Page 49: The Language of Dreams

Exploring the Desire Behind Dream Interpretation

By ELLEN GRACE

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I’ve had the same recurring dream for as long as I can remember. For some reason, I’ve decided to drop out of post-secondary and go back to highschool for an extra year, and so has everyone I went to school with. No one understands the decision or explains it, and no one knows if we will be able to return to university after. In these dreams, I can’t find my schedule so I never know where I am supposed to be. I am running around amidst my classmates who don’t seem to be confused at all. I miss tests and exams and don’t get the grades that I need to graduate. My waking fear that become reality in these dreams is that if I step backwards in order to learn and heal, I will get stuck there forever. I will be unable to return to the present I have worked so hard to build.

A couple years ago, in a little used bookshop in Wales, I found a book called “Dreaming: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Interpreting and Benefiting from your Dreams” by Julia and Derek Parker. I purchased it for £4. I remember walking around the bus as it was moving, taking turns sitting with different people in the group I was touring with, book in hand. I would listen to them talk about what they dreamt the night before, and use the “dream dictionary” ( a glossary of about 1000 terms with the authors’ interpretation of what they might mean) to find an explanation. What I enjoyed about this process was that it helped everything make a little more sense. Assigning meaning to the events which take place in the waking world can often be met with criticism. The difference with dreams is that most people don’t take them so seriously. I firmly believe some of my dreams are messages I need to receive, but I also know that some of them are just pure nonsense. Dream analysis then became for me a kind of writing exercise.  They were puzzle pieces that you could fit together to form a clear picture, if only you arranged them a certain way. You’re given material to work with and a structure to follow. The rest is up to you.

I can’t tell if my desire for interpreting my dreams is founded in wanting to learn more about myself and my thought patterns, or in a need to assign a narrative to a place where a narrative may not belong. If dreams are an expression of the subconscious, I worry that by breaking them down and categorizing them I am simply engaging in another form of suppression. I am spending time assigning meaning where there is none, when I could be using that time to explore more tangible parts of my identity. I am at a stage in my life which involves emerging from repression, trying to be the person I want to be but was always afraid to. I am dissecting and pulling out thoughts that were put there by others, and trying to listen closer to the thoughts that are founded in authenticity. I guess it doesn’t matter if the things you dream “mean” anything or if you are interpreting them “correctly”. It matters more if these interpretations are helping you to grow, or if they are making life even more confusing.

Lots of creative modes involve bringing different fragments together to divulge a new story; making music, collaging, or writing essays like these. Somehow, the story that emerges from interpreting your dreams is more thrilling, because the story is about you.