Saturday, August 28, 2010

A sleeping/waking puzzle

The on-line dictionary says haunt means to visit often. I am, therefore, haunted by the frequent dream appearances of a late friend. Two separate dreams very early this morning, leaving me with the same disorientation and let-down that resulted from previous - and recent - encounters. We were friends; in the months before his death we didn't see each other but talked for hours on the phone. In life, I would not have guessed that he would turn up so often or leave me in grief every time, with each awakening feeling as thought he continues to die again and again.

There must be comfort I can't know in a faith that says death reunites us with all whom we have lost. What makes this a mystery within a mystery - for what are dreams, if not fragments of the unknown, tossed up by our own unknowable sleeping minds - is the intensity of the loss, repeated. Why him, why now, why?

In junior high school I had - and carried with my binder and textbooks - a copy of Freud's volume on the interpretation of dreams. I forget whether I bought it or found it in our home library. I just know as I hurried along the halls it perched on my right hip, top of the pile. What imagined version of myself I was trying to project is something I can guess at but not truly know; I think I was trying for smartypants soothsayer. Perhaps Freud makes sense to some 14-year-olds but his was a code I couldn't crack. If there was something accessible, I probably disagreed with it.

I used to receive catalogs from new-age-slanted book clubs. There were always the manuals, with symbol-heavy illustrated covers, on interpreting our own dreams. In keeping with my there-is-very-little-that-is-one-size-fits-all philosophy, I found it difficult to accept that what a fish meant in your dream meant the same in mine.

So I am prepared to take all that I don't know about dreams and put it in a shoebox under the bed, while I take whatever I do know about Jack, about myself, and see if I can find more overlappings and parallel lines. In fiction, there is always a reason for the haunting; visited and visitor are not random and unconnected. I admit to noticing what might be considered signs, but only of good, never ill. If I find a coin on the sidewalk, it reminds me there is abundance, that a gift may come from anywhere. Sooner or later, I imagine I'll know the reasons for Jack's house calls. It is far too late to try and make sense of Freud.

20 comments:

June Calender said...

What a satisfaction to read a thoughtful, rational post on a subject that far too often elicits new age-y jargon. I think you understand that living with and through life's conundrums brings the answers you need when you need them.

Marylinn Kelly said...

June - Welcome and thank you. Living through the conundrums seems the only viable option; if there are answers down the road, so much the better. I appreciate your visit and comment and hope you will return.

Kass said...

I've had some amazing and disturbing dreams, and like you, have doubted the universality of dream interpretation. There's every chance that our dreams are random firings and connections in our brains, but there's also a chance that they may contain information that we have overlooked in our conscious state.

There is a whole religion based on the interpretation of dreams: Eckankar, it's premise being that God speaks to us through our dreams (and past lives).

Whatever dreams are, like life, it's up to us to give it meaning.

(as a side note and at the risk of losing credibility, let me just tell you that two people who are dead have appeared to me in dreams and given me information that turned out to be verifiable, which I had no knowledge of before they came to me in the dreams)

Donna B said...

I believe those who have passed use our dreams to visit and send messages. I have experienced it on several ocasions. Vivid dreams have been the source of waking tired and exhausted. I'd be interested in hearing about your dreams if you care to email me and discuss it.

grrl + dog said...

Possibly no deeper meaning than to simply come visit you and say hi.

They do that, ya know,when you sleep your rational mind's white noise is off.

what were you guys doing or talking about - that is the real crux.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I think you would probably find Jung to be more accessible.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - First, you lose no credibility with me...I've received medical recommendations, had reassurances, been told secrets - some by living people, some not - can't even recall what all...and as you say, some of it may be the quieted mind that is able to access either intuition or overlooked facts. I wasn't aware of a religion based on the interpretation of dreams. I will continue to puzzle it and thank you for your thoughts and information.

Donna - We can certainly discuss further through e-mail. The mystery that is life is part of what makes it so rich, though a few more answers wouldn't spoil any of the fun. I will be in touch.

