Three Dreams: Social Life, Soul and Purpose

Three powerful dreams from the last week, that are all connected by feeling, sense, people and imagery. They’ve really struck me as very important dreams, coming back to this sense that I am at a critical hinge-point in my life. I have always dreamt very vividly, and for a while kept a dream diary, and analysed my dreams a lot (I also, at MA level, did a module on Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams). At university as a Sabbatical Officer at the students’ union I used to take over our morning meetings with my dream stories. I can remember dreams from 30-odd years ago as clear memories—Abbott and Costello and Frankenstein and the On Air Sign and the Cardboard Boxes and the Lobster; I dream of apocalypse, of school friends in school uniform, of the swimming pool with the shark, of Darth Vader as my father, of new loves kissing under table tops, of new worlds and compassionate aliens and of sentient Panda Bears getting their revenge on us humans for wiping them out, lots of Zombies, of fighting, always there is a lot going on in my dreams which feels very claustrophobic, I have woken up with sore ribs from laughing so much at my friend doing a news report off the back of an unruly donkey, woken up screaming from the demons trying to get into my house, sometimes can never lock the doors or windows to keep out the enemy, sometimes am in that same house with the deep level rooms that are filled with ghosts and which terrify me but which I know I need to face, sometimes the dreams are filled with blood and knives and attempts to defend myself and all I love, sometimes even the Devil turns up at the bottom of the staircase wearing sunglasses, saying ‘I lied’. And every now and then I’m flying, seated as if driving a car; and rarely, although never to be forgotten, I am playing football like a kid again, with a hope that the time for fun will never end.

The last three dreams over the past week have had a different feel. Gentle, in some way, but with their own frustrations and paralyses, but also some flirting, teasing, lightness, love, energy and strawberries. But in particular staircases, doors, elevators/lifts, and some form of new connections being formed as old ones are left. Most of all, they feel very much about Soul, about the relationship of Soul to the Social and to Social Purpose vs. Soul Purpose. Of finding what is quite deep down inside, and using that as a guide to living. So I thought I would share.

I. Last Thursday

This dream began with driving, parking a car, although it was tough and complex, but can’t remember much about this part. What I remember very vividly from this dream [I didn’t write it down at the time, I wished I had] was that I needed to get from a higher floor to further down in this big building (a college, school, university? I was on my way to teach) and I had a big open box of pens and papers, and the only way down that I knew of was via this long, very steep staircase, and so I began to go down it, and there were colleagues, particularly one, a woman, who I was helping out or doing work for, and that was good, she is one of the more organised of my colleagues(!), anyway, she was there in some way, and/but as I began to go down these stairs they began to get steeper and steeper, almost vertical, so the stairs started to become like a vertiginous drop.

It felt windy and outside all of a sudden, and I dropped some of the pens and papers and they didn’t clatter and roll on the steps but they fell as if down a great hole, vertically, a long, long way down, and I was holding onto the box of papers and I was holding onto the handrail and my arms were getting quite contorted and also incredibly sore and painful in their paralysis, because I was stuck, I just could not move, back up (I’d only gone a little way, less than a fifth) and I couldn’t move down, I was stuck and could see no way out of the situation—it wasn’t too scary, just incredibly frustrating and a little scary, I suppose, I guess I was very anxious, and I felt, even though colleagues were there, I felt very alone, that I had to figure this out on my own, I didn’t even know what I was going to teach.

[Okay: I had a magazine taster session at work that Tuesday coming that my colleagues had not given me enough information about, and I reacted badly, frustrated-ly, that I was being sent into a situation without knowing fully what to expect or was going on… but I also know that this discomfort with uncertainty that I portray, and feel I can get away with; at work, is a pattern in life that is far more damaging to me psychologically in my rounder life; that is, this dream is not simply about my job, but using the situation there as an image or picture puzzle to get at deeper meanings]. [Also, was this dream before or after my 20-mile fell race over two large hills where I really struggled on the downward sections… ah! It was before!]

