Through a Jungian Lens

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Trying to Stare Down a Dream

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Flying high, yet grounded

I took this photo this morning in downtown Calgary. It was a curious early morning. While I was taking a pause for a coffee between train and bus, five fire trucks pulled into the scene outside of the window and there emerged quite a collection of firemen in full gear with oxygen tanks and extra hoses and carrying axes. They seemed to be heading to a place that seemed to be next door to the coffee house. As the customers curiously went to the door and front windows to see what was going on, I continued to write in my journal, a practice that I have adopted before completing the journey to my guide’s home and office. It wasn’t too long before it was evident that there was no fire nearby and soon the scene returned back to normal. Leaving the coffee house to catch my bus, I stopped long enough to take this photo of a building only a block or two away. I liked how the light was glittering like gold on the building and some of the windows, a nice contrast to the areas still in shadow.

As usual, analysis picked up in a look at a dream. This morning the focus was my dream of earlier in the morning. I woke just before 5 this morning and wrote down my dream, the first half of which I will bring here in order to look at it with you:

. . . it is as if I am with a few people, not many, with them, but not really “with” them as it is more like we have been thrown together regardless of whether or not we want to be together . . . I can’t see any of these people clearly though I do see that one of them has just obtained the rights to one planet which is pocked with huge holes which seem to be old mining pits . . . he is going to be having huge boxes transported to these pits and then having the boxes covered with material (rock, etc.)  so that it would be unlikely that the boxes would ever be discovered . . . the boxes contain dead people, murdered people . . .  (rgl, Journal, March 2, 2012)

Now before I go any further, it is important to note that every element of the dream, people and things, are all aspects of myself. Even when a known face appears in a dream, that face is really just a pointer to some vital piece of understanding of my self. Dream work begins with looking at the “affect” that the dream brings to my consciousness – how am I responding to the scene in terms of “feeling.”  Robert Bosnak, author of many books including a tiny book I own called, A Little Course In Dreams, has captured well what I felt upon first noting the dream:

My first reaction after listening to a dream is, “I haven’t the faintest idea what this dream is about. It proves that dreams are pure nonsense – or maybe my comprehension is just not up to the complexity of the dream world.” At such a moment I feel like a charlatan, an interpreter who hasn’t mastered his languages, a con man. In short, I feel terribly inferior.” (page 49)

This is where I found myself when I first wrote it and then read it to my guide. I am a therapist and I should know at least something, feel at least something rather that just see the dream as nonsense. But then when my guide asked me, “What did you feel? How are you feeling NOW?” It wasn’t really much, two tiny little questions that I was about to dismiss when I realised that I did feel something – NOW. I could feel disgust with the attempts to bury a crime, to dismiss so lightly the death of what had once been alive and thriving. I was also angry that the evidence of the crime was to be buried so far away that there would never be a chance to find the evidence and bring justice to the murdered and his victims. It was a start. Though I spoke those words, I realised that there really wasn’t a murderer getting away with murdering people and disposing of their bodies as if I were some clairvoyant hired to solve a crime.

People weren’t being murdered and hidden away so far that they would never again see the light of day. So what was my psyche, my shadow trying to tell me about me? What was being murdered, what was being boxed, what was being buried somewhere in outer space? I wasn’t able to answer this yet, perhaps I wasn’t willing to answer this.

My guide was astute to realise that I was holding back – it was there in the pauses and the body language. He asked me if I really wanted to find out what was in those boxes, find out what was murdered (or about to be murdered). What was I trying to bury so deep and so far that it could never be brought back to attention? Of course an answer wasn’t really expected at that moment. I had time to think about it as we continued on with the second half of the dream which I haven’t included here as this post only concerns this first half.

As the last minutes of our time together approached, my guide made a comment: ‘You realise that you just travelled halfway around the world, have rented a place and are paying good money for my services. Are we just going to visit and talk psychology and only look at the surface of things?” Ouch! How about that for brutal honesty!

I took a moment before responding that I made the journey with intentions to get out of the box(es) within which I had trapped myself, boxes which were suffocating me.

He then served notice, ‘You realise that if we open these boxes together, we can’t put anything back in and close it up again? Are you willing to risk, to take this risk that will forever change you and your relationship to yourself and the world?’

Taking a deep breath, and quietly letting it out, I said I was willing as I really had no choice anymore. And so, we continue this shared journey next Monday morning.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I want to add a few more words. The dream was serving notice to me, telling me that if I didn’t act, a significant part of who I am will be forever dead and buried. That message was reinforced by the appearance of the fire trucks while I was having coffee. The firemen were engaged in either a training or false alarm – a warning to them to be ready – a warning. And I do get the message. This is for real, this is for keeps.

A final note. Writing this post too a lot of time which is unusual for me. Between the start of writing the post and these final words I have meditated, gone shopping for groceries, peeled carrots and potatoes, cut my finger while chopping up the veggies in preparation for the supper meal which is still about two hours away – all delaying tactics hoping I would change my mind, or better yet forget about it, bury it and box it away, hide that box as far away in some tower or attic as possible. But rather than being a passive observer like the ego self in the dream, I resisted disengagement and made this post happen in this way. This war is going to get messy, very messy indeed.

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One Response

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  1. Gracis for sharing, as always. I like how there was a kind of synchronicity between your dream and the fire truck seen afterwards in life. I need to keep a note pad handy at night to recall my dreams better. Nice picture.

    Peter S. Lopez

    March 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm


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