I had a less than restful night last night. Part of this was due to not one, but two separate and very different dreams about getting lost in familiar territory.
I don’t hold to the prophetic dream school–at least not as far as my own dreams are concerned. I see dreams as the subconscious sweeping up the odds and ends from the waking world, and sometimes patterns form. At the best of times, carefully looking at dreams lets me deconstruct bits my life that could stand further examination.
With that in mind, I was able to look at the dreams under a microscope this morning. In the first, I was headed to a friend’s place in the neighborhood, but instead of getting on a bus headed south, I went west instead, and found myself in a whole new neighborhood. In the second, I was given a ride to a party, and the driver got lost in something of an urban wasteland. Let’s break those two dreams down in more detail.
Dream One: I was going to visit friends who lives about 20 blocks south of me. My bus to work for the past six years goes right past their place. I know how to get there. Yet somehow I ended up on a bus that carried me directly west along 85th. I found myself in a stretch of a few blocks with quirky shops, cafes, etc. that I had never seen before. It reminded me of parts of Portland, like around the Baghdad. If I hadn’t been on my way somewhere, I would have lingered, poked around, made a day of it. Instead, I had to call Aarron and ask (as weird as it was) where I was–as if somehow they had moved their apartment. We determined that I just had to walk 20 blocks south and I’d be to their place (which makes no sense in a geographic sense), so I struck off, knowing that I could find this new neighborhood again.
Dream Two: I was going to a small party hosted by a friend in Ballard. In real-life, I’ve been there once, and I know there is no direct bus route. I had the address, but not directions. I was going to the party with a strange amalgam of my first and third wife who had a car and claimed to know the way. That proved to be incorrect as we ended up circling this area that was part industrial/part blasted foundations and barren lots. She pulled into a parking lot of this low, beige building with strip mall shops and these sort of scavenged apartments. She went in to ask for directions and didn’t come out. After several minutes, I went in after her and realized she’d gotten caught up in a conversation with former co-workers about how shitty their jobs were. There was no resolution, no feeling that I was ever getting to my destination. I was stuck in a wasteland with no way out.
The Interpretation: In the first dream, I made a mistake, but it was my mistake. It took me somewhere I wasn’t prepared to go, but it was somewhere new, somewhere fun. Trusting my own instincts and going off track took me somewhere I wanted to explore. Most importantly, I knew how I got there, and I knew how to get where I was going from there. Both of those are vital. In the second, I trusted someone else with control of my travels, and I ended up lost and stuck. What’s important here is I knew where I wanted to go. I had the address, but didn’t take the level of control where I printed out directions.
Now, maybe it has to do with the fact that I’ve been reading The Fountainhead recently, which is, at it’s core, about following your own path. At least that’s what I’m getting out of it. (Well, that and a fascinating read about architecture.)
But I think there is a bit of fundamental truth to be gleaned from those dreams–something I can apply to both personal and writing life.
I have two paths–trust others with my destination and risk getting stranded if they fail me, or forge ahead with the confidence that if I get lost, I got there myself and can find my way where I’m going (or at least back, having discovered something new). This isn’t an excuse to take foolish chances. No matter where I go, whether it’s as a writer or as a dude living his life, making informed decisions is always better than striking off blindly.
But maybe that’s just the dream talking.