Early this morning, I awoke in a dream. I was in a washroom of the kind you find in public buildings, when a man entered and started talking. His face was surprising defined, since I don’t think I have ever met him, either in a dream or my daily life. He seemed to be in charge, and I began to think I was attending some kind of training event. As is typical in dreams, a world that would explain my presence seemed to stand behind the events that unfolded.
My sense of this assembling world was that I was on some kind of retreat and this man was a teacher who would be helping us to overcome whatever issues we brought with us.
I’m not sure whether this occurred to me in the dream or was something I injected after I was awake; but the world of the dream, with its hovering suggestion that an underlying coherence stood behind whatever happened, was perhaps nothing other than those appearances. My dreaming self didn’t require this world to be anything but what I assumed about it. Events and words seemed to have a past, present and future, although—thinking about it now–there may have been nothing but those images themselves, popping up independently of any background.
There was a brief exchange between the confident man and another man, which left me feeling that we were on a break from some kind of training. The ‘teacher’ said to this other man, in response to something he said, “Does someone here have some pent-up aggression?”
At this point I spoke up, with my own confidence; although it may have been my characteristic way of skirmishing at any hint that someone might be in a position of authority over me. Even in a dream, such tendencies may be operating, evidence that some larger stream is constantly at work, constructing an imagined situation in which I can then be present. What I said was:
“I don’t think he was expressing aggression. He was following up on what you said. If someone described a desert made from cake soaked in a bit of rum or brandy, topped with custard and whipped cream; and then someone else says, “trifle”, that wouldn’t be aggression.”
The teacher laughed, turned to the other man, and asked, “Is that how you meant it?”
I didn’t hear any further conversation between them and couldn’t tell what their relationship was. But I now had a sense that the teacher was open to a larger flow and that, therefore, I too could be open to whatever came next.
At this point, more awake than asleep, I swung my legs onto the floor and made my way in the darkness to the kitchen; my reflections about this dream must have come from a wider stream than the glimpses I could remember of my experience inside the dream. Remembering more of the dream’s unfolding interactions, wouldn’t change that fact.
True to the way I ponder these things, I think of that larger stream as what lies behind and within everything that appears, both in dream and in daily life, no matter how confidently I assume that my I’s are dotted and my T’s are crossed. I also assume that this larger stream is running everywhere and every when, even though I may only notice the driftwood deposited on the shore.