Three days into the new year, and I’m slowly transitioning from a place of wet marshes to an open space. I’ve been having dreams with water. One in particular was treading water with only my right arm which made me swim in circles in a vat. I ducked my head below the surface to look for sharks. What I found was a domestic scene: a kitchen with tables and chairs, and people occupying the seats. I felt afraid to look closer so I resurfaced, and found myself in a different room. I sat with a small party of three women. One woman, heavy and rotund was overbearing and directing the whole show. I finally got tired of her ways. I boldly lifted her buttocks off the ground to reveal her dirty underwear. I left the house, but to get out I had to navigate my way through an entangled web of fishing lines that blocked the door. When I got through by pushing aside the lines there was an open field beyond the door. The weather was cool and wintry with the sun breaking through a mild layer of fog.
I think people like to talk about their dreams, and beyond that to understand the underlying message(s) they contain. It is probably to spend less than third of our lives in a dreaming state (if we’re lucky enough to get the time to be in REM mode.) Could dreams give us clues and possibly answers to fulfill our soul’s needs and desires?
In the book “Care of the Soul”, Thomas Moore speaks that “Care of the soul requires ‘work’ in the alchemical sense… Sometimes, soul work is exciting and inspiring, but often it is also challenging, requiring genuine courage. Rarely easy, work with the soul is usually placed squarely in that place we would rather not visit, in that emotion we don’t want to feel, and in that understanding we would prefer to do without.”
Gee, I think that paragraph in the book describes the feeling of the dreamer – avoidance and running away. Revealing a life beneath the surface of the water – the kitchen where we gather to store away food and staples, make our meals, clean the dishes and hang around as in a kitchen party because it is the modern figurative hearth –the fire of the soul. Maybe, until I see what’s happening in the kitchen then I’ll continue go in circles around the heart of the matter, and never get it. Now I can see why I’ve been obsessed with matters of the soul.
“A dream may survive a lifetime of neglect or an onslaught of interpretations and remain an icon and a fertile enigma for years of reflection. The point in working with a dream is never to translate it into a final meaning, but always to give it honor and respect, drawing from it as much meaningfulness and imaginative meditation, not keep it in fixed and tired habits.”
“Care of the Soul” (chapter ‘Dreams: A Royal Road to Soul)
Dreams are images that encapsulate powerful doses of chemicals that motivate thoughts and feelings. A certain color, smell or sound evokes memories. I like it that I can still invoke a feeling of my mother’s closeness by the smell of her favourite perfume mingled with her natural oils. Overtime, my ability to recreate that fragrance from my imagination fades. Interestingly, I got her favourite scent as a Christmas gift for her this year. I need to sneak a bit of that “1000” onto a handkerchief and ask her to tuck it into her bra. This is how she use to stash away her hanky (or maybe her way of beefing up her bosoms.)
While my mother visits for the holidays, I’ve been struggling with past emotions that I’ve hung onto so closely that my knuckles are white and my hand feels numb. I recognize my need to let go. New year is a time of renewal. I wonder if it will ever be right between her and me, and it may never be right but only better and easier. I like this imagery from an Indian myth about Krishna:
His foster mother is told that her little boy is outside eating mud. She goes out to clean the mud out of his mouth, and when he opens his mouth, he reveals to her all the heavens and hells and gods and demons in himself. She is of course, stunned by this display, and her relationship to him would be pretty well damaged from then on if she remembered it, so he very kindly erases it from her memory.
– “A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living”
There is another part to that story, but I’m only using what is needed here for now. It is the kindness to erase the memory. As I move further out into another year, I need to remember to be kinder, and erase traces of the past that do not add to happiness and fulfillment.
(I’ve decided to forgo the sequel of Soul Work Part 1, 2 and so on, because soul work will be ongoing till my last breath. So I borrowed the title from a song by Todd Rundgren, “A Dream Goes On Forever”.)