Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dream Reflection: Exploring the Dreamscape and its Figures (the Dreamer)

A few nights ago I dreamt that I was a little boy again. I was on a large sports field, which seemed to be surrounded by other fields beyond which I think was a forest, or at least many trees. As a little boy in the dream (first-person), I had a friend with me on the field—a little girl. We were the only two people present.

Everything I have thought about since the dream has probably reshaped my recollection, that is, changed the way I presently look at it (as opposed to the way I first experienced it); though I hope enough of its essential features remain for a relatively honest, in-depth reflection, which I will now write.

I remember next to nothing about this dream other than the aforementioned dreamscape, the fact that there was a little girl there with me, and perhaps most importantly the intense feelings I experienced both during the dream as well as retrospectively, concerning the figure of the girl and the environment. I was very fond of the girl; she was extremely benevolent in ways I cannot describe through any of her actions, seeing as there were no such actions— at least any which were retained in my memory upon waking. There was something pure and fascinating about her; she seemed to emanate, evoking feeling from me without really doing anything. The fact that I somehow knew I was a little boy again in the dream, as opposed to the adolescent I am in waking life, makes this facet of the dream even more enigmatic.

I’m fairly sure the dream came to me in first-person, i.e. through my own eyes as a little boy in the dream. The girl was sitting somewhere around the middle of the field, I think. I am unsure whether any contact was made at all, really; but the impressions I received from the girl were strong both during the dream and when I awoke, and remain with me even now. She was a force I could trust; a guiding and benevolent figure, there to let me know that things were alright and that there was nothing to worry about (“benevolent” is the word that came to mind immediately after recalling the dream, and so will be used inordinately throughout this reflection). There isn’t much more I can write about her exact character, as there isn’t much other than how I felt. With this in mind, I came to look at the little girl as some aspect of myself, seeing as her presence alone evoked such intense and unambiguous impressions from both the little me in the dream as well as from my waking, reflective self. For that matter, the “little me” in the dream can also be viewed as an aspect, too, as will be later speculated.

It can only be assumed that this figure, the little girl, is, in some sense, a part of me; obviously a product of my mind. This is more or less undeniable, even under paradigms like Jung’s where the collective unconscious can produce archetypal dream figures, common the world over. The latter are still products of one’s own psyche; they merely contain ubiquitous archetypes which fit into collective templates, which relate to the individual in important ways anyway. Anyhow, I think it is fair to say that, at least for the purposes of this reflection, the girl was indeed some amplified aspect of myself (or more than one, combined?)—and that this also applies to the child version of me, through whose eyes I experienced the dream. (What I think is contentious is exactly what “an aspect” of oneself is; the idea is widely interpretable, and so a lengthy discussion on this notion will, for now at least, be avoided. Hopefully the way the idea is used in context here will give an idea of what such an aspect could possibly be).

So, in this light, who really is the little girl and what does she symbolise? I was interacting with an angelic, amorous, utterly benevolent and benign figure in this dream, who made me feel safe in some very intense way, even in waking life (the feelings, like many dreams, emanated into my waking life, and even now I can incite a nostalgic, peaceful feeling, just by recalling the dream and, particularly, the figure of the little girl).

In Jung’s paradigm, the function of dreams is compensation; that is, dreams compensate for psychical forces which lack in waking life, forces which work to bring equilibrium to the psyche, or healing (much like a wound works at healing itself after the damage has been done). Generally speaking, the little girl could represent some part of myself that is lacking, which, in this case, would seem to be a benevolence towards others, or perhaps even a benevolent attitude toward something within myself. It could indeed be that I lack a certain benevolence towards others, which in turn suggests a lack of benevolence towards myself which I merely project onto others.

But of course, there is more to be observed here, and even such speculative conclusions might be a little premature (but interesting, nonetheless).

The dream, first of all, takes place in a vast green sports field—rectangular, if I remember correctly (which is now almost impossible to say for sure). I get the feeling there may have even been soccer goals at each end (the idea of competition?). Anyhow, this vast, green expanse was surrounded by other vast, green expanses. So, it can perhaps be said that we—the little girl and my “little self”—are “out in the open”. We are exposed and visible. There is nowhere to hide, because even the thresholds of the outer fields are quite far away; and beyond them, of course, are the “dark woods” (the trees, of course; but for the sake of speculation and reflection, they can be seen to represent the archetypal, ubiquitous forest: the unlit, unknown region of oneself). I name them so certainly due to my influences from dream interpretation literature (notably and obviously Jung), but also because I am convinced of the idea that dark forests, in some sense, appear ubiquitously as “nether-regions”; places where people are generally frightened to go and where, in myth, folklore, etc., very mysterious and strange things happen, which of course reflect something deeper than that observed on the surface-level. This is a very widely-made observation, which doesn’t necessarily make it unquestionable but, again for the purposes of this reflection, the general assumption will be made.

So, there I was: a little boy, exposed in an open field, with this wondrous little girl; and beyond us, far away and thus not immanently threatening, laid the darkness.

