September, 2006

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9/1/06 - Title: "Brownian Motion"

Hundreds or thousands of tiny, newly hatched tadpoles, black in filtered sunlight near the surface, swimming in a small pond.

9/2/06 - Title: "What Will I Be (Do I Want to Be) When I Grow Up?"

There is a question about my volunteer work, not my present volunteering but something else, that I am not doing, at least not yet. Even in the dream, it was unclear what the other volunteer work was, but there was, besides the question of what type volunteering I was doing, also the sense that it was the wrong kind, at least for me. [Which raises the question, of course: "What is the right volunteer work for me?" It's an issue about which I've been thinking for a few years now. At present, my wife and I put out a monthly, online newsletter, I also help with KMFA fund drives, and each week I put in usually two short shifts of sorting, shelving, reorganizing book sections, and/or training new volunteers for the Austin Public Library. Have thought of adding some type volunteer counseling, pediatric hospital volunteering, "Storytime" volunteer book reading for kids, advising folks re personal finance, helping in a hospice program, or being a teacher aide for an elementary school, if any of those options might be available to me.]

9/4/06 - Title: "Staying Together."

I'm talking with a younger man who's been overseas or otherwise in some intensive encounter away from his wife and who is also a student in an in-depth program, perhaps post-grad, that was so occupying there was little time, energy, or inclination to also be working on his relationship - and he said for the first time he had not crammed for his finals but somehow he did fine and either sailed through, "acing" everything, or at least did well enough, virtually effortlessly, to pass all he needed to and complete the program - and now too he and his wife were working things out, if not always perfectly, but it felt like they were more genuinely engaged than they'd been in a long time, so he thought now they were going to make it, even if for awhile it had seemed they must be separated and perhaps divorced. The part about his profession was vague, but it seemed a combination of a foreign combat or occupation setting and yet also a pediatric clinical setting, in which he could see, hour by hour, that what he was doing would be making a positive difference.

9/5/06 - Title: "Not Getting Much Done on the Late Shift."

I'm talking loudly near a speaker-phone that doesn't work very well with someone, apparently a cop, who'd called about something unclear, as if he'd been listening in on my conversation with a White woman, dressed in dirty overalls and here working with me in a dingy repair or machine shop warehouse, when I'd complained about something or other, like lack of police presence in this high-crime neighborhood, when there is a loud "BAAM!" The man I'm talking to, a savvy, take-no-guff, competent Black professional, asks what that was. The woman looks at me and I at her, and at first it doesn't dawn on me that someone took a drive-by, pot-shot at us and the round must have hit the metal building, but then it does, and I mention it to the cop and go out to see if I can tell anything by looking. It's dark and raining lightly and there is only an occasional car passing. Nothing appears suspicious. I've been outside in the empty parking lot a little while when I realize it's kind of dumb hanging around in the open that way if someone has been shooting at us. A car pulls into the lot and a man (a cop?) gets out. I'm thinking he is either the person who was on the phone or has been sent by him.

9/7/06 - I discussed the repair shop and pot-shot dream (9/5/06) with the D. group last night. Several insights emerged:

  • My ego or persona and the anima (a co-worker, who reminded me of my wife, Fran, except in the dream both I and she were younger) are on an equal footing, cooperating there to do tasks together, reacting similarly to the gunshot, and, since the phone call was on a speaker-phone, both involved in it.

  • There was a positive emphasis on communication: my co-worker and I have been having a conversation; the cop could listen in; all three of us were involved in the speaker-phone call.

  • From the standpoint of issues resolution, it likely would have been better if the bullet had hit and killed the ego/persona, but all in good time. (The new ego/persona [resurrected] would then probably be more integrated, better adjusted.)

  • The central purpose of the dream setting is repair (of the relationship and/or of the dreamer's psyche).

  • Positive as this is, there is a dinginess or dirtiness about the place or on our person, that suggests a need for cleaning (healing, better diet, healthier thinking and feeling, removal of impurities, polarity therapy, etc.)

