“Dreams are, after all, compensations for the conscious attitude”
I recently had an epiphany – an aHA! moment.
I went back over some journal writing and discovered that for someone who ‘preaches’ the Grace of God, I can be surprisingly un-grace-like with myself. I define Grace, in part, as the areas between the black and white, the areas where we cannot explain how or why God would love us, we just know that he does. The colour between black and white, for me is pink. My favourite colour is pink. Yet when I went back and looked at the way I view and interpret my own life I discovered that I am surprisingly dogmatic and ‘either/or’, very unpink!
My reflections highlighted that I seem uncomfortable with uncertainty. I guess I do like to know the outcome of something before I embark on it. I like to know where I am going before I set out on a journey – I mean how do you know if you’re there if you don’t know where you are going, right? I am also a perpetual student and so I value knowledge. Knowledge is something which helps me to understand the world in which I live, I use what I know to make sense of the world.
Enter … the unknowable situation, the frustratingly unpin-down-able-thingy-majig. I was gifted with one of these types of situations recently, where I couldn’t find any answers or come up with any explanations and I got really stressed and really unhappy. I looked everywhere for answers – I turned first to my guide-book the bible. I prayed and asked for answers, I tried to read into God’s Word the answers I was looking for. When no answers were forthcoming, I GAVE answers. When I couldn’t find a definition or a reason, I assigned one. And I got progressively more miserable and afraid, as I panicked about making the wrong decision based on an outcome I could not predict. ‘Consensus Reality’ this is otherwise called, ultimate truth – believing that there is a single, unified reality that we need to understand in order to behave appropriately and it can lead to narrow, black and white thinking and huge amounts of fear or anxiety.
Enter also, ‘The Tentacle Dream’… (The first thing I do with dreams is give them a name.)
In this dream I dreamt I was struggling to sort out a cup full of tentacles, (they looked like underwater earthworms – how’s that for a juxtaposition?) but they represented the problem that I was grappling with – of that I was aware. Behind me was a room full of books and lamps all randomly arranged on rows of bookshelves. They were every colour of the rainbow and beautifully bright. Whilst I was focusing on sorting the tentacles, the books and lamps were being sorted behind me into a uniform sort of way and when I finally turned around and looked, I was disappointed with how they had been arranged.
The tidying of the books and lamps BEHIND me really bothered me. I sensed that whilst I was worrying about the problem at hand, other things were happening of which I was not aware. And so in unpacking the symbolism of this dream I came to this understanding;
Books for me represent knowledge and knowing – learning. Lamps are about illumination, shining a light on a situation. Bookshelves are for sorting, colours mean awareness and consciousness and whilst I was trying to focus on my ‘problem’, the lessons of life were being revealed and sorted behind me. Jung said ‘dreams are, after all, ‘compensations for the conscious attitude’, and my dream was compensating for what was going on in my waking life – what was happening behind me whilst I focused on the issue in front. When I took the time to turn around and see what was
behind me, when I became conscious, then I started to notice the lessons. And the first lesson that hit me between the eyes was that life is not simply black and white (easily definable) and that sometimes living with the questions of life is just as, if not more important, than living with the answers – Jesus primary mode of teaching was to ask questions, he taught us by asking us and by encouraging us to ask questions ourselves.
I was seeing the world in black white, thinking that something had to be one way or another, trying to find the consensus reality, the fixed outcome. I realized that I was not comfortable living with paradox and with the words, ‘I don’t know’. My understanding of knowledge led me to think there had to be a specific outcome to every situation instead of just allowing the outcome to evolve over time.
I went to a workshop recently to learn how to think like a Genius. The facilitator was quick to add that he couldn’t make us into genius’s, he could just show us some common traits in genius thinking and one of the common threads of a genius’ thought pattern is that they ask big questions. When they think they have come to a solution, they ‘suspend judgment’ and continue looking for further revelation. There is no fixed point, instead there is a continual evolving of process which in turn warrants continued reassessment.
So, thanks to that dream, I have stopped trying to make sense of this issue in my life and have allowed it to just be, to be pink. When it comes to matters of certainty, I’ll leave those to God, the only, ultimate certainty or truth. My consciousness of the issue is enough, there is no right or wrong way to proceed, there is no consensus reality, there is no one way to look at life and the situations that we find ourselves in and I have found that realisation completely liberating. I will let life evolve as it will. I will
continue to learn so that I have solid foundations on which to make decisions, but
as Rumi said:’ Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment’ … and so I have, and
I am reveling in my bewilderment, my ignorance.
Ignorance is bliss … is it not?