Friday, April 27, 2007

The Stuff of Dreams

In my two years of school I have heard several different points of view about dreams. One of my profs believes that dreams are a path to the unconscious, that they reflect our deepest fears and desires, that they are symbolic to the issues we are dealing in with life, etc. He uses dream interpretation as part of his counseling and believes that almost all dreams are significant in some way.

I have another professor who thinks that dreams are the minds way of recycling ideas and events of the recent past, that they occasionally reflect our fears/desires but for the most part aren't significant to our waking lives. Unless they were brought up in session, he would never inquire about them. And if they were shared he would be very hesistant to assign/interpret any meaning to them.

I probably lean more to the recycling bin idea and would like to let things stay there. Unfortunately, I suspect I have had dreams that were either spiritually or mentally reflective of something . . . important. Sharing one's dreams can be tricky. I find that sharing a dream can be a very personal thing, especially if the dream is about something we don't usually like to share; ourselves attacking/killing someone, doing something sexually (that we feel is inappropriate), being afraid of something, choosing to do something that we usually wouldn't, etc. As a Christian it can feel problematic to be sinning in our dreams! I told the first professor about a recurring dream I had in high school where I was always running away from this wolf. He of course was very interested! Finally one night, the dream changed and I never had it again. I wrote a poem about how the dreams finally ended and shared it with him (forgive the high school morbidness, overdramatic prose, lack of proper rhyme, etc.):


Treading lightly through the bramble,
As twilight quickly fled
The greyish trees cast their shadows,
And my spirit filled with dread
Homeward bound at a nervous pace,
Cursing the ill lit path
When the sound of terror incarnate,
Touched a twig and made it crack.

The moon was hidden in the Heavens,
As my vision swept the heights
Terror filled my searching eyes,
When they found him in the night
Two orbs of hellish blood red fire,
Marked his spot upon the way
Then his monstrous features came to me,
Great flanks and cloak of grey.

The demon spawn was known to me,
My deepest fear come true
He haunts my troubled slumber,
And stalks the dreamworld hue
Chasing me through my visions,
In his cruel unwavering gait
Countless nights awaking me,
With his laugh of blackish hate.

Throwing my burden to the ground,
My dagger is unsheathed
Tossing black mane he slowly sneered,
And bared his brutish teeth
Unholy white they seemed to shine,
As he let his spittle spill
Then with a jump of perfect poise,
He leapt in for the kill.

He knocked me down, raking my side,
With his white, angry claws
Madness gripped my frightened soul,
As his mouth began to gnaw
One limb raised to guard my throat,
The other gripped my dart
And then with a scream of bloody murder,
I stuck him through the heart.

With wounded speed the beast rolled away,
And watched as his life force bled
Then suddenly his frame went still,
And I knew that he was dead
Without glance back I staggered home,
Then dressed my wounds with time
No longer nights of fitless sleep,
Dreamless slumber would now be mine.

(c) Mark Westman, 1993

In the end it was facing and killing the wolf (instead of always running and waking up in a cold sweat) that I felt stopped the recurring dreams. Was it somehow tied to something that had happened in my real life? I'm not sure. Was I afraid of something? Was it a spiritual attack? Was my mind recalling something I'd read or seen on TV? I don't know. All I know is that I'm sure my prof was much more concerned about me then he used to be . . .

May Light increase!


Dayna said...

interesting thoughts on dreams, mark. i too have often wondered. i think that what i think (however i'm not entirely sure) is that most dreams are of the 'blue box' variety, but some can and do have emotional, mental, and/or spiritual significance.

and i enjoyed reading the poem...

and wow, mark, quite the story in your last post about your blood test, and quite the reflective conclusion!

however, i must correct you and say that it wasn't over a decade ago the last time you passed out. i will never forget you passing out at the beaver creek garbage dump 2 years ago. as you fell back your head just barely missed a big block of cement. that was a scary moment. glad that one is in the past!

but onto more pleasent things...

like spring robins, butterflies, and pussy willows...

ok, all done.

Mark said...

Dayna: Doh! I forgot about that one! To be fair though I had my my hand cut up and had lost some feeling in it. As for the dreams stuff, I suppose that all dreams can't be 'blue box" as there are many examples of God using dreams in the Bible. . .

Anonymous said...

I too am of the mind that dreams help us deal with things that happen while we are awake.

When Grandma Funk died, I had horrible nightmares for a while. There was nothing really scary about the scene, it was the colors that frightened me and the location of those colors. I went to my pastor and told him my dream and he helped me put meaning to those colors.

I realized much later that in my dreams, I was dealing with the realization that I had just lost one of the most significant members of my family. I was trying to figure out how the family dynamic would change now that she was gone. Once I had come to terms with the fact that my family would never be the same and that was okay, the dreams stopped.

I don't think we can really process all the thoughts and feelings we have in the course of a day. Our dreams are our body's way of dealing with the excess "stuff" that's in our brains. I for one, am glad that God made my body in such a way that I can figure things out, even in my sleep.

FYI, I think that your poem is really good! I was almost in the dream with you - you have a great way of describing things!

Hope you're doing well. Take care of yourself!

Love, Michele