  • We are also being substantially distracted from our work (repair) by a variety of factors: the speaker-phone call from the shadow or animus; the gunshot; concern over what happened; and exploring the parking lot.

  • There is the suggestion that there is significant resistance to change. The cop is a representative of "The Establishment" or status quo and, though he feels free to spy on us (listening in on our conversation), he apparently is there partly to protect the ego/persona (which must ultimately integrate and accept change or die).

  • Nonetheless, there are healthy features to this animus figure: savvy, takes-no-guff, competent, and professional, and it would be best to "own" these qualities as already there in me, at least in the larger, more integrated self.

  • There are worrying indications of dangerous lack of awareness or even self-destructive behavior (i.e. wandering around the parking lot when someone may be shooting at us), and it would be well to watch for other "absent minded professor" tendencies that could endanger not just the expendable ego/persona but the rest of my physical health/existence as well.

  • The dream itself and its description are well written, almost like a film noire situation, that could for instance be easily dramatized as part of a TV series.

  • There is not particularly anything to "do" to make use of the dream. Rather, there is a need to simply understand that some of the feelings involved in change, from dream work, etc., are uncomfortable, like the sense of insecurity in the dream. They are normal and best accepted as going with the territory. One has a greater tolerance for such discomfort, whether that "excitement" is translated into anger, fear, sadness, etc., than is usually thought. One is tempted to try to shut down such feelings by acting out, running away, blaming others or a situation, addictions, and all the rest of it. The best thing to "do" is just observe and not get too involved in or identified with those emotions. One's capacity for accepting the unpleasant ones is a measure of the ability to experience the pleasant ones as well.

Here is a new dream, from last night: I'm at a small hangar for military helicopters. I'm one of just a few of my countrymen temporarily living among, or assigned to, a unit of a European country (Italy? Bulgaria? Poland? another?) There is some type war on, and today, or as soon as it is safe maintenance-wise, I'm supposed to fly a small helicopter from here over to where there are more of my forces, who are more directly involved in the fighting. I've been waiting a long while. It is clear this other country's people are fairly casual about things. I'm sure they are as determined and brave as anyone but they do not have my priorities. Also, there seems to be a lack of discipline. For one thing, there is squabbling of some type going on, and some are more involved in grumbling than in getting the helicopters ready. People are resting after their shifts, or getting food, etc., rather than doing much maintenance, repair, or re-supply on the waiting aircraft. And there are civilian wives and girlfriends here. I tell one of the other unit members something like "Look, I don't care how you operate here. I just want to get back to my unit." He directs me to one he says I can take right away. It is no skin off his nose if the helicopter is not really fly-worthy, but I'll do a pre-flight check as soon as I have the craft out of the hangar, but he insists I just take it now, notwithstanding that it must be first maneuvered out from among people, machines, and other helicopters that all fit snugly together in the very cramped hangar. I go to arrange this. As I turn away, one of the civilian women is too close to another helicopter that is being operated and worked on. A small explosion occurs in its helicopter cargo bay and something burns there very brightly. The intense flash sears her eyes as the helicopter turns in place at close quarters. She falls over in shock and pain, and the injury to her eyes is apparent to 2-3 of us around her. We assume she must be at least partially blinded. Regrettable as the incident is, there is nothing I can do now to help save the woman's vision. My priority is still to fly back to my own unit as soon as practicable. Clearly, though, this will be yet another delaying factor keeping that from happening right away.

9/13/06 - Title: "But where's the magic?"

I'm in several situations that require a solution/answer/wise response. In every case, the advice is contained in one of four thick, encompassing volumes of essential truths or ways of handling things. [I do not remember the titles, though I think in the dream they had them.] This is so much the case that it feels a little depressing or boring. Elegant and enlightened as the resolutions may be, always resorting to them seems formulaic, stilted, and joyless. Yet, since there can be no better approach to dealing with the otherwise puzzling, dramatic, disorienting, stressful, and emotional circumstances of our lives than resorting to one or another of the book answers, it's best to refer to them in every case. We have but to remember and follow the various sets of guidance. Then everything comes out the way it should. Even if we forget at first, we can then still go to the reference works. They have all the laws, rules, insights, or truths for living. When not in use, the books are visible [the covers hardback and each in two vivid colors, one, for instance, having large upper and lower blocks of red or gray] sitting in the middle of a short shelf, standing together by themselves, like any four big books might be, their bindings and end-titles out, looking balanced, authoritative, and heavy.

