course when I woke up I used the Google to try to understand what the significance of these creatures. But I remembered a message I had received from the manatees when I had first snorkeled in a wetsuit in a chilly Florida spring: Be like the manatee, just go with the flow. Which I used the next morning as I was late leaving my house for work and stuck in a long traffic jam.
In the end it is not the dream, but the meaning we apply to it. Messages will appear, if we look for them. And yes, the work is for us to find and apply the meaning to our life, for we do have the answers.
On this fine Friday morning, I hope you find inspiring messages in small things, and put them into practice in meaningful ways. Have a wonderful weekend, Family!