Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Paris is all around you

Our dreams do not come to torment us with past failures or to revive regret.  Our dreams come in service of our health and well-being.  Today’s recurring dream will repeat itself until our dreamer takes action toward thriving in her remaining years.

Dear Carolyn,

The dream I am sending you has happened quite a few times.  I think the urgency is there because I'm old (66) and time is running out and Paris is symbolic.  Until I was 61 I was fairly impoverished, trying to make a living as an artist and never linking up with a patron who had any money.  Then I received a modest inheritance which allowed me to relax a little and not worry constantly.  The Paris dream mainly occurred before I got the money, but still happens now and then to remind me that I never made it as an artist and haven't seen much of the world.  

The small hotel room is dark and nondescript.  I have a sense I’ve arrived in Paris but can’t be sure.  Looking out the window, I see no Eiffel Tower, but then I know -- it really is Paris, my dream come true!  The winter gloom tells me I only have an hour or two to explore before nightfall; and my plane leaves first thing in the morning.  So little time to see so much!  I glance around frantically for my purse but I haven’t brought one.  No luggage, passport, or money either.  Anxiety rises but I know I must get out of there now and grab what I can before it’s too late.  I’ll never have another chance.


Yearning for Paris

Dear Yearning,

You have a good start on the meaning of your dream, and the background you have provided helps us put the dream in context.  It does have a sense of urgency built in by way of the darkening sky of the ‘winter gloom,’ a metaphor for the winter of your life.  

Added to that are the facts that you have only an hour or two to do and see so much; and your plane is leaving first thing the very next morning.  These are common thoughts and anxieties for people entering into the ‘winter of their years.’  It’s natural to make a life review and think to yourself, “I’d better hurry and do as much as I can before I depart!”

When you look around, you don’t see the Eiffel Tower or any other landmark that says you’ve made it to Paris, the artists’ mecca that you aspired to.  But your dream makes it clear that you are in a place worthy of exploration and appreciation. 

Like all of us as we age, Dear Dreamer, you don’t want to spend time regretting what you have not yetdone or achieved.  Your dream has not come to taunt you.  It has come to exhort you:  Get out the door and live the life you have remaining!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dream Interpretation - No worries with this snake

Dreamers from all around the world report images of snakes.  Myths and norms of a society help determine a symbol’s meaning.  In our American culture, we have an almost universally negative reaction to snakes.  Perhaps only herpetologists feel kindly toward this primordial creature!  Today’s dreamer has her own guess as to a snake’s implication in her dream:

Dear Carolyn,

I don’t remember if you’ve ever written about snakes in dreams.  Over my life, I’ve had a few dreams, or maybe even more than a few, that included snakes.  I’m sure they are extremely Freudian! 

Here’s the latest one.  It’s really just a piece of the dream.  I’m sure there was more to it, so do what you can with it, please:

I seemed to be walking along a narrow dirt path in a rural area.  Reminds me of the fields near where I grew up in rural California.  Not much around except grass on both sides.  A snake on the left side of the path startled me and stopped me in my tracks.  It actually looked more like a tree branch, gray and weathered.  Somehow, it was dead and alive at the same time.  Its head almost looked like a piranha’s head.  Its mouth was open and it had long teeth.  For a moment I was afraid when a voice in my head said, “Let it bite you.  It won’t hurt!”  I did.  I let it bite me and the voice was right – it didn’t hurt!


Snake Bit

Dear Snake Bit,

A dream of moving along a path might signify a milestone, updating you on your progress at this point in your life.

The setting of your dream also offers a clue as to a possible meaning for you:  The narrow path reminds you of the fields where you spent your childhood.  Perhaps there is something in your consciousness now that harkens back to those days.  Whatever it is, it has stopped you in your tracks – kept you from making forward progress.  Perhaps it has restricted you from moving more freely in the scope and direction you desire.