9/14/06 - Title: "What a Deal! - But, I Think I'd Rather Use My Discover Card"

Am at the end of a quite long, complicated dream in which, among other things, I am manipulated by an unscrupulous foreign doctor (Thai? Indian?) who is treating both me and my mother, as well as many others. He has an equally unscrupulous male assistant of the same foreign nationality. It seems we are in the doctor's country for treatments. Ostensibly, he is giving me a great deal on back surgery, or some other such operation I have needed [but don't, to my knowledge, require in reality], in exchange for keeping quiet about additional surgeries, on others, the charges/payments for which are under the table and so not to be acknowledged. I assume this is to help keep the good doctor's taxes low. Also, I am keeping his secret in exchange for his doing a fine job, for little or no fee, on an operation needed by my mom [also not in reality, to my knowledge].

However, I now learn the true cost of my complicity in these matters, once I am again alone with this most sinister physician: I am lying on a hospital gurney in his surgery, and he has just informed me that he will, whether or not I give my consent - which I certainly don't - cut out one of my eyes to transplant into another patient [who presumably is blind]. I am horrified, but seem unable to get away, as though strapped down or with the only exit from the surgery blocked by the doctor's assistant. "Well, what did you think," the doctor said, "that you could get something for nothing? At every stage along the way I asked you if all was well, and you agreed. Now it comes time for payment, but you object. Well, I'm afraid that is not good business, Mr. Wagner. Naturally, I insist that all my patients pay their bills." So saying, he closes the curtains in the operating theater and comes toward me with a needle and injection, which I assume will fully anesthetize me and put me to sleep, after which he and his assistant can harvest whatever organs they want, and then kill me if they choose, though, as he is leaning over me, already looking intently into one of my eyes (left? right?) with a very bright light instrument, I have the impression he really is "just" after the eye. [Perhaps "eye" equals "I" - the ego or persona - "one of my eyes" thus may be "one of my ego identities." Also, the ego, of course, does not care to have too much light shined on its less than sterling image.]

9/18/06 - Title: "As Yet Living Alone and On My Own"

As yet, I'm still fairly functional, but terminally ill. Whatever is killing me is also affecting my brain. My ability to think and remember are reduced, it being an open question which way I'll die first, mentally or physically. A few acquaintances know how sick I am and are even sometimes sensitive enough to ask the right questions and show concern, but mostly everyone, even these empathetic ones, are going on with their lives. I'm aware, as I see each one, that our time together is precious, that this could be our last time together. But I do not show much emotion or make it a big deal. They are not ready for that, and maybe I'm not either. I would rather, as long as I can, just go on with my life too. There is one couple though, the man like my [deceased grandfather] Papa Joseph, yet wiser and calmer than he, the woman like my [deceased grandmother] Mama Rose, and yet also like Christine [a dream group member], with whom the relationship seems to be mostly on an inner or spiritual level. With them, there is just a look in our eyes exchanged, that conveys everything (without the crassness of putting things into words) when we part for maybe the final time. There seems also an understanding among a few others that they'll check on me from time to time, but out of respect nobody is suggesting I go into a hospital or hospice. I'm as yet living alone and on my own.

9/24/06 - Title: "What a Way to Go"

I'm climbing through other people's rooms in a really, really big old house. Several of the people have already gone to bed. I am looking for or trying to get to a bathroom. I generally must go through a window or a door into a room constructed on a different level than the one I left, sometimes a whole floor lower, but sometimes only part-way, like one-half or one-third of a floor lower. I'm more likely to be going up, to get into the occupied rooms, and down, when leaving them for another room. [Where the heck are the halls!?] The people in the rooms/beds don't seem disturbed by my intrusions, just mildly curious. In other ways than the different levels, I need to be acrobatic or simian, at least at ease use (using) not just my legs but my arms, in this kind of moving from place to place. For instance, some of the windows into other rooms [Why not to the outside?], or things I must grasp to clamber on in, are several inches to a foot or two away from what I have to hold just before climbing into the new room. [There seems to be more to it than just finding the right place to me (pee), but the rest of the reason for my quest is unclear. I might have been looking for my room.] I recall seeing [my brother] Horace and that we say something to each other [but not what we say]. He is in one of the rooms I'd been about to climb into. [I think he might have been telling me not to go into that one then, that my niece, Virginia, was sleeping, or something like that.]

9/25/06 - Title: "Still Waters Run Shallow"

Allen is driving several of us [It seems several of us, in my childhood family, are with him.] in his big van [one he doesn't have in reality]. All sorts of natural obstacles keep us from getting where we want to go, or at least on time or without undue delay. In the latest example of the trip going wrong, the whole area where we need to drive next is in flood [the water not moving, though, just sitting on the land, roads, etc.] once we get there. In hope that we can progress anyway, since the van is large and maybe can be driven in the water. I suggest where to turn onto the next roadway. [It is as though I can see through the flood and tell where to take a right, though to the others it is all just a large expanse of shallow, brown water.] But we encounter a several inch high curb [apparently about 7-10 inches high, the curb straighter and higher than most curbs, which I believe are curved toward the top on one side and then blend into the pavement rather than having another side, whereas this one has two tall, perpendicular sides and a flat top, so it is a more imposing obstacle, more like a concrete railing or barrier than a curb, actually], and, in addition to uncertainty whether the van will be alright if we try to drive over the obstruction, there is the question of what it is a curb to. Might this be [as in the dream I now believe - though my better than others' underwater, or through from above, vision is no longer quite so good] just the edge of a big, but narrow ditch or culvert that the flood is covering, so that, if we go over the curb, then we could just get the van's chassis or body caught on or in the ditch? Or is this, as we hope, the curb for the side of the regular highway, and then if we go over it, we might be able to proceed on down the road, albeit at a slow speed [for we seem, from above, just to be in the middle of a huge lake, for the entire region is flooded about 18 inches deep in all directions one can look, though deeper of course in gullies, ditches, and so on]? We also are not sure if Allen's van can keep running. Big as it is, the waters could destroy his engine. Indeed, I wonder, even in the dream, how it has kept running through the flood waters up to this point.[Perhaps not coincidentally, in a sense my brother, Allen, who turned 50 on 9/18 this year, is taking several of us, from my childhood family, together to an event at a certain place and time, for we are having a family reunion at a central TX retreat center and are all gathering there, starting on 10/7, though coming (going) there from a number of separate places, to celebrate Allen's half-century mark. In a Japanese movie, I once saw a stunningly beautiful scene in which a train was shown riding on rails just an inch or two above a flooded plain so that, from some angles, it was as though the train were riding on top of the perfectly still, mirror-like water as far as the eye could see.]

My sister, Alice, who used for several years to facilitate a dream group, has provided the following ("not necessarily Jungian perspective, just what my intuition tells me") interpretive comments on my 9/7/06 dream, about being stranded away from my unit and trying to get back by helicopter when a civilian woman nearby is blinded by a flash fire in another helicopter's cargo bay, etc:

"You are being awfully hard on yourself, and possibly hard on Fran or some other woman, too, or perhaps women in general. There could also be some concern about the family reunion. Perhaps you just want to go and get your family duty over with, and you're a little reluctant about dealing with those civilian wives (including Mom) and possible girlfriends to meet. Your priority is to get back to your unit (your home) as soon as you can. You're uncomfortable dealing with a foreign country (a family that can at times seem foreign to your own nature.)

There's quite a conflict between your masculine, aggressive and assertive, and active self and your feminine which is a more casual, resting, nurturing (getting food), vulnerable, and receptive side that has the inner vision. You judge the feminine side as lacking in self-discipline, instead of seeing it as a purposeful balance for your psyche.

