Dream of Jacob painting

Landscape with the Dream of Jacob, by Michael Willmann (1630–1706)

Not long ago, in addition to experimenting with the practice of saging my house to rid it of negative energy, I started to keep a dream journal.

Those of you who have been regular readers of my blog know that I have weird dreams. Dreams where I’m running and a lot of dreams where I’m running in my underwear. Dreams of being in old houses with strangers, or strange places with family. We’re talking full length, detailed moving pictures in my sleep.

Long ago I started reading about dream interpretation but I never really kept a regular journal of my dreams. So a couple of months ago, I started writing down what seemed like random images that passed through my brain at night.

Let’s just say I should probably not eat before bed if I want to get a good night’s sleep.

I’ve been told that if you keep track of your dreams for a couple of weeks, you should start to see some patterns in the symbols and content that can then lead you a better understanding of what’s going in your life or subconscious. Or sometimes the dreams can just freak you out.

A few days ago, for example, I closed my eyes and as soon as I’d started to drift off a very tall man appeared, towering over me. Then he bent down and reached out a hand, as if to help me up or invite me someplace.

Sorry, I’m not supposed to talk to strangers. Especially after a witch told me that my dreams are my spirit guide trying to contact me.

And then there was that dream I had in which the deer heads on our living room wall were actually people in disguise, and when one of them quit his job as deer head on my wall, I kept asking, “Miles [he told me his name], you can’t leave! You see everything! What should I do?” (For the record, the deer heads on my living room walls never freaked me out until after that dream.)

A lot of the content of my dreams lately has focused on me striving to get someplace – to the airport, to the upper floors in a house, anyplace – with other people thwarting my progress. They go to the airport without me, leaving me to pack and check out of a hotel. As I start to ascend stairs, they call me back or pull on my legs to keep me from leaving. They distract me or ask me to do small things that become large projects until I can’t move my legs to even walk or leave.

The key, though, is that in a lot of the dreams I have a choice to move forward but don’t. I turn around, or I handle the mess left behind, even though I don’t necessarily want to. I’m thwarting my own progress.

You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to interpret those dreams.

But last night I had a different kind of dream. I had been asked to be in a wedding for someone I don’t know, had purchased an elaborate bridesmaid’s dress and had taken some sort of dance classes required in order to be ready for the big day. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, but I had been asked and so I did it. Then the scene shifted, and I was out in public at some event with a lot of people – and there was the wedding, off to one side, taking place without me. Someone with the bridal party – I think it’s the sister of the bride but these are strangers so I’m not sure how I know that – told me that the bride changed the wedding date and since she didn’t really want me in the wedding to begin with, she didn’t bother to tell me.

Uh, OK. Talk about feeling a little cast off and rejected, even in my dream. I mean, it was a ver elaborate dress and those dance classes were really difficult.

Then I turned around and spied some friends – acquaintances, actually – in a crowd, and suddenly I was sitting in a big cushy chair with a child. We were reading a book and the child turned his face to me and I could see that in real life, he is the son of a musician friend I met years ago, a little boy with Down Syndrome that I’ve never met but who I know by the photos his family shares on Facebook.

In the dream, we were just sitting there and reading, and there was still a happy party going on (the wedding was in full swing on the other side of the room), but where I am it was all nice and quiet and cozy. Then the boy’s mom came over to me and says, “Thanks for reading with him. He likes stories.” And the boy got up, gave me a hug, and then fell asleep on my shoulder.

Those of you who know me know this is a dream. Children generally don’t like me. Or maybe I’m not a huge fan of kids. Either way … dream.

I could interpret these dreams a few ways but a I woke up this morning, the realization came over me that sometimes when we try to be someplace we’re not supposed to be – whether someone tries to force us there or we just choose it out of obligation – we miss the moments of grace and peace we’re meant to have, and that maybe those people who are holding us back don’t really want us there – they just don’t want us to go.

Someone told me recently that wanting to stay is not the same as not wanting to leave. I think that can apply to myriad situations: relationships, jobs, where you live, creative pursuits.

But here’s the important part: you don’t really have to go anywhere to move forward. Who you are supposed to be can coexist with the you that everyone is afraid is leaving. They are not mutually exclusive or two different people. They are you, but you at different stages, you with different gifts, you pursuing who you are supposed to be, not some version of you that others want you to be.

Of course, I also dreamed last night that I was in a room filled with Indians who had been shot in the forehead with arrows, except that no one was actually dead. They were still alive, except that their eyes had little “x”s on them, like the robbers in “A Christmas Story” after Ralphie shot them with his Red Ryder, carbine action, range-ready BB gun with the compass in the stock (and that little thing that tells time).

So all of this dreaming may simply be cough medicine-induced randomness, since I have been doped up on codeine cough medicine for more than a month. Although I’d like to think that my subconscious has messages for me that my waking self won’t listen to, or that God talks to me in dreams because it’s more mystical. Maybe the cough medicine just helps the message get through.

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