I awoke this morning without a memory of a dream. I love my dream world and pay close attention to how my dreams give energy and direction to my life. In fact, just last night I met with friends so we could share our dreams, something we have been doing for almost thirty years now. I left our meeting so full of images and inspiration that I was extra disappointed not to have remembered even a tiny fragment about the adventures I know I had while I slept.
I stumbled into the bathroom, then peaking outside I noticed that the clouds in the dimly lit sky promised a beautiful sunrise. I popped on my walking shoes and headed down to the headlands in town to start my day walking by the ocean. I was looking forward to bathing myself in those early morning colors as the sun rose. It wasn’t until I set off down the trail that I realized that I had indeed had a dream in the night but alas, on that fragile bridge that carries me from sleep to waking I had written my dream off as not worth remembering. Now fully awake and taking in the beauty all round me, I realized that when I made that decision I was still mostly in the land of sleep though I didn’t know it at the time. Now I only remembered judging my dream as inconsequential, too small to be remembered, and that sent it traipsing back into the blackness of the night.
In my dream group we had talked about how we sometimes struggle to remember our dreams and the frustration we all experience when we can’t. Sometimes it is like a faucet has been turned on and I am able to remember several dreams in one night. Other times I experience what I dub dream droughts when days and sometimes even weeks go by without any recall at all. In our meeting we voiced our sadness when we find ourselves in a dream drought and offered helpful hints to each other about what helps us find our way to reconnecting with our dreaming selves once again. I was reflecting on our conversation as I walked and then as if jolted from a bolt of lightning I remembered the astonishing event that had taken place the night before.
We had moved on from our discussion about remembering our dreams. The first dreamer had shared her dream and we were offering our responses in the way we do, imagining that we had dreamed that dream ourselves, and sharing what it might mean to us. Suddenly one of our members interrupted saying, “Lion!” There was a moment of confusion and then we followed his gaze and saw a mountain lion crossing the grass just outside of the studio where we were meeting. Hearing our gasps and exclamations, the mountain lion stopped and looked at us for a moment before walking off into the forest. We were stunned, some of us never having seen a mountain lion before. It certainly isn’t a common occurrence. When the mountain lion had disappeared from our view the room was electric as we all shared our amazement about what we had just seen. Then just a few minutes later, the mountain lion reappeared at the edge of the forest, surprising us once again. Time was suspended as the mountain lion looked at us and we looked at it and then it vanished once again into the forest.
We eventually returned to our evening of dream sharing but the magic sprinkled by the appearance of that magnificent wild creature stayed with us. We all agreed that it was a visitation of sorts, like a dream, a waking dream in this case, one we all shared, and then, like our dreams of the night, it vanished and was gone, leaving only our memories to mark it as having been something real.
In my book Finding the Wild Inside, I speak about our unconscious mind and our dreaming self as the wildest part of our selves. My encounter with the mountain lion made me reaffirm that I want to think of my dreams just like I think about that wild creature. I have so much respect for my dreams and the wildness that is their essence. I have little control over them. They aren't domesticated and that is the last thing I would want to do to them. They don't show up when I call or insist. When they do appear, I want to stand in awe, amazed that they reveal themselves to me at all. I mean really amazed, as amazed as I was seeing the mountain lion walk by. That seems to me a wise way to hold my relationship with this wild part of myself.
My frustration at not remembering my dream that morning began to crumble away. A new more compassionate voice showed up and began speaking. Perhaps it suggested, my dream like the mountain lion had just wandered off behind the trees, still there, very real whether I could see it or not. I did create my dream and whether I can put it down into words, I did live it in my sleep. It does exist and the energy of it is working inside me. Maybe my dream that morning, like the mountain lion, was being cautious. It just wasn’t ready to show itself more completely or maybe it somehow knew that I’m not ready for what it had to reveal. I saw quickly that it was time to let go of my demand that my dream be remembered, time to hand my dream recall over to a power much greater than my insistent little ego self.
I felt I could relax in that much bigger picture. After all, that mountain lion had returned, curious about us, showing itself yet again as it peaked around the trees as if asking, “Are you still there?” Maybe my dream is asking the same of me? It’s a big question. Am I there? Am I living my life in a way that encourages my relationship with this magnificent wild part of myself? Am I open to a moment of that wildness breaking through my domesticated little world, shattering life as I know it and birthing me into a whole new way of being? I hope so. It is my practice. I’ll be there again tonight hoping for another offering from my dreaming self, hoping for another chance to walk my dream back over that bridge and into my waking life. And if I don’t remember this one, I know that more dreams will come, more will be revealed, when I’m ready, when my dream is ready, when the moment is right. We will meet again.
This blog is dedicated to the healing power of nature and the arts. It encourages a different way of looking at the purpose of the arts in our lives. While we can all appreciate well known artists, musicians and writers, it is good to remember that expressing ourselves through the arts belongs to all of us. It is part of being human. The arts and time in nature take us out of our small selves into something so much bigger. We need this larger perspective to guide our daily lives. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, am a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist and am owner and founder of For The Joy Of It! Creative Retreat in Mendocino CA.