You could also be judging yourself for wanting more rest and healing time and wishing that your meditations opened you up to more enlightenment experiences (the intense flash), and wanting time for your Self.

You may be pushing yourself to maintain your health, and feeling bad about not maintaining your ability to operate your vehicle (the helicopter = the body) with as much confidence as before.

Are you afraid that if you let your guard down and get too close to where it's burning brightly, that you will be blinded by the light? Could you be preferring the security of the rational, practical view of Life, Death, Existence... so that you won't risk injury?

Another interpretation is that you've been hanging out in a hell of sorts (and that our world has been in hell militarily!) (hangar, HELicopters).

Also, as you were sleeping, you could have been having an out-of-body experience that felt more hellish than heavenly, and your main priority was to get back inside your body(the unit) and wake up, open your eyes (but frustrated because this was taking so long, and you were feeling blinded while your eyes were shut, sleeping and feeling unsure about the "ride" since you hadn't gotten the pre-flight check)! (Maybe you hadn't gotten "grounded" before flying off to the dream world.)

My last interpretation is about your health and a fear of doctors and operations, and the "foreign country" that is a hospital.

The unit could be about a unit of blood, or the hospital unit, in quarters too close to other bodies for comfort. This is about your immune system (the feminine, receptive, sometimes injured side that wants to LOOK out for you.) "Look, I don't care how you operate here. I just want to get back to my unit" (alive!) You don't trust the surgeon ("It is no skin off his nose...") but it IS the cancerous skin off your own nose.

While you're about to be operated on, staff members are just squabbling about getting enough rest after their shifts. They don't seem to care enough about your maintenance!

Also, you don't like it that the surgeon insists on taking it out now - instead of waiting to see if the skin cancer really is that big a problem. This is taking place inside a hangar - an opening, like a mouth or a stuffed up nose. You're uncomfortable about the machines, people, maneuvers, and the whole operation of having to fool with a hospital (or even dental office) experience."

9/27/06 - Title: "Beginning a New Role"

I am, on the one hand, feeling overwhelmed and, on the other, carefully, conscientiously thinking things through to be able to do what is necessary, as I assume my new duties. [In the dream it seems I am starting to take on duties like my Cousin Conrad's, as a physician, though, in reality, I have only a masters degree. Conrad and I have also shared duties as estate executors, however.] My Uncle Conrad (Randolph) [age about 92, if still alive, but his son, Conrad, refuses to let me know how his dad's doing, since almost two years ago, or even if he's died - though I'd been keeping up pretty regularly with Stephanie, Conrad, Kim, and Randolph over the years, he notified me of his sister's, my cousin, Stephanie's, death only by an e-mail from his (Conrad's) son, a week or two after she had died - there was no memorial service or funeral - and it was more or less the same for their mom, my Aunt Kim, when she died] is vaguely about (around). Cousin Conrad is at first just vaguely around as well and has a sarcastic, superior attitude, apparently jealous of any relationship I have or had with his dad, Uncle Conrad (Randolph), but also feeling I'm not smart enough to be a doctor, like him. [I'm not!] Yet, as I am starting doing my new duties, Cousin Conrad (Uncle Randolph) shows up briefly and, though he warns me not to forget this, not to forget that, and not to be frivolous, that this is really important work upon which I'm embarked [these counsels from him, however, seeming not patronizing but solicitous, protective, the way a caring relative might impart advice when a loved child or nephew is about to "make good" at something significant, really sort of getting his feet wet in a major way for the first time], then, to my surprise, gives me a warm hug [unlike him], says he knows I'll do well, and not to forget along the way to have some fun [also not like him particularly] too in the midst of work serving others. Conrad is nearby, sneering. I'm feeling unsure, wondering if people will cooperate when I say what has to be done, yet, as if for the first time, grasping the big picture, if only briefly, and thinking, this must be what Randolph and Conrad [both really smart] have known most all the time. [That is, a kind of intellectual power, that permits seeing the whole story and doing complex things at once - "at once" in both the immediately and multi-tasking senses. Apparently, from the confused way it was written, there is a good deal of blend in my mind between the roles of Cousin Conrad and Uncle Randolph, though both were present to some extent, the one in a superior, judgmental way and the other in a paternalistic, yet caring way.]