So I was there, and it seemed as if I was stuck and paralysed on this staircase [which has ‘feelings’ and ‘atmospheres’ to very old dreams of getting stuck and being lost] it seemed as if I was stuck there ‘for a lifetime’ and unable to move or get out and simply being paralysed (with fear? With frustration?) when the colleague I mentioned before, the woman [I think it’s important that it’s a woman; a female voice, she has a very kind and gentle tone and manner] pointed out to me two other ways of getting down to where I needed to go. There was a much simpler, safer and less steep—a normal!—set of stairs on the other side of the building, not so testing as this long and vertiginous drop; and there was also a lift, an elevator, that went all the way to the bottom. And I suddenly realised, or rather admitted/accepted, that I knew these other ways all along, but had chosen the hard route, or what turned out to be the impossible route, because it had looked easiest to begin with—just straight down—and that I had ignored these other ways as too simple, not testing enough. [Could this be about my novel, my writing? I am carrying paper and pens after all]

[I shared this dream with my close friend K and her sister the day after. The day after I was walking around in a right foul mood… lonely, I guess, feeling paralysed and stuck. My friend’s sister said that the lift was a direct way down into the unconscious but was a route or method I did not want to take; but she certainly saw the dream as about a descent into the unconscious; my friend K saw it more as doing with my work, coming to the end of the process of writing my novel, through which I have felt incredibly stuck, at times, and unable to move forward, or more importantly, down, into the places where truth and integrity and honesty come from, but also hurt]

What was at the bottom? I looked down the stairs. I couldn’t quite make it out. But it was light, there was a light there which felt different [see end of Dream III].

II. A night or two later

I really wanted to write this down at the time and share it with the person who was central to the dream, but I didn’t—so the only bits of it I remember, really, were that it was people from the writing weekend I went on, and one of the group leaders was doing something, sharing something, and I was sitting next to one of the other participants and the group leader gave us all bowls of fruit to share, I remember there being strawberries, and myself and the other participant were paired together, and there was a feeling of nurturing and excitement. I know, that it is connected to the other two dreams—it was taking place with the same ‘feel’ to it that, in my experience anyway, characterises dreams as part of a chain of thoughts or set of images that link together across periods, in the same way that moods or emotions or thoughts can last over days (or months) in waking life.

III. Another night or two later

It was my birthday—there was, as usual with my dreams, a lot going on. There was a long weekend of partying. Some of it was taking place at the house where I mainly grew up in, at Woodside Green. The first night of the weekend (the party was three days long) was quite organised, with DJs and turntables, one of my friends from the running club N was having a go at DJing [I’d been out that night with the running club, good fun, a few drinks after our 5-mile race championship, I came home about 945pm really quite happy, socially, having had a good time] and N was mixing records together on the table where I used to spend my time writing as a kid. He was having a great time, the music was good, fun, like being in Ibiza, then I had a go, the party was lots of fun.

Then there was a second day of partying which was less organised, can’t remember much of this now, except there was driving involved, and I had to drive a truck or car and we were on dark roads, always busy, always too busy, chaotic, not really getting anywhere, going around a city that was, it felt, a little in the last throes of a party from which it would not recover (a bit apocalyptic, I guess.

Then a third day, which is the one I remember most clearly. It was less organised, there were lots of people there, lots of my closest and oldest friends, and a big group of girls, one of whom was an old girlfriend who was still my girlfriend [she emailed a few days ago annoyed with me that I’d forgotten her birthday, even though we split up years ago!] it seemed, but now we were outside the house (or moving from inside to outside) and it was all a bit disorganised and I invited everyone back to my from what seemed like a hotel because I thought people were going to turn up there and I didn’t want them to arrive with no party going on. I got myself and my girlfriend two whiskies to go back to the house with, someone at the bar (my dad? A boss?) said to us to stay, but I said we had to go because people would be coming back to the house to carry on partying, but it was also now I see because I was getting worn out, and so we went back to the house, and I think I was looking forward to some more quiet time and intimacy, but that wasn’t what happened, and so back at the house waiting for people and only a handful turned up, and it wasn’t quite right, so my girlfriend started calling people(?) and they came along, but still not many, so she said we needed to go out, and it was like a party town we went into, perhaps a bit like being a student again, and on the way out I sort of got (made myself) lost from everyone, and I stood by a wall which was like a little cavern, while the others checked out a particular nightclub, and I stood there and knew I didn’t want to go with them (R was there, it was a bit like his wedding in Thaliand) and so sort of hid, put my face down, hid my face from them, feeling both that I was being stupid and I should just join in, but also tired and worn out and not wanting to go with them.

