I came across this dream fragment in an old journal, and find it more relevant now than it was when I recorded it a dozen years ago:
… I was sitting in a room with people who were setting out to do stuff I used to do (working with Girl Scouts, I think). I seemed to be there to teach them something. I definitely wasn't an integral part of the group. I was surprised to notice that they were digging through a box of old books that I had bought and read ten or fifteen years ago and later donated to the library book sale. These people were avidly reading those old books with great excitement. I was embarrassed that I didn't remember a word in them, and that they were sort of battered and out-of-date. But I was pleased by the new interest, and I felt confident I could answer the questions I knew they'd ask….
My immediate understanding of the dream when I woke up and remembered it was that we each learn lessons when we are ready to learn them, not a minute sooner. A book that contained the precise messages I needed to hear a dozen years ago would be stale to me, but it may be perfect for someone else today.
I also heard another message explaining why the old books seemed stale to me. Quite often, when I first discover new ideas or viewpoints, I feel as if I just split the atom. I mull over the new ideas, exploring all the angles, and twisting them to fit into the context of the world as I have understood it. At some point, something happens much like clicking the last piece into an online jigsaw puzzle in the Shockwave player. The borders of individual pieces remain embossed into the picture image as you work. Upon completion, the borders vanish, and a perfectly smooth image emerges. When my understanding of the new concept is complete, the borders around the new information disappear. It is fully incorporated into my working body of knowledge. At that point I’m hard-pressed to assess how much of my understanding derives from the original material, and how much is my own adaptation. I still remember reading the source material, and being excited about it, but the specifics blur.
Most memories work in a similar way. Our experiences blur together and form an integrated memory. Even vividly unique memories that don’t blend in with others take on new hues through time. Each time we replay them, they are minutely altered by the act of remembering, the circumstances of the moment, and our emotions at the time.
Just as this dream has developed additional value from exploring its meaning, memories we share in our stories derive additional value when we include our reflections on the meanings that come to surround the memory.
Dreams can be powerful additions to your written life story if you remember them, or keep a dream journal. What dreams might you remember that you could use in your stories?
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal