Saturday, April 24, 2010
Dream Time: Where Domestication and Convention Are Upended by Wildness
I watched as my primitiveness
Rode out on a west-bound train.
I could only take a deep breath,
Clinch my jaw,
And fight back the tears
As one does when the lover he cannot live without
For on that train
Along with those ape-like instincts
Rode all that is lovely, fair and glad.
A priest was talking and did not notice.
A professor chuckled with half interest.
A poet was wide-eyed and shouted
In soft whispers that focus the heart,
"Look, feel, and remember.
This is the way of the soul!"
We have many kinds of dreams. Often they are what I call “little” dreams - interesting brief scenes that probably tell us something about ourselves. Then there is the “big” dream that you know contains something important from your unconscious. Sometimes these big dreams occur at a time of transition in life, and sometimes it seems that they occur when one’s subconscious self knows that the conscious self needs to be aware of something. The poem above was inspired by one of those big dreams that left me with strong sensations and strong emotions. I tried to boil down the experience into as few words as possible. If you are interested in seeing where the poem came from, I’ve included the entry from my dream journal below. This was a dream in which I was re-examining some previous vocational considerations and realizing their paralytic effect. I also met my muse, who apparently lives with the wild things.
Dream of the Train
I went to a gathering at A.J. and L.J.’s house. (In real life A.J. is a college theology professor and L.J. is a church choir member and a refined southern lady). It was a large, spacious house with many rooms. There were many pictures, artifacts, and decorations all over (In some ways like a museum). I sat down on a wide staircase in one of the great rooms (it actually looked like open steps going up to a porch, like on a big country house). Just as I sat down, I saw an alligator run out from under the steps. I was startled - I tried to move up and away from the alligator - then I noticed that the alligator was muzzled so he couldn't open his jaws. At that point I realized that the creature was a family pet. L.J. said it was time to feed the alligator. She brought out a cooked chicken. The alligator took it. He could open his jaws just enough to get the chicken in his mouth, but no further because of the muzzle.
The gathering was some kind of meet-and-eat social. There was talk about re-examining the priesthood. I heard someone talk about seeing the priesthood from a different vantage point/ different perspective/ new phase in life. The one talking said he had never been so tempted to enter the priesthood as he was now at this juncture in life. I found myself saying, "Hey, yeah! That's right"
As this conversation was going on, I walked around to a winding staircase, away from the crowd, and lay down on the stairs as if asleep - unable to get up, paralyzed. My mind was sleepy, but eyes open and awake to everything. I watched a young woman with long, light-brown hair come into the house. She walked through the gathering of people in the other room and around to the staircase where I lay motionless. She said nothing, but looked at me and took hold of my foot (left foot, I think). Immediately my body was fully energized and my mind completely clear. I was instantly up and standing. The woman then walked back around the corner into the great room where others were gathered. I immediately realized the truth of my encounter - that this woman was my anima who could fully enliven.
I went back into the great room - did not see her. I asked A.J. if he saw the woman who came through. He halfway chuckled and said, "Oh yes, She was here but saw the alligator and then took off." (as if she were frightened away). I thought, "Oh no!" I ran to look out the window. I found myself looking out a huge window overlooking a city, looking down on what appeared to be Grand Central Station with trains leaving out, other trains loading up and preparing to disembark. Suddenly I realized that this was a dream perfectly depicting the feelings of at once being touched by, inspired by the anima/muse, being seized by beauty, but then being unable to hold the moment; realizing that you have momentarily grasped the unattainable, and longing for that life and beauty once more as it slips beyond your grasp.
I turned to A.J. and said, "This is it! It's incredible. These are dream images communicating those creative feelings about my anima! I turned back to look out the window to watch the trains leaving. I wanted to savor the feeling that was a combination of longing/ regret/ hopefulness/ gladness/ gratitude/loss/sadness/ a fullness on the verge of tears. I continued to watch the trains leaving, knowing that she was on one of them. One train was being loaded with gorillas, several rows of them, on their way to a natural environment after being kept in a zoo. I said to myself, "They are all leaving," still savoring that feeling of loss/ sadness/ gratitude/ longing. Then I turned back to A.J, walked through the house - amazed that it was a dream but just as clear and vivid as life.
Later I found myself back home. A few friends were there. Vicki came in. I said, "Vicki, do you want to hear about my incredible dream?"
Vicki said, "No, I'm about talked out." She had been on the phone with a client. I said, "Okay. I've got to go write this one down." Thus ended the dream.
[Note: Some time after this dream was written down (and after the poem had been written) I was re-reading it and realized something else about the anima’s departure: A.J. said, “She saw the alligator and then took off.” It was not the alligator that she feared. What she feared was being domesticated like that alligator. Wildness was her natural state. Apparently creativity is connected with a wild spontaneity. Just as the apes were leaving the zoo to go to a natural setting, she was leaving a highly domesticated scene and going to that wild and natural state – at least that is how I interpret it.]