Monday, November 20, 2006

Practical Dreaming #8 -- Dreaming the Future

Our dreams are full of information about our lives. Sometimes we are offered psychological insights into ourselves. Sometimes we will dream a deeper understanding of a relationship or a knotty problem with which we're confronted. Sometimes we dream the future. Sometimes these dreams of the future are warnings that allow us to sidestep peril (as one woman I know did: having dreamt a very particular tableaux that preceded her getting into a car accident, she took a different action in waking life when that tableaux presented itself -- the other car smashed up as she had dreamt, but in the waking event, she avoided mishap herself). As in Dream Theater, when we re-enact someone's dream in waking life, we can change the ending of a dream that is unsatisfactory. But of course we must first open to our dreaming, and then resolve to remember our dreams and bring them back to our waking lives.

As with any human faculty or talent, some people are more gifted than others at dreaming the future. I know dreamers who routinely bring back cues to their future -- or the futures of people around them. (A woman I know [whom I hadn't seen in six months] told me of her dream that I'd met my future wife. As it turns out, I'd begun dating her about three months prior.) I myself do not commonly have dreams of the future (although in recent years the pace has been picking up a bit) -- my talent seems to lean more towards being a scout or guide for others (in addition to traveling on my own behalf). But I have had blockbuster dreams about the future that have knocked me flat.

Traveling in Malaysia after college graduation (1988), I had an utterly vivid dream wherein I flew back through the night to visit the sweetheart -- my first true love -- I'd left behind (she had 1 year left at school). We had been writing letters back and forth in the 3 months I'd been gone and I was looking forward to seeing her in Australia for Christmas. When I flew up to her on the campus -- she was attending an outdoor concert of Javanese gamelan music -- she greeted me happily but grabbed my hand instead of embracing me and led me out into the trees that skirted the performance area. She launched into a monologue about how great our relationship had been for her after a number of failed romances, and how it had been healing for her to be with me. As she continued speaking, I sort of stopped listening to the words and heard the meta-text behind them: she was breaking up with me. When I hove back into my hearing mind, she was finishing up with "...but we'll be friends, right? Say we will!" I assured her we would and she hugged me sisterly-like and scurried back to the show, sitting down with her new beau (a guy I knew, actually). I staggered off in shock to find a restroom (all that astral travel and no potty-break, y'know?) but when I went into the bathroom the urinals were mounted on the walls and the sinks on the ceilings. Everything was utterly out of whack.

I awoke in a sweat, hearing the muezzin calling the Muslim faithful of Penang to the early-early prayer, and couldn't get back to sleep. So I wrote the dream down in my travel journal -- my first dream journal entry, although it'd be 12 years before I'd know it was such.

The next month, in Sydney, my travel-buddy R and I strode up to the house where we were supposedly meeting his girlfriend and mine. I hadn't heard from my sweetie since the week of the Malaysia dream, and was filled with misgivings. L greeted us at the door, giving R a huge hug and smooch. My girl was nowhere to be seen of course. L handed me a letter and I said, "I know what's in this letter." L couldn't figure out whether to be weirded out or consoling, so she just gave me a quick hug and led R off for some I-haven't-seen-you-in-four-months-sex. And yes, the letter contained the monologue I'd dreamed -- in content if not word-for-word. And yes, when I questioned L later, my sweetheart had taken up with the fellow I'd dreamed her with. Their romance began the week I had the dream.

Sometimes it's that clear and mindblowing and (nearly) immediate. Sometimes it's muddier and longer in coming to fruition. I dreamt I found a cat that had been hit by a car and the middle portion (side-to-side) of its head split open (across the seam of the mouth). About 9 months later my wife's cat Carmella was diagnosed with cancer in the mouth and throat. And 1 day short of the year anniversary of the dream, Carmella succumbed and passed on.

Not all dreams of the future are Things To Avoid/Fear. Right now, my wife is having dreams about the two of us co-hosting a radio talk show. She never seems to remember the exact things we discuss (though we discuss politics, spirituality, consciousness, culture...uh...everything) but when the show ends friends of ours tell us we were great. I have been sniffing around for an opportunity to get back on the air (I did a dynamite show with a friend of mine back in college) for a few months now; I am only too happy to change my dream to accommodate her dream. So of course, dreams of the future can plant a seed in our waking consciousness which, with proper care and feeding, can grow into a waking reality.

But first we must catch our dreams on the wing. Before you go to bed tonight, say aloud "I will remember my dreams" and hold that thought in your mind as long as you can as you drift down into sleep. Bring back the juice and gifts the dreaming has to offer. You can't be rich without them.

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