I’ve spent the last seven days in the trenches of a head cold almost-flu-like disease that Tin had caught at school and suffered one minute of a sniffly nose from and then passed to me in which it became the most infectious disease of the year. I told a friend of mine in California who is a life coach about my subsequent laryngitis and she said, “Laryngitis is when the words are blocked in your head and won’t come out.”
How appropriate that I needed one more reminder I’m not spending time on my book that I’m writing (or not).
When my hair started falling out in March of 2012, another spiritual healer type friend told me that hair loss meant humiliation and wow, how spot on this metaphysical reading of illness was back then because it had coincided with the loss of my work, my fear of losing my house, and not providing for the many animals and persons who had grown dependent upon me to perform like the one-trick pony I had become.
I don’t own any of these books that show the correlation between physical illness and emotional lack but when a friend was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, someone told me this illness is the manifestation of not having been nurtured. And while yes, I have grown more spiritual and metaphysical in my thinking of late, I still approach most of what comes my way with a high degree of skepticism.
Which brings me to dreams – my head cold led to subsequent sleepless nights as well as the neti pot becoming my BFF for days on end. It also helped me dig deeper into Rodger Kamenetz book, The History of Last Night’s Dream. To say that my and other’s dreams have fascinated me from time before time is an understatement. I have served as interpreter of many a person’s dreams. But a romp through Kamenetz’s version of why we dream completely changed my perspective on what it is that dreams are telling us.
I am haunted by certain dreams that I still can’t shake – the most profound being one I had in the summer of 2011 – a nightmare while in Spain that bordered on a revelation/hallucination/a work of art. I was in a small economy car headed across a bridge over water, when suddenly the stable bridge became a rope bridge that was swaying in a tempest, the entire landscape turned into Gotham at the Sea, with the white-capped waves reaching swells of magnificent proportions and the bridge undulating more and more until I got to a point where I could clearly see the bridge just stopped, ending into the storm tossed sea and a landscape of black and grey. I shuddered and backed up, putting the small car in reverse and cautiously headed backwards.
When I woke from that nightmare/dream I was shaken to the core. My natural dream interpretation skills kicked into action and I could have sworn that this dream was a state of the union. My job and livelihood was coming to an end. My foundation was undulating underneath me. And I saw no way forward. It all made sense to me then even though I still am fascinated by the almost immersion into a giant canvas painted in charcoal and ebony that I was moving through. I kept scratching my head about the end of the bridge – I back up. But why wouldn’t I back up, it was freaking scary to go off the bridge into the tossed sea? I mean, who would do that?
Towards the end of Kamenetz book I started to realize something profound. In many times of transition in my life and upheaval I have had a similar nightmare, one where I am in danger. This manifests itself into two different types of dreams. One is a dream where I walk out of my house and into the street at night, but suddenly I’m very far from my house, and the street is not just dark, it’s pitch dark and I am suddenly in a not good part of town and to get from where I am to home requires me to walk through dangerous areas and I am utterly alone. While the landscape of this dream shifts subtly with new geographies, the dynamic is always the same. In the other dreams, a more creative touch is applied as I am killed or about to be killed in a myriad of ways. One is I’m Princess Diana in the back of the limo and the limo driver turns out to be the killer who pulls over under a freeway and takes out an elaborate leather choking device and puts it on his arm like a tefillin and then begins to strangle the life out of me. This is only one of many ways I’m about to die in these dreams. And similar to the dark street dreams I’m on my own.
In Kamenetz book I found a key to get inside my dream and change that device. He talks about how dreams have a pathology and once you identify it, you learn more about yourself than most waking lessons provide in a lifetime. My pathology, I realized, was that in every situation where I’m in danger, I’m alone and more importantly, I don’t think anything of that being the problem. I’m alone because I never seem to call out for help, I never seem to ask anyone to show me the way out, and I always think in the dream that I have to figure this out myself or I’m doomed.
Just in this last week of illness and coming to the end of Kamenetz book, the worm turned in my dreams. I dreamed the other night that I had walked out of my house and was going to get something and then wound up on that dark street, in that bad neighborhood, only this one was really bad because it housed an infamous criminal and yet, the first thing I did was turn to a young girl walking her black lab and ask her for help. She smiled and said, “Sure,” and then she told me that she had gotten her dog from that very criminal and began to tell me the history of the neighborhood. She walked me home, and suddenly the dark eery landscape softened and became a place, a place I wasn’t scared to be in (read: because I wasn’t alone).
I went back to other dreams that have proliferated my nightscape since I moved to the Spirit House, where I’m holding children, babies or toddlers, or speaking to people with toddlers, and I came to realize they were all trying to help me learn more about myself in an unencumbered way. The child’s way is not blocked by the adult’s fear. These weren’t babies as in my wanting more children in my life, but rather as Kamenetz says in his book, the child in the dream is a gift who helps you learn your soul’s path:
… First you must encounter your predicament, and see your opposition; this is the first gift of the dream. Then you can find the essential image of the soul; this is the second gift. Finally, as the child you explore this imaginal space and learn from the archetypes; this is the third gift.
Seeing as a child removes the stacking fears that we as adults have accumulated in our life. Acknowledging and accepting, not removing or eradicating, fear in my life has helped me tremendously. I owe learning about fear to my being able to move up a rung to a level that still invokes a touch of altitude sickness in my gut, but each moment I am able to hold my eyes wide open for any length of time, I’m blessed with a view.
And this ain’t no ordinary view, people. Because this ain’t no ordinary life.