Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Improbable Dream

I dreamt last night that my mother told me she had asked my father for a divorce. An improbable scenario. First, both my parents died more than a decade ago. They had been married for more than sixty years and, while my mother once confessed that things had not always been easy for her in their marriage, they came from a generation and a culture in which divorce would have been inconceivable. My father, as I mentioned recently, was an Anglican minister, and my mother was the daughter of a minister of the Church of Wales.

So the dream was clearly not about my parents. As with most dreams, I'm taking a wild guess that it was actually about myself. With no divorce on the horizon--Ellie and I have been together for more than thirty-five years--there has to be some other answer to the puzzle. I do believe that dreams come along to tell us something, they are not just random nonsense. Here's my thinking: I believe, with C.G.Jung, all of us have a masculine side and a feminine side, and my own interpretation of the dream suggests that here was my feminine side (mother) telling my masculine side (father) to get lost. Perhaps it's my more intuitive self rebelling against that rational authoritarian who spends his time telling her how to live her life.

The dream may also be related to the book I'm reading. Awaiting a trip to the bookstore to replenish my summer supply, I picked up a copy of Jeanette Walls's The Glass Castle which Ellie had borrowed from friends. I was soon hooked on this remarkable story of a child growing up with unbelievably impossible parents--an alcoholic dreamer of a father whose get-rich schemes lead inevitably to disaster, a brilliant tinkerer and rationalist; and a scatterbrain, would-be artist mother whose rampant narcissism and dedication to "adventure" results in an airy neglect of her children and their needs. Notwithstanding the dreadful abuse and the rootlessness as the family struggles to stay one step ahead of police, penury and ruin, the children benefit in unexpected ways from what love and attention their parents manage to spare them. They learn a fierce spirit of independence and creativity from their mother, and a keen understanding of the workings of the universe from their father's scientific bent.

And we readers learn a lot about the resourcefulness of children. So far as I've got in my reading of the book, they have survived. More about this, perhaps, as I get further into the story. But you can see how it might provoke an improbable mother-and-father dream...


Cardozo said...

Perhaps divorce is such an intense and painful concept because of the dreadful weight of unfulfilled expectations.

Perhaps we are better served not to enter into any contract creating such profound expectations. With expectations absent, choosing to be with someone day after day takes on an intensity and vitality that COULD encourage constant growth and discourage narcissism, no?

Isn't marriage, too, somewhat contrary to Buddhist precepts of focusing on the present moment?

robin andrea said...

I think I have settled upon the idea that dreams really are really random images, but that we supply the narrative as we tell the story. I've noticed that in telling sometimes, I say, "suddenly I was someplace else, and something else was going on." Then a new narrative begins. I've also believed that dreams are narratives from our subconscious. Either way, I think our interpretations of the dream are always about where we are at the moment.

LB said...

I think that the interpretation we bring to the dream, as well as the emotional connection we have to it is as important as the dream itself.

Themindtaker said...

Oh man, I'd say the majority of people I know will start talking your ear off when the topic of dreams comes up. While I think it'll always be more or less impossible to say what dreams really "mean" (if anything at all) I always find dreams to be a fascinating opportunity to examine something that came out of you without passing through the filter of your rational brain.

So as such, it makes perfect sense that your intuitive (feminine) half would campaign for itself in it's purest medium. :)

Being a film student (and since film students fancy themselves philosophers) I've had many a fascinating discussion about how humans perceived their dreams before the popularization of the film medium, seeing as how people usually describe their dreams the same way they would describe a movie they once saw. Fun stuff.