|“Ouroboros,” By anonymous medieval illuminator;|
By Morris Dean
[Note: The unedited, dictated version of the following account was appended on June 15 to the May 27 Dreamsourcing column, “Sleeping and waking.” It was the approximately sixteenth set of “dream notes” posted as comments on that column.
The revised account below is my first attempt at a new Dreamsourcing column since May 27.]
Dream account for the night of June 14-15. Last night I seemed to have a flood of rich dreams. There were no obvious allusions to anything I had seen on TV recently. After a couple of nights of less sleep than usual, I had gone to bed at about 8 p.m. and quickly fallen asleep. I think it was around midnight that I first woke up to pee and shortly recognized that I had been dreaming.
At the time, I remembered the rough narrative of the dream, and I thought I would be able to recall it in the morning. But when I got up shortly after 4:15 and began organizing myself to do dictation, I found that I couldn’t remember it. I didn’t dwell on this, however, but turned to what I did seem to remember.
In the second dream, I was in a house – as I have been in numerous dreams over the years, though none recently that I have remembered. More precisely, I seemed to be in a particular room – or bedroom suite – in a house. I understood, without interacting with her, that my grown daughter was in a room down the hall, and someone else in the family – I guess her mother my wife – was in another room, although I was less aware that she was in the house than I was that my daughter was. The “project” of this dream – what I seemed to be attempting to accomplish – was to prepare for bed, and it was important not to disturb my daughter with light or noise, so I carefully closed the door and made as little noise as possible as I washed my face, etc.
In the next dream, I was in a “professional,” or work, setting (of the sort I was in at IBM). Someone in the organization had discovered that I had a trove of books about creativity, productive thinking, problem-solving – that sort of thing – and there were a good many copies of some of the titles (many more copies, and many more titles than I ever actually collected at IBM). The person who had discovered that I had them wanted me to make them available for distribution to help other people. I was fine with that and encouraged her (I think it was a female colleague) to proceed. (Note: I now have virtually none of the books that this seems to refer to, having divested myself of most of my books about a dozen years ago.)
In the next dream – or segment of the dream sequence – I was again in a work setting, this time even more “professional”-seeming in the sense that I seemed to be in a laboratory of some sort, with abundant evidence that previous “research” had been done or was in progress. “We” (my colleagues and I) seemed to be wondering, discussing whether there was some finding in our work whose significance we had not previously recognized. And there was someone in the office – a young woman! – who seemed to have insight into the value or significance of the “extra product” that the rest of us hadn’t yet recognized. In fact, she seemed delighted that someone else had guessed at the hidden value. I don’t know who the “someone else” was, however, for in the dream, the “hidden value” did not seem to have been revealed to me, or, anyway, it was not spelled out in the dream – except to the extent that “hidden value” of some sort had been affirmed.
I think, previous to that dream segment, there had been one in which I had parked my car in a small lot so that it was in the shade. And now, after the research-lab dream sequence, I went out to the parking lot and found that my car had been moved off the lot with one end propped up on a wall or divider, and it seemed clear to me that a group of individuals had simply lifted my car with their hands and carried it off the lot – they hadn’t had to carry it more than about thirty feet. My first thought, in the dream, was, oh, I will just lift the end of my car off the divider and pull it over enough to be able to drive it away. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t strong enough to do that.
|The ouroboros, Kekulé’s inspiration for the benzine ring|
By Haltopub - Own workbasé CC BY-SA 3.0
That is, it was seeming to me that much of the dream material last night, or the ones, anyway, about the books on creative thinking and problem-solving, and about the research laboratory, had to do with dreams as vehicles, or channels, or agencies of creativity and invention. And I was feeling buoyant and somehow “delivered,” because I have always recognized that the spark of my joy has come through experiencing insights or epiphanies, or idea connections. And I remembered, too, that just yesterday I had received an email from a network called “ResearchGate” telling me that my profile had been accessed, and I had gone to my account there and sentimentally reviewed its list of my published papers, including “Invoking the Muse of Technical Writing” (which I always understood as the muse of everything).
A different sort of feeling had accompanied the dream in the house where I was preparing for bed. In that dream, even though my daughter and her mother my wife were in the house, I felt lonely and a bit sad. (In fact, was the other person my wife? It seems not, since I was not with her – she was not with me. Was there another person at all, besides my daughter down the hall? And what was my daughter doing in the dream, since I had no interaction with her?) It is easy now to surmise that this dream represented my being awake – not yet in connection with my muse (let us say) by way of going to sleep and dreaming.
Kind of by the way, the dream sequence of preparing for bed, which was set in a house, reminded me of numerous other dreams and houses. One house, in particular – and I think it has been years since I have visited it in a dream – seemed to be modeled on (not literally) that of one of my wife’s brothers and his family. I may be thinking of this now simply because I was in touch with this brother by way of email yesterday, which was his new wife’s birthday.
But that wasn’t the only house I have dreamed about (or in which dreams were “set”) in the past. Another in which numerous dreams were set seemed to have been based on the two-story home my wife and I lived in for 25 years in Chapel Hill, the early ones of which with our son and daughter. I vaguely recall those dreams as comfortable or comforting, reminders of secure life and routine.
I am to the point of preparing this, hopefully coherent, standalone dream account, because I think it is now clear that getting up in the morning to dictate – rather than getting up during the night to do so – seems to be a good procedure. That is, it seems to be working, and I feel that last night’s “productivity” was substantial, both in content and emotional reassurance and encouragement. I am only sorry that I cannot now remember the first sequence, which seemed of the same order, but perhaps less significant. I have chosen to think of it simply as a warm-up for what came after. Maybe the lesson is that, though I may not be able to remember everything when I don’t immediately do dictation but wait until I wake up for the day, I will nevertheless remember enough to gain insight and information about what is going on with me.
An anecdote came to mind as I was making notes, of a physical therapist who had directed me to repeat the various exercises she had taught me for a certain length of time each. I had adopted the habit of “counting seconds” as I was doing the exercises. But somehow I observed her doing one of the exercises herself, and she didn’t seem to be doing it for as long as she had said. I asked her whether she weren’t counting seconds. She told me that no, she wasn’t – she would rather “concentrate on her breathing”! I think I learned from my dreams last night that I have now sufficiently developed the mechanics of remembering and recording my dreams so that I no longer need to “count seconds”: I no longer need to think about the mechanics, but just “concentrate on my breathing” and get on with the dreaming – with the creativity itself, so to speak. Or, alternatively, I can leave the books (the mechanics) to others; I no longer need to think about them.
As for the ouroboros as a metaphor for dreaming, “Carl Jung interpreted [it] as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche.” The Wikipedia article from which that is quoted also quotes Jung from his Collected Works, Vol. 14 para. 513: “The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness....”
I am coming to see dreaming as devouring one’s own tale, one’s own story – discovering it through one’s dreams, understanding it by paying attention to them, contemplating their possible significance....
|Copyright © 2016 by Morris Dean|