9/29/06 - In the dream group meeting last time, I mentioned the other dream references to possible health problems or death in my mom's imminent future, since it related to one aspect of the dream of 9/25, but I mainly concentrated on that dream of the shallowly flooded plain and the van driven by Allen, which encountered the curb or railing or rail and could go no further. Insights gleaned from the ensuing discussion:

  • The dreams do not predict any serious illness or death of my mom. She may or may not have an illness in the next few days or months, yet the dreams are not about her, but reflect some issues within me.

  • My own anima self, which would ideally be nurturing, receptive, intuitive, expressive of emotion, etc., in a healthy feminine aspect, is instead modeled on a distorted persona, manic-depressive, competitive, tending toward alcoholism, full of her judgments and grievances, driven, perfectionistic, controlling, aggressive, and, at least at night, often lonely and feeling friendless, without the inner resources to rise above her felt situation. In some ways, she has taken on the male persona, and so is not a good model for me of the feminine aspect in that way as well.

  • She likes to cast her male offspring in the role of "mama's boys" and have them relate to her in that way.

  • The male shadow self, or animus, in this case is represented by Allen who is both very passive and nurturing. He too easily lets others walk all over him, taking him for granted. He is also immature, whiney, and peevish, too preoccupied, hypochondriacally, with his physical health, easily stressed out, etc. Yet he is a very nice guy, has a good sense of humor, meditates a lot, is strictly vegetarian, is easily liked by several who know him, as at work, etc., though he has taken on some aspects of the feminine persona. He also is a pretty good handyman, smart, makes plenty of money in his career, and regularly lands on his feet if there are problems. He's not good with money and certainly not good with managing to get his wife (who loves to spend it) to be reasonable in not taking advantage of him. Yet he has enough funds available that somehow, so far, it all works, even if he must work or do childcare all his waking hours, and indefinitely into the future, with no hope of ever retiring.

  • With that combination of female and male inner selves, at least as demonstrated in recent dreams, there can be significant gender identity problems, a tendency to do a lot rather than dealing with negative feelings, a proneness to alcohol or other addiction difficulties, and a lack of healthy self-nurturance.

  • The flood is at once the emotional potential, the spirit, and the unconscious.

  • 18 is the I Ching symbol for spoiled goods.

  • The flood is also what is left over after the (emotional) tempests of my younger years, when I was so wrought up for so long and/or so often that I alternately wanted to kill my (physically and emotionally abusive of his family [including me, my siblings - of whom I had felt protective - and Mom]) dad or myself and hence tended to swing between almost murderous rage and suicidal depression.

  • I had other difficulties with Mom, so that the relationship with her also was not so positive.

  • I have been either detached from my strong feelings (both good and bad ones) or suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (or both) since getting enough distance (or perspective, or whatever) to no longer be as "rawly" involved in that kind of emotional turbulence.

  • There is a great deal of grieving and suppressed anger that I am trying to curb, although the inclination is to rail, or toward railing, about them. The result of the obstacle to feeling my negative emotions is that I am relatively detached from either negative or positive feelings.

  • There is a temptation to settle the problems with a Zen-like distancing of myself from involvement, by means of which I can see the beauty or meaning in situations without their really touching me deeply. I am thus a good observer, perhaps, but do not truly have a life in my own right.

  • There may be a tendency to distract myself from unpleasant real feelings with a lot of doing or intellectual pursuits.

  • The prescription, for now, is similar to what has been advised before: to get better immersed in my grief and anger. Yet there is no need to act them out or even express them to others, simply to become more and more aware of them as and when they occur, and more accepting of them as emotions I can bear, that need not be seen or felt as part of any crisis, but, instead, as part of the healing process.

  • Once having gotten better in touch with my feelings, painful though they may be, there is the possibility of also getting more in touch with what makes life worth living.

  • In the process, one may develop more empathy for what others are going through, and hence more tolerance with their struggles, foibles, etc.

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