This snake in the grass – note the play on words implying something sinister – is in poor condition, indicating it is essentially dead.  Even so, you have kept it alive; in your words it is dead, but alive.  But take note:  It is gray and weathered like the lifeless tree branch it is.  Is there a branch in your family tree or event(s) from that time in your life that have withered – “weathered” – and died?  Thank goodness!  Their ‘bite’can no longer harm you!   

Just as your inner voice tells you, no matter how scary or dangerous the events of that era were to you then, there is no need for you to be concerned now, Dear Dreamer!  You can move past this point in your history.  Let it go.  Your way need not be so narrow.  Expand your horizons and leave your old demons behind!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dreams about cars are pervasive in our society.  Such dreams have the potential for meaning on several levels.  Today’s dreamer brings an opportunity to explore the possibilities.

Dear Carolyn,

I just turned 70 and I am amazed at life and a little baffled by what lies ahead.  I have been reading your column for a while now, so I know you say that cars might stand for our bodies.  That’s one of the reasons this dream bothers me.  I’m worried that it is telling me that something’s wrong with me health-wise:  

I’m driving along in an older car that I don’t recognize.  It’s red, but the paint is oxidized and the car needs to be washed and vacuumed.  It’s dark outside and I’m on a road I don’t recognize either.  I come to a stop sign and try to start the car even though it is already running.  This makes it stall and I can’t get it to start up again.  

Next, there’s a sharp shooter in the area.  I fall to the ground to protect myself, but I get hit by a grazing bullet.  It scrapes some skin off my spine and somehow lodges under the skin in my thigh.


Worried About Myself

Dear Worried,

Thanks for reading the column!

In our American culture, cars appear in many dreams.  Depending on the dreamer and the circumstances, a car may be just a car.  So, if you dream that your car won’t start, it could be time to check the starter or the battery.  Some dreams are as straightforward as that!

As you mentioned, a car in your dream can be an effective metaphor for health issues, too.  In that case, a dream of an overheated car that blows a fuse could be cautioning the dreamer to slow down and manage her temper.

Your dream has clues to another interpretation of a car – as the method, or state of mind by which you maneuver your way through life.  Perhaps you find your circumstances and feelings unrecognizable, Dear Dreamer:  Are you feeling older and a little worse for the wear – needing to be spruced up?  You find yourself in the dark and on a road that is unfamiliar like the phase of life you are entering.  It is unknown to you and daunting, no doubt.

The car may not look as good as it once did, but it is already running.  It could be that by trying to start it anyway, you are trying to get yourself motivated to move along the road ahead and enjoy this sometimes mysterious and often dreaded phase of life. 

Is that sharp shooter an astute observer in your life whose remarks were aimed to take your down?  The good news is, you dodged the bullet.  It does only minor damage to you – taking only a little skin off your back – notice the play on words?  And another one – it just got under your skin.  Maybe you are cursing the inevitable, Dear Dreamer, but you’re not dead yet!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Nelson Mandela leads the way

Famous people may appear in our dreams to highlight a way of thinking that we are entertaining.  Today’s dreamer brings an iconic figure into her own dream as an illustration of her chosen path and reassurance that it’s right for her.

Dear Carolyn,

My dream was very vivid and I still feel all the happiness and satisfaction I felt in the dream.  

It was a crowded auditorium and as I tried to get away from the crowd I see Nelson Mandela also struggling and almost pinned against a wall.  When I saw and recognized him I felt such emotions!  Gratitude, excitement, admiration, love.  I hugged him and asked if I could take a picture with him and he kindly agreed.  
We walked away from the crowd smiling.  We went over to some friends of mine and asked for one of them to take the picture.  I asked if they knew who he was and they didn't seem to know, which puzzled me. 

Then he took a seat next to me and we conversed.  I mentioned how great he looked, how strong and young he still appeared.  Later I realized that he was the guest speaker for the event.  When he was signaled he then got up, said goodbye and walked off; but he turned around and made eye contact with me, smiled, nodded his head in a ‘yes’ motion and continued on his way.

