Do you pay attention to your dreams? I hope you do. In graduate school I had to keep a dream journal for a year and I discovered what a wild and deep source of information our dreams could be.
“Dreams,” my Jungian analyst told me, “love to be stroked.” By that he meant that the more we pay attention to our dreams the more available they become to us. Dreams are the means by which the unconscious mind makes itself known to us.
In the past week I have dreamt about two houses I have loved and left: two different lives went with those houses in two very different countries. What those small houses did have in common was water. Both were very near or on water.
In the first dream I was in my English cottage—the closing on the sale of it is scheduled for October 17--- with lots of my friends and we were all dressed up. The cottage was crowded with people. In the dream I thought we were having a party but, as I moved slowly through the crowd, I understood that the gathering was actually a funeral. I woke up with a start and filled with sadness as I realized that the funeral was for the loss—the death, if you will--of my cottage and of my summertime English village life of twenty- seven years.
Could be I’m not so on top of this change in my life as I thought, if a house funeral is what my unconscious is serving up.
In the second dream I was walking toward my little cedar house at the end of the dirt road leading into the marsh at the bottom of Sagaponack Pond in Bridgehampton, NY. I spent fourteen years living there on the edge of Sagg pond overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I bought that house before the Hamptons became The Hamptons, otherwise it could never have been mine.
In the dream I walked down that familiar dirt road edged by phragmites and rose rugose in the company of a contractor, someone who was a friend. I think I was going to try and fix the house up, to get back into it. But when we got there, its dilapidation was evident; it was crumbling. The contractor gently pointed out the disintegration of the roof, the windows and the floors. He told me I would do better to tear it down and build a new house. Build a new house: the metaphorical message of the dream.
To that beautiful spot in Bridgehampton, clearly, there is no going back.
Sometimes the bits and pieces of the lives we have left behind cling to us like pills on a sweater, belonging, nonetheless separated. Occasionally our unconscious mind revisits places or people where or with whom we have left traces of ourselves. These two dreams made it clear that no matter how much I had loved them, both houses were irredeemable and something new must be created.
Have you ever left a house and a life within it the sense of which has burrowed so deeply into your psyche that it pops up in your dreams now and then? I'm sure that you have.
All I need now is for my unconscious mind, its wisdom so much more in tune with God and the Greater Reality than I, to reveal to me the nature of the home that I continue to seek. Then I will be on my way.
The sages write that the true home I seek is within me. Clearly I am not there yet.
Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at LifeOpeningUp.blogspot.com