Without any remembered interaction, or any action at all for that matter, it is admittedly quite difficult to speculate as to what this dream could be saying, or what it could have been showing me about myself (or even if, as the extreme skeptic says, the dream has anything to express at all). As such, I will venture to interpret it based on the reasonably clear imagery and feelings which I do possess. Nothing conclusive will appear, however, and none of the aforementioned should be considered in any way concrete.

With the malevolent forces so far beyond us (the girl and I), the feeling of being safe and warm comes as no surprise. There is simply nothing immediately threatening here; it is far away; though, I think importantly, it is still there. The fact that we are both young—somewhere between five and ten would be my estimate—suggests a certain type of innocence. We are far from the darkness, perhaps, because we are still so young: at such an age, there is little concern for “serious” matters, nor is there any of the existential anxiety which I assume, based solely on my own casual observations, tends to spawn and proliferate during adolescence. Generally speaking, at this age kids are still enveloped in the simple and innocent joys and thrills of childhood. Perhaps—as so crucially emphasised in Freudian theory—the underlying developments in this stage of life are pivotal in determining one’s being in future years; but nonetheless, there remains that purity, that ignorance of the anxieties of life and of its pressures, hardships, etc., which come about at the onset of adolescence. (The vagueness of terms like “puberty” and “adolescence” are to be noted. I dislike using the terms in any concrete sense, so bear in mind that I try to use them in a very general, non-concrete sense; that is, they tend to cover so much ground that any fixed conception of them does not do justice to the complexities of individuals. Furthermore, the diversities which such terms signify are themselves constantly in flux.).

But what could all this point to, if it indeed points to anything at all? Perhaps the dream is showing me my still-innocent, unexposed aspect; the side of me that remains far, far away from danger—from my “unenlightened” aspects. But why the benevolent little girl, intuited as a guiding-type spirit? Even now I can recall her as a guiding force, a playful but comforting figure, there as my companion, friend and perhaps even caretaker. Could this girl be the babysitter for the part of myself which chooses not to go forth into the darkness; the part which now stands alone on the playing field, having removed all other players, both friends and rivals, out of fear or personal insecurity of some kind—who needlessly chooses to wander alone before the darkness? She is there to help me, but she does not force me or even urge me to do anything; she merely tends to me in this no-man’s-land (the field).

The little boy in the dream suggests to me a blissful quasi-ignorance; a knowing, but choosing not to face just yet—and this latter idea is, as well as being fairly plausible, perhaps not as ominous as it appears. I felt no pressure of any kind in the dream or in recalling it; only peace and calm. The little girl, as guide, does not tell me that I have to, but rather takes care of me presently, exposed as I am in the open sports field which is, presumably, where I have chosen to be; and chosen, notably, to be alone. It is just me and my helper, who is in essence a part of me, thus deeming me in a sense completely isolated from others.

It cannot be emphasised enough that what has been said thus far is but one possible interpretation—and a biased one, at that, for I am undeniably free to extrapolate from my own self-knowledge, for good or for worse. Nor is it comprehensive, but rather looks at the salient parts of the dream and tries humbly to interpret them.

So, in sum:

There is within me, in some sense, a still-ignorant childlike aspect—an attitude of willing naivety—which chooses to lurk around, out in the open, rather than facing up to certain things (the distant, not-yet-threatening darkness) which are at very least known, but perhaps not fully grasped. It—the journeying aspect—has chosen, for complex reasons, to do this alone. This part of myself is not forced into doing anything; it is childlike and treated as such in that it can roam about playfully, lovingly and with a caretaker, without feeling forced to take a peak into the darker regions just yet. This could suggest immaturity, or being ill-prepared for such things presently. The girl is another part of myself, who in an explicit way explains the “little me”’s unequivocal comfort and contentedness. She is feminine, which suggests that she might be from the darkness (in the Jungian sense that every male contains an often neglected feminine side, which, being that which remains unseen, resides in “the darkness”). If this were so, she might be a peaceful taste of what’s to come: a figure who the little boy obviously has no reason to fear; in fact, quite the opposite: she makes the little boy feel safe, tells him that everything is okay and that right there and then, they are far enough away from the darkness not to have to care too much about it at present. Importantly, the little boy might not know that she is from the darkness; perhaps the peace he is experiencing is a taste of what the darkness has to offer. It is noteworthy to repeat that there are no others present; to me, this suggests that, despite not even facing up to the darkness, the “little me” has chosen to go it alone, to neglect the need for others in this particular quest (whatever it may be…).

But before this goes too far, it must be restrained; for these are, of course, speculations built upon many other speculations, and to go so far and perhaps even as far as I have at all, other dreams are needed as well as a deeper understanding of and exposition of my personality and life-situation. For now, despite it appearing to be an interpretation cut short, I will rest content in having reflected on and explored the dream as far as I have been presently able, and hopefully offered the reader some kind of insight into the possible ways of looking at and reflecting on the dream-world.

All speculation is tentative, and where conviction seems evident I urge the reader to disregard this impression. Beliefs are not my concern and this reflection is merely an attempt at divulging my personal interpretations, not an attempt to put forth fixed ways of looking at dreams. The latter, as Carl Jung pointed out, is not possible; each dream must be recognised as inextricably linked with the complex life of the individual who dreams it. This is, I think, common even to popular ideas on dreams, and I hope the above reflection has made this point self-evident.

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