During the entire dream I felt nothing but complete happiness and satisfaction.  I still do.  Like it was real.  It makes me smile and even tear up.  Please help me figure out what this means.  


In Awe of Mandela

Dear In Awe,

In your dream you are breaking away from the crowd.  This most likely mirrors events in your waking life where you find yourself feeling different or apart from those whom you’ve identified with until now.  Perhaps you have felt your back against a wall, but you find a hero who leads the way for you.

Of all the things Nelson Mandela is renowned for, perhaps his martyrdom is best known.  Are you also feeling martyred for a moral stance you have been outspoken about?  Your dream features you as parallel to Mr. Mandela, seated alongside him; in a photo beside him; but your friends don’t recognize him, or you, for the righteousness you represent.  It is perplexing to you and separates you from your usual crowd.

Like Mr. Mandela, in your dream you are trying to get away from group-think.  In waking life, you have done this by virtue of your declaration of an ethical stance that is apart from those around you.  Your friends don’t seem to get it.  How can they notknow what you so clearly see as the right path?

The beauty of your dream is that you are certain of your choices.  That is what accounts for the pervasive feelings of happiness and satisfaction in your dream and after it.  Don’t falter, Dear Dreamer!  You’re on the right course!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Does this dream predict death?

Dreams of death can be unsettling.  The good news is that in the language of dreams, death represents letting go of the old self to make way for the new self – a necessary step in personal growth.  Today’s dreamer offers an example.

Dear Carolyn,

I am worried about a strange dream I had a few weeks ago.  It is on my mind all the time and I would like to know what it means.

In my dream there was my daughter, myself and another person.  I could only see the back of the other person’s head and she had a long scarf draped around, obscuring her identity.  Her back was to me and she was standing just off to the side of us. 

I asked this person what my daughter’s birthday was and I expected to hear May 2nd, 1990, which is her birthday.  But instead of that date, this person said, “March 9th – death.”

I was shocked and asked again.  Again, this person said in a loud voice, “March 9th – death.”

I woke up then very shaken up and had to walk around the house a while to calm down, but the dream stays on my mind all the time.  My daughter and I are extremely close, more like friends than mother and daughter.  She says she’s ready to move out on her own, but since March 9th is getting closer, I am afraid to let her go.  I’m scared the dream means that she will die on that date. 


Afraid for My Daughter

Dear Afraid,

Dreams of death can be frightening, especially when they seem to refer to our loved ones.  Keep in mind the language of dreams is metaphor.  In your dream, one word – death – is used to convey a complex idea or scenario. 

You mention that you and your daughter are unusually close.  This suggests that your daughter most likely represents a part of yourself that is ready to change or needs to change.  That deeper part of you delivering the message is obscured, but persistent.  Perhaps you prevent yourself from hearing the message straight on.  So it comes from behind the veil, off to the side, but is louder and more insistent than you can admit.

Your daughter’s desire to move indicates that she’s ready to make the break – the normal separation of parent and child.  In that sense, your dream speaks to the change in her, the death of her child-like self making way for the young adult she has become.  It also speaks to your fear of letting her grow up and leave you behind – a death of your “friendship.” 

Your dream signals the transformation you must make.  By repeating, your dream insists that phase of your life is coming to an end.  You must give up the girlish view of yourself, Dear Dreamer.  It’s time for both of you to grow up and move on to the next chapters of your lives.  Look forward to a fresh, reborn relationship with your adult child.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dreams draw from deep sources

In the 1985 film “Back to the Future,” Michael J. Fox plays a character who has the delightful and eye-opening opportunity to see the “past lives” of his parents and how they affected their current circumstances.  In the 2014 film “Interstellar,” Matthew McConaughey’s character finds himself in a cosmic storehouse that seems to have past and present events occurring simultaneously.  If these seem like “only science fiction” to you, consider the experience of today’s dreamer.

Dear SMYD,

Work is killing me!  My workload is way too heavy and requires so much overtime.  Even when I don’t want to stay, my boss knows just which buttons to push to keep there after hours.  Truth is, I feel guilty when I think of changing jobs and leaving him alone.  Also, there’s a lot more I can accomplish there if I stay. 

