A patient, a bright college-graduate who was just beginning psychotherapy for depression and anxiety, dreamt that he was traveling deep in the ocean in a submarine. There was a light on the front of the submarine, but it was still too dark to see what was ahead.
The patient said, “The dream makes no sense. I was never in a submarine. Where could it be going?”
“Any ideas? The psychiatrist asked.
“Any thoughts about submarines or trips?”
“Not really. Except that in the dream I was pretty nervous.”
After a few more non-productive attempts at getting his new patient to explore the meaning of the dream, the psychiatrist commented, “It seems like you’re fearful of the upcoming journey.”
“What journey? I’m not planning on going anywhere.”
“I’m referring to the journey into your own mind.”
The young man just stared at the psychiatrist and shook his head in awe. “It’s so obvious, now that you said it. Why couldn’t I see it?”
“That’s what our journey’s all about. For you to see what’s hidden within you, and for you to use that information to feel better.”
Dreams range from the amazing to the mundane. They can help uncover years of repressed rage and love; or just be a simple memory of what happened the previous day. The mysteries hidden within the mind are accessible through the process of psychotherapy and self-examination.
For a writer, dreams can be the direction that will lead a novelist to spend years writing a novel that no one but himself might read. Yes, the wish for wealth and greatness may be there, but to spend so much time on an endeavor so fraught with failure has to be driven by the deepest of passions. A passion so deep that even a submarine might not reach it. And maybe it shouldn’t be reached. Just the magic of creativity is often enough.
The magic of the dream is that it touches our core, tantalizes our psyche, but keeps us safe. It is our mind’s way of dealing out information in a way that we can handle, gently and carefully. On the other hand, nightmares never feel gentle or safe. But sometimes we might need a two-by-four to wake us up and do what we need to do to improve our lives.
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