I admire those committed Jungian subjects who write down every dream they have, and amass notebook after notebook over the decades (or perhaps now, extensive voice memos on their iPhones), presumably to be pored over on rainy days, in a directed effort to garner meaning from the apparently random messages from the Id, which we receive on a daily or near daily basis.
I suppose there is a trick learned along the way to remember them. Just like there is a trick to trigger Lucid Dreaming, which worked well when our hearts and minds were young, but not successfully for me, anyway, for many years. Back when we were fascinated by the mysteries of the world, the trick was to simply find a hand (either left or right would do) in the dream. The act of finding a body part such as this will trigger the understanding that you are dreaming. This, of course, was borrowed from Castaneda and it worked quite well for awhile. There are other techniques these days. All I ever wanted to do was fly, and I had a few spectacular successes, but mostly got caught in the twigs and branches of my own doubts and fears.
Nowadays, when we leave our familiar surroundings, our comfortable beds, dreams ten to leave their mark a little more forcefully. And so it was recently on a trip to the lovely small city of La Paz, on the southern half of the Baja, tucked in a beautiful bay on the Sea of Cortez, that the dreams came one after another, too many to remember, or even count. You’ve certainly experienced those early mornings, where you drift off to sleep for as little as an hour at a time to one shocking dream after another. Here are two that I remember in detail:
47174: (not really, but how cool would it be to write down your dreams every day and have 47,000 of them to read/listen to??) …
I’m on the shore of a tiny pond. One of those classic ponds with a layer of tiny green algae across the top, cattails along the shore, and the nose of a bullfrog here and there poking out from the green carpeted surface. It would be a normal contemplative moment except for the fact that three our four large white rats were swimming around the surface. Yeah .. large, white rats. Suddenly, one of the rats disappears in a fury of splashing water and mud, gets sucked straight down, with the algae closing over the surface immediately afterward. That’s alarming, although what comes next is worse, with an enormous lumbering bear, covered with mud, still chewing on the white rat, emerges from the depths and heads straight toward shore, where I am standing. But I’m not alone as it turns out, because next to me is my father. This is a bit odd, since I rarely dream of him much anymore, but I’m glad he is there.
The interaction between this bear and my father seems to occur only in my peripheral vision, and so I am not clear on what is actually happening, but the result is clear. The bear lies dead before me in just a few minutes. I turn to my father, angry, and say something like “You didn’t have to kill him! There must have been another way!” No sooner do I make this pronouncement that the bear wakes up and attacks my father again. This time, in full view of myself, and my father refuses to fight back. The horror of what I am seeing rips me from the dream and I awaken, sweating and terrified.
Within minutes I’m asleep again, and this time I am entering a Home Depot. It’s not near my present home, but somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I can tell from the trees outside the store, as well as the smell. The woods around Seattle smells a certain way, and the smell was very distinctive. People are in the store and staring at me in a strange way as I enter, and I look down at myself and see why. I am naked except for a pair of ragged underwear and two long Ace bandages on my wrist and forearms. There’s mud all over me, and my hair is long, much longer than the way I wear it now .. and wild. I realize that I have to get out of that store and away from these people immediately.
I leave the store and I’m on a dirt road, with no houses and lined by the tall fir trees you see in that beautiful part of the continent, walking quickly. No cars come by for some time, but when I hear an engine behind me I turn to see a battered little Toyota something-or-other, driven by a young woman.
She slows, rolls down the window on the passenger side and calls out “Let me give you a ride!” I look at her. She has glasses, a long thin face, and long brown hair. I have seen her before, almost always in dreams with people who have died.
I tell her, “I don’t need a ride,” and I keep walking. She doesn’t leave, but follows me slowly, looking through the open window.
She says, “You need to get in this car.” I tell her I’m not getting in her car.
Then I say, “Look, what you are seeing is not really me. I don’t normally look like this. I’m nothing like this.” She looks at me and says, “Same here. I’m not who you think I am. ”
I am skeptical, but I stop walking. She pulls over, and gets out of the car. She is dressed in a flannel shirt, jeans and boots. I realize that I have seen her many times. She looks intently at me, grasps me gently on both my arms to keep me in front of her, and says quietly, “Look. It’s different this time. You see .. you’ve died. ”
A rush of energy sweeps through my body — a strange sort of electric and psychic energy and with it comes a half dozen significant vignettes. I see my kids back home, my parents in the upstate NY house, the nine acres in the Catskills with the half-finished lean-to from last year, my wife, my brother … and the emotion is swirled together with splashes of horror and fear, but the underlying feeling is joy and release. I have no idea what emotion is displayed on my face when she next looks at me, but whatever it is she recoils from it in sense of horror and repulsion. This does nothing to dispel the flood of peace that I next feel, a sort of syrupy warmth that courses through my being. This life now over, and long and satisfying it was.