How a Little Dream Became a Big Dream

Friday, March 13, 2009

I woke up the next morning and read my journal entry, getting another chuckle from the silly antics it described. It may have been a small dream, but as the first entry in the journal it carried a certain degree of significance and I lent my thoughts to its possible meaning. It was obvious that I was out of place in the martial arts academy, a feeling I encounter often enough in my day to day life. It's also not unusual to find myself in a situation I'm unprepared to handle, whether by chance or my own blundering, so the dream scenario of being on the verge of getting the crap beat out of me certainly reflected an aspect of my reality. The image of tripping over the hem of the too-long robe was a particularly vivid memory - obviously a fighter's mantle will never fit me properly and I'll only trip over my own feet if I attempt it. With that analysis I dropped the dream from my thoughts and went about my business for the morning.It was while biking to my studio later that morning that something from the Bulkeley book came to my attention. He suggests that in analyzing a dream it's useful to isolate significant elements and expand on what they might mean to the dreamer outside of the context of the dream, thereby shedding some new light on their place within the dream. With this bit of advice I set about taking the dream apart in my mind.The first element I examined was the use of the term "warrior", not one that normally enters my common vocabulary. I'd even used the word in my grogginess at 3am when I wrote the entry down. This seemed curious to me, until I remembered a book I'd read a few weeks prior to the dream, a book about the phenomenon of shamanism and its transfer from the indigenous context to contemporary urban culture, sometimes called neo-shamanism (think Carlos Castaneda, for example). There was an interview in the book with a Siberian shaman in which it was posited that with effort and training one could travel inward and find one's spiritual twin, and by meeting the twin discover one's true calling in life. The spiritual twin, as the shaman described it, could manifest in only 7 ways - Healer, Teacher, Warrior, Magus, Executor, Protector, or Messenger. I had found this interesting in a Jungian archetypal kind of way, and had decided that as an artist, or one who uses a kind of alchemy to turn common materials into something magical, the term Magus best fit for me. But now my dream had picked up on the Warrior image; at that moment of revelation I saw that this dream might have more to say than I had concluded earlier. As I glided down the Cherry Creek bike trail I fell into a deeper revery.Now I had no choice but to look more closely at the appearance of Captain Picard in my dream. I'm not a fanatical Star Trek watcher, but I sometimes enjoy science fiction and I think the Star Trek series made good use of the device of encountering alien civilisations in space as an allegory for our postmodern clash of cultures here on Earth. The series has had at least four different crews in different time periods within the over-arching narrative. With each iteration the tone changed according to the personalities within the crew, and particularly in the person of the captain. In thinking of this I realized that of all the captains, Picard was the one I admired most. His character was a fierce warrior for sure, but one who was prone to quoting Shakespeare, or Milton, or the Upanishads. He grew up on a family winery and was familiar with good food and a fine bottle of wine. In other words, he was a cultured warrior. I suppose if I was going to be a warrior, I would want to be a cultured warrior.This put a new spin on Picard's appearance in my dream - instead of treating it lightly as a pop culture image randomly tumbling around in my brain and finding itself lodged in my interior narrative by happenstance, his presence now meant something far more significant. Here was not just a warrior, but a Master Warrior, the Master of a martial arts academy. And this Master Warrior, one whom I admired, had picked me over all the highly trained warriors in the room to wear his ceremonial Warrior's Robe. What an honor! By insisting I don his robe he was recognizing me as his equal, despite my lack of training - he had seen something within me and was bringing it to my attention.But, all that tripping and stumbling! I could hardly get across the room without falling on my face as all those around me leaped and twirled and punched and kicked in the most controlled and graceful fashion. Surely I was not fit to wear this garment, this persona of the warrior. Then I had one of those aha!!! moments, slamming my bike to a halt and staring with wide eyes and slack jaw into the sky. The robe wasn't too big because I wasn't fit to wear it, I JUST NEEDED TO GROW INTO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I must have laughed for 5 minutes. Of course the Magus was not enough. The dream was telling me I needed to take the stance of a warrior as well in my life and work. The Magus/Warrior, if you will. The magician certainly, but one with strength and courage and daring, one who can defeat his demons, whether inside his psyche or in the outer world. I had the Magus part down, the Warrior needed some work but it was there, deep in the person of my spiritual twin.And that's how a little dream became a Big Dream.