Now, I’m even dreaming about work!  But this dream is different from the “average” dream!
I’m in a forced labor factory back in the times of Charles Dickens.  Everything is dark and dank and full of drudgery.  Somehow I’m myself, but I am different too – the father of a young boy who also is working under these unsavory conditions. 

I know I can get out and start a new life, but as I slip away, the boy looks at me and I am riddled with guilt.  I try to get him to go with me, but he refuses.  Now he’s loyal to the slave-driver who runs the place and “cares for” him.  He has turned my boy against me.

I wake up frustrated and beaten down with guilt.


Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t

Dear Damned,

Your dream has all the markings of what some call re-incarnational dreams.  The setting is of a time gone by and a place far-distant from your current locale.  You experience the dream from the viewpoint and even the body of some else, someone who is not necessarily the same age, sex or race as you are in waking life. 

But, if those ideas are too far-fetched for you, consider renowned psychologist Carl Jung’s description of the collectiveunconscious – a vast storehouse of information from the past, present and future.

Both schools of thought tell us that the wealth of knowledge gained from the experiences of those who lived before us is available to us in the present.

In either case, or if we look at this as a more routine dream with odd-seeming people and places, the message is the same:  Misplaced loyalty dooms the young boy – you – to trudge along in unsavory circumstances. 

The person who pushes your buttons and claims to care for you holds you in deadlock in your dream and in your waking circumstances.  He uses an exploitative promise of security and well-being to draw you back into the trap; he pulls at your heartstrings rather than by improving the circumstances to benefit you both.

Take care of yourself Dear Dreamer.  Fagin is not on your side.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dream Interpretation - Sex isn't always sex

Many of us have dreams about sexual encounters that we would never imagine, or even want, in our waking lives.  So where do these dreams come from and what do they mean?  The people, setting, relationships, appropriateness and emotions of such dreams are all clues.

Dear SMYD,

I am a more than a little embarrassed to send this dream to you, but I really want to know what it is about:

I dreamed I was trying to make love to my supervisorat work!  Every time I had him in my arms or near a bed, we would be interrupted or he was distracted or even disappeared.  The dream was upsetting and frustrating to experience.

When I woke up, I felt confused because as much as I admire and respect this man, it has never occurred to me to have a sexual relationship with him.  For one thing, we’re both married to other people.  But even if we weren’t, he’s 30 years older than I am!  He is patient and kind, full of wisdom and humor – all things I admire.  But I am not attracted to him in “that way.”

If I think of this dream at work, I can barely look my boss in the eye!


Embarrassed by My Own Dream

Dear Embarrassed,

A good place to start with your dream will be to recognize your supervisor not as himself but as a representative of the qualities you admire in him and want for yourself.  That might help you move past the embarrassment!  You mention several qualities you respect and admire in your boss – kindness, patience, wisdom and humor.  Are these qualities that you find yourself lacking in some cases, at work or at home? 

From there, think of the purpose or function of actions or objects in your dreams.  Most notably, making love:  Among other things, the act of love-making satisfies a yearning to integrate or become one with someone, or as in your dream, with the things that someone represents.   You want to become one with the qualities he represents.

In your dream, you and your boss are interrupted or distracted; he even disappears on occasion.  This could be indicative of your failed efforts to show patience or kindness when it is most needed.  Where in your life do you find yourself paying only superficial attention, or losing your patience with those around you?
Your dream includes your boss, but is it set at work or at home?  The setting of your dream can be key in clarifying where you need to / hope to improve.

Maybe you allow stress or the details of less important things to draw your attention away from key opportunities to be gentle with those you love.  Perhaps you’re not truly “present” for those around you, allowing distractions from elsewhere to intrude – too much time at work or too little recognition of the needs of your family. 

Be honest with yourself, Dear Dreamer.  Your dream brings you a persistent prompting to improve your relationships.

Sweet Dreams to You!