Denise - I have thought, and some of the time it feels likely, that some of the appearances could be simply...visitation, as some dreams simply seem to be adventures or mind candy. When I awoke from these dreams I had memory of what was being said or taking place and thought, oh, I'll remember this and didn't write it down. Of course I have forgotten much of it.

Laoch - I suspect that the weightiness I ascribed to Freud was a big part of the reason I chose, and dragged, him around with me. Time and knowledge gained have told me that, as you suggest, I find more accessible meaning in Jung, though I am no scholar in either case. I think I also probably attempted to help my school friends interpret their dreams; I had some know-it-all moments.

***Thank you, all who commented, for gracious messages and trusting that I have not lost it completely.*** Love, Marylinn

Robert the Skeptic said...

As a skeptic and one who is steeped in science, I fully accept and embrace that our dreams are the results of our unfettered and free-associating minds. As Kass said, information that our minds have overlooked in our conscious state.

Things and people that are troubling to me appear in my dreams; these include those who I have outlived. Upon awakening, my reemerging consciousness tries to reconcile and make sense of what my mind has conjured. I try to enjoy my dreams when I can and am disappointed when they flee from memory so quickly in the morning.

We spend so much of our time awake in a state of control, restriction, restraint, channeling our mental state for productivity, focus, even recreation. Dreaming is the ultimate in creativity.

Some people are able to control their dreams; "Lucid Dreaming". I have been unsuccessful with this. But I wonder what would even be the point of controlling our dreams? Instead, I prefer to go along for the ride and see where the stored thoughts, memories, and experiences choose to take me.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - I agree completely. Having given a bit of time, many years ago, to exploring "lucid dreaming," with no success that I could measure...I may not have understood the concept. I, too, am along for the ride. I like the notion of our dreams as the ultimate in creativity, free to become whatever they will. Today, trying to shape or direct them is the last thing I'd want to do.

RachelVB said...

Marylinn,
I, too, have often dreamt of a lost friend. She is still living, but we are disconnected and don't speak anymore. I wonder if we dream of the things we lose because we can never get them back. They do haunt us in a way, they are so out of our control. What we want and what is.
I don't think of her often in my daily life, but I've had dreams about her at random and they always shake me a little.
I do wonder what in my life triggers them. I looked up to her. I think she was a standard to compare my life to, my achievements.
In my last dream, I felt finally accepted by her presence in my dream.

Kass said...

Wild asshair thought just swept in as I was reading everybody's comments:

Dreams are like blogging. How real or unreal we make everybody on the net or in the ether is a slippery, sliding scale of intent, focus and consciousness - measured by a constantly changing frame of reference. Reality is in between what we can touch and what we can imagine. "There is nobody out there." I'm not real. Your perception of me is all there is.

Oh wait, the hair just fell out.
Back to blogging....

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Your account supports, I think, our dreams as a way of resolving what cannot be put together in waking life. That we are given more than one, quick chance causes me to be hopeful; they will return and try again. Part of my puzzle about the dream in the posting is that, at least consciously, I wouldn't have identified this friend as someone with whom I had unfinished business, though his death seemed much too early. But there may be subtler connections - or mirrors - that hold keys to awareness, my own or of our human condition. I also have dreams populated by some still living MIAs.

Kass - Not too far off what I wrote about today, eventually. So many of us seem to be on the razor's edge currently; finding reality between what we can touch and what we can imagine. To keep from making myself any more confused, I have to make a choice and stay with it or lock myself in endless dithering. As I see it, whatever we take from our connections on line becomes reality; it is what we have. I can only speak for myself but it is also an impression I have of the people with whom I wish to have additional dialogue: there is no point that I can see to present myself as other than I am. Not all of what I am, that feels too exposed, but what is shown is as real as I can make it. Is this an accurate interpretation of your wild hair thoughts?

Claire Beynon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - The gift of comments is the give-and-take which we can conduct here. I thank you - and all who have brought forth their thoughts and experiences. I hope you don't feel that you said too much (sometimes that's a sense that comes over me after I leave a comment...as with so many things, we are aware of wanting balance, expressing interest or concern, wanting to leave the best of ourselves).

