Q: I remember that advice you gave about dreams: you said that when you see someone hostile in a dream, ask them what they want. Well, miraculously, I was able to do that last night.
This young man (my age or a bit younger) was throwing tin cans at me and seemed mad. I actually asked him what he wanted from me, and he said he just wanted a kiss. “That’s all?” I said. “That’s all.” So, I kissed him (not a particularly romantic one, just a peck). I thought he would hurt me, but he didn’t. Then I woke up. What the heck? What do you think?
A: Dreams are so interesting, don’t you think? So many volumes have been written about them, whole therapies devised around them, that there’s no way I can speak to all of that in this column, but I’ll do my best.
Dreams are unique to each person, no matter how many dream interpretation books you read. They go through us, through our unique viewpoints and feelings, then translate into symbols that we can understand. If I grew up on a farm, barns are going to mean something different to me than to someone who grew up in a city. They just are.
To a great extent, I do think that all parts of the dream represent a part of ourselves. Yet again, it is all about us! So if you dream about someone you know, you might want to ask yourself what that person represents to you. When I dream about one of my best friends Maggie, I know I’m dealing with a practical, earthy, very smart symbol because that’s what I think of her.
We get “clues” along the dream pathway to help us figure it all out, if only we take the time. It takes a little thinking and digging to get to that dream symbol treasure chest, but the rewards are a rich dreaming life with tons of juicy information to help us in our ‘waking’ life.
When we encounter someone hostile, say, a monster or mean-looking man, we may start running. Then the mean thing starts chasing us. We run faster and further; we keep getting chased, never able to get away. Has that ever happened to you before?
But if we are able to snap into lucidity—so that we know we’re dreaming—we have the opportunity to turn and face whatever is scaring us (or threatening/chasing us) and demand that they tell us what they want. That’s all they wanted in the first place, I think.
Do you ever find yourself avoiding things in your life that you think are scary? Do you ever “run away?” If you do, then those situations may present themselves to you when you’re asleep and can’t run away, when you’re a little more receptive to hearing, acknowledging, understanding, embracing, and integrating them. These things aren’t bad; they’re just unacknowledged parts of yourself. And they never go away – research shadow work for more information on that subject.
We are complex beings. We are everything: evil, good, kind, mean, selfish, generous, pompous, loving—the whole enchilada. The trick is to accept and love all those parts of ourselves, even (especially) if we think they’re bad somehow.
So, back to your dream. You say there was a young man throwing things at you. Not very nice. You say that he seemed mad, so you asked him what he wanted. A kiss? Doesn’t sound like that fits, does it? Love and connection and gentleness don’t come with a tin can attached; so, let’s go back a few steps.
Young male energy is very powerful (just ask anyone who has raised teenage boys). It represents burgeoning masculine energy, which is the energy that manifests out to the world, is productive, makes things happen.
We seem to be in a constant state of wanting/needing a blending of our masculine and feminine energies inside of us to bring balance and optimal power into our lives. We can’t be all masculine (think oiled up body builders that work out 12 hours a day and look at themselves in mirrors a lot, the ones who think self-help is a new protein drink) or all feminine (think spacy women who meditate and do yoga all day and speak in incomplete sentences, their eyes fixed on the heavens, and use words like ‘cosmic’ a lot).
Any kind of physical coming-together in dreams usually represents a desire to blend those two energies, so it looks like you’re moving into a more powerful time in your life, and that young male energy is wanting to join with you to help. But it doesn’t seem that you’ve been paying attention. He thinks he has to throw tin cans!
Have you ever noticed children that want something from a parent? At first they probably ask nicely. “Mommy, can I have a cookie?” But mommy is busy and turns away. Little Billy asks a little louder and tugs on her leg. “MOMMY, can I have a cookie?” Still no answer, until finally, Billy throws himself at mom and says, “MOMMMMMMMMMMY COOOOOOOOOOOOKIE!”
Now he’s not nice, anymore. He’s angry, and he’ll keep getting angrier until he’s been heard. But at that point mommy isn’t all that anxious to spend time with her sweet little angel; so, unfortunately, there might be a war—just like in your dreams.
If we think that all conflict is presented to us so that we might have resolution, we might approach it differently. We might also see that we have been given plenty of other opportunities for resolution before it has escalated to any violent point (think tin cans), but we still have time to turn around (like you did) and start the conversation.
How did you feel when you gave him a peck? I bet you felt pretty good that you were able to change the scenario and outcome of your dream, didn’t you? I bet you felt some kind of completion, or ending. If all parts are you, then you were—at the beginning—both you and the young man. You walked away a little, but then turned back to you and were able to form a complete circle instead of continuing away on a line, further away from a part of you.
Closing those circles is what it’s all about, coming complete circle to understanding and integration, to closure. You’re presented with countless opportunities to do just that several times a day. Are you up for it? I think you are, seeing how well you did with your young man in the dreamtime. There’s no need to run away.
As the scary man told me in my most memorable dream sequence, “No matter where you go, I will find you.” And once I understood that about myself—that I can’t run away from my life—my scary man has never come back to chase me. Hopefully, he will never need to.
You don’t need the dreams to show you what you need to heal. You can do it in your waking life as well. Again, it just takes desire, intention, and a lot of self-examination mixed with a dose of honesty and humor. Always keep your humor. C’mon, tin cans? You’ve got to admit that’s funny…
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