Do you dream your dreams or do dreams dream you? Carl Jung believed, “One does not dream, one is dreamed.” For him, the key to understanding dreams was that within the symbol framework we had to remember that we are all the objects in our dreams.
Until last week, I hadn’t given my dreams much thought at all. They were fleeting, often forgotten by mid-morning. I could go long stretches without recalling any dreams. As a kid, I’d often suffered terrible nightmares of housefires and tornadoes, so it didn’t bother me not to dream.
For the past few months, I’ve been leading a spiritual journaling class based on Christina Baldwin’s book Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest. One section of the book focuses on the types of spiritual guidance we can seek and explore in journaling. There in Chapter 10: Dreams: Sleep’s Guidance.
One suggestion Baldwin made was to assign yourself dreams very consciously, saying, “I want a dream tonight that will help me better understand ______________.”
So one night I told my subconscious in a sort of strange half-incantation/half-prayer: “I want a dream tonight to help me understand my creativity and my writing life.”
It worked. Much to my skeptical disbelief.
I dreamed I was standing barefoot on a patch of grass, painting a shed with a large, heavy paintbrush. The work was not unpleasant, but it took a very long time, and I was wholly engaged in the processes. Suddenly, I felt my hands and feet tingle with energy. BOOM! I was struck by a bolt of lightning that knocked me off my feet. I crouched in the grass on hands and knees, unharmed and in awe at the power that had just been released. Then I picked up my paintbrush and kept painting.
This message was a good reminder of what pursuing creative work means. There’s a lot of monotony and small tasks (brush, brush, brush), but when I’m diligent, BOOM! strikes of inspiration, crackly, wild and powerful energy are channeled—unexpectedly—through me.
I’m struggling now to find enough time to stand in the grass at that shed for as many hours as I’d like—and I find a bleak depression seeping in whenever this happens—usually like clockwork, right at midterms, when my teaching work is its most demanding.
I told a dear friend about my dream, and she said, “You know Jung’s theory on dreams? We’re everything in the dream. So you’re the lightning, too.”
Isn’t this a wonderful reminder? We are all—in whatever way we’re bringing forth something new—in poetry, storytelling, music, art—are as powerful and as beautiful as a lightning bolt.
Be a lightning bolt.
I will ask you, just as Baldwin does:
*What kinds of power have you refused to accept or consider in yourself?
*What kinds of power are you getting ready to claim?