I tend to follow the thought of all aspects in the dream being parts we play, except for the times when it feels as though my mind decided to show me a movie for pure entertainment. And I adhere, too, to the belief of us as spiritual beings undergoing a human experience. No wonder it frequently feels as though I accidentally put on someone else's shoes.

An exercise that might bring some clarity would be listing (on paper, not just thinking about them) what I feel are the gifts Jack brought to our friendship. I have lost people to whom I was, as far as I can say, much closer who have either not appeared in dreams or if they did, did not leave behind the same grief. As in all things, I expect that more will be revealed. And, again, I do believe that we carry the departed with us in ways that we cannot really lose. I appreciate your willingness to speak as you did and am always happy to find you here.

Claire Beynon said...

Dear Marylinn... apparently Freud did not appreciate my sideways nudge and came along to trip me up with one of his 'slips'... I am so, so sorry. While I was outside feeding the birds, I had this nagging little thought... Did I write Jack or Jim? Surely not Jim (part of my separate story?)... but alas, I see I wrote the former. I'm mortified. Please forgive me? And thank you for your gracious reply and for seeing past the slip to the 'more' that I intended. Bless you. L, C x

Would you mind deleting my first comment and accepting the one below in its stead, please? I'd be relieved and thankful. X

There's much to contemplate here, Marylinn... thank you. It was once (actually, it's been more than once) suggested to me that in our dreams, we take on all the various aspects of that dream...that each character, objects, colour, word, etc... are fragments of a mirror reflecting back parts of ourselves and at the same time illuminating those parts' connection to the whole (i.e integrated ourselves and the universal whole - or soul. Corpus mundi.). These days, I tend to look at my dreams with this 'coat hanger' in mind...

In the context of your recent dreams and Jack's frequent appearances, I find myself wondering what parts of you came to life when you talked for hours on the phone? Perhaps these night-time encounters with him are a means to reconnect you with those parts (if there's something you miss or feel you might have lost touch with?)? I don't know, of course, and I hope you won't mind me proffering these thoughts, Marylinn? I do so with care.

Was it Jung who said our unconscious minds are worlds wiser than our conscious minds? I like to think of our unconscious mind linking arms our conscious mind and the two of them walking together, gathering puzzle pieces and, when we need it, reassuring us that we are never far from those we love, whether they are alive and 'with us' (physically with us) in this world, or not...

Coming to terms with loss is a tough one, though. This has been one of my biggest battles, that's for sure... I try to think in terms of loss experienced, and loss perceived; to tell myself that loss experienced (real, flesh-and-blood loss... I-can-no-longer-see-or-touch-you loss) is something I can negotiate with; do we ever really lose our loved ones? We carry their imprint, their mark is eternal, an enduring feature of our inner landscape. This doesn't necessarily take the ache away but perhaps it makes it more bearable?

The other day I read this - 'We tend to think of ourselves as physical beings having a spiritual experience, when in truth, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience...' No wonder it's so hard for us to make sense of what's real and what's illusion, what's ephemeral and what's enduring, what passes away and what remains. It's a conundrum alright.

It's ever so comforting to know we're not alone in our grappling. The ache you feel for Jack and your loss of him is surely honouring, Marylinn - of him, yourself and the significance of your shared walk.

I hope I haven't said too much. You have so much wisdom; I enter your space with great care and appreciation.
Warmly, Claire

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - Our dialogue is a bit topsy-turvy...hahaha, what isn't. All is well. Rest easy.

Kass said...

Marylinn - Yes, that comes close to what dashed through my brain. Thanks for giving it more clarity.

Claire Beynon said...

Marylinn - thanks ++.

I love Kass's "wildass hair thought!"

L, C x

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass and Claire - You are both welcome and I have to say, this has been quite a dialogue, I could not have dreamed (heh heh) of a greater response. You never know when you type that first sentence, do you?

Claire Beynon said...

Heh heh - one never knows, no... and 'tis fine so. x