And then a few strange things happened. One, they all came back out of the club, and then all my friends and girlfriend passed me in a line, they were lined up as pairs and I was single on my own, and they all walked incredibly mechanically, like a very strange graduation line [I went to my students’ graduation on Monday, or rather, I missed their graduation on purpose, to go and write, turning up at the end to mingle afterwards] mechanistically in fact, past me, on towards some other nightclub, and I knew I did not want to go with them, even though it meant being separated from them—and separated for ever—so I kept my face down. And when they were passed (past?) I looked around. The street was still really busy, a party street, and then these homeless (Brazilian?) young kids came and sat down next to me, and asked me about the cave I was standing in front of, which was really just an old disused part of town, and I explained to them, knowing but not knowing how I knew, that this was the cave where Jesus was buried and rose again, this was the point of resurrection, and I knew this to be completely true, somehow, and I think also sad at how this incredibly important place was now boarded up, lost [right now, wow, I feel like crying…] and just ignored, walked past by people in the world only focusing on their social lives. [I really want to cry]. And I knew I was past that point now. I knew I would be leaving.

And what happened next was this: that a little further along the road was a doorway to Boulder, Colorado, and I went over and thought, yes, I need to move away [Ha! Move away the boulder in front of the cave so the resurrected life can begin again? That I can be born-again?!] so I went through the door, but just then my girlfriend came back and said she’d always wanted to move to Boulder, but I wasn’t willing to let her through the door, and the people on the other side wouldn’t let her either, I had to go on my own or not at all, because if I brought my old life with me, there was no point in going, I would just carry on living the same, tired life, so I had to go, without even really explaining why or saying goodbye, and I went through, what I went through into was a strange kind of family shop, a family was there, and a family I already knew, somehow, and there was a young girl there, maybe 11 or 12, and I knew her, she was like a little sister, and I asked her how she’d been, and she knew me, of course, and she said ‘serious, I’ve been serious’ (and it made me smile! She wasn’t worried about trying to be happy or put on a face or mask for people) and I felt immediately comfortable [although I know—or is this simply a script?—that in real life, serious is a comfort zone for me, it’s how I am initially with people and then when I know people better I lighten up a lot, am more fun, teasing, light].

And then I was looking for somewhere to live, and it was in a house I recognised from lots of dreams before, a multi-layered house, or rather multi-levelled, but then it was not the house from other dreams [real dreams, years ago] because those houses were always haunted, there was always something in the basement I could not go near, that terrified me, always these terrible ghosts, and this house was not like that, it was the house of my friends Mac and Nic, and on the fifth floor there was an old, unused cinema that was being care-taken by an old colleague, Miles L, and he said, yes, there was the possibility they could put in a temporary bed for me there, and I wouldn’t have much to pay in rent, and I could afford this place (and my place back in Boulder… I seemed to have left Boulder now I’d moved) and Miles asked me if Richard knew about me coming up, and I said I knew Richard as Mac, that was all fine, and in fact Mac had already put a bed in for me beside the seats in this old theatre (or even old church?) and I felt, yes, this is a new life, simple, almost monastic, quiet, having left behind a lot of people (but not everyone) [I’d seen pictures of Mac and Nic in what looked like a hotel hallway, Mac pushing Nic on a trolley, having a lot of fun!; and also got a Linked In Request from Miles from out of the blue, Miles was not a close colleague or friend, worked with him 10 years ago… ah! 10 years ago, when I made the life decision to leave that job and begin on this new path…] and then this is where the dream ended up, basically discussing with Miles getting in and out of my new room, because this old theatre/church was listed and being cared for and restored, so there wasn’t really a straight way in or out of the building except by… an old lift.

An old life but… ha… I meant to write old life, but wrote old life instead. (Ha! I’ve done it again! Meant to write old lift…) So: an old life/lift that felt at the same time very new (new/knew?)… And I knew this was the lift that had appeared in my first dream of this series, the lift that I hadn’t taken but had taken that long vertiginous drop that paralysed me with fear and frustration, but I now could take that old/new lift/life really easily, and it felt safe and good and the right choice to get this lift, and I could go down as well as up in the lift, it felt safe and modern and good. And I felt that yes, okay, I’m ready now, I can live here simply, and make a new start, and the sadness of leaving people behind [the sadness of letting someone go, and letting my book go, have been paramount in my life for the last few months] was fading with the way the light in the dream was affecting everything, which was quite revenant/reverent (ghost-like? After-life like?) and churchlike–a myriad of all emotions–and it lit the future for me in a soft and gentle and calm and slow light.


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