Last night I dreamed that my hair flowed in long lush tresses, past my shoulders much like the look I sported through my college days. Gone was the blue streak that I now favor. Gone was the attitude. I was innocent and optimistic and taking on the world. Therein lies the power of dreams. They take us backwards, forwards, and upside down. Turned around and flummoxed. Frightened and ecstatic.
I once attended a writing workshop with a woman who confided to the group that she planned to turn her dreams into a novel. She had thousands of pages of recorded dreams. Thousands. She said that she knew in her heart that this was REALLY good stuff. Also part of the same group was a Jungian psychologist who was writing a memoir novel. It was this dream-infused retreat that convinced me to restrict my source material to daylight imaginings.
Even Jung, the grandfather of dream interpretation, would not have wanted to read the thousand page dream novel. Dreams do not make good reading. There, I said it. If you are keeping a pile of notebooks on your nightstand as fodder for your novel, consider these facts:
- Dreams result from our resting brain’s continuation of the day, problem-solving at the deepest level.
- A cigar is not just a cigar. Taken literally, dreams often make little sense. There are dream dictionaries for good reason; Jung was onto something.
- It’s all about you. Our brains care about us. Our problems. The storyline is limited at best. Boring.
- You may hesitate to edit because “that’s the way it happened.” It didn’t happen and any story requires a strong editorial approach.
- If you are Edgar Allen Poe, ignore above. There can be cosmic brilliance by artists of all kinds, not just writers, when they allow themselves access to their true interior dialog. Poe wrote of dreams and used them to inspire his hypnotic tales. Most of us are not Poe.
To go all academic for a moment:
Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse. Carl Jung
Last night, I dreamt my hair was long. Hair, for me, represents energy flowing from the highest chakra, strength for intellectual challenges. A few nights ago, I dreamt that I was caring for three birds, two cockatiels and a parakeet. Wings, freedom, flight. And perhaps lingering loss over Diva, my cockatiel of many years. When I wake each morning, before the crush of the information that fills each day, I consider my dreams. In the twilight of consciousness, I talk to myself about my life and the paths I am following. The literal does not serve me well. I won’t grow my hair long again. And I won’t write a story about birds. But, I may be aware as I create lives for my characters, if I start pushing my story onto them. They remain free to be themselves–bird fearing, buzz cut styled if that is who they truly are.
Unnamed Source, POE poetry