Friday, December 29, 2006

Dreams and Narrative

Earlier this summer I wrote about the impact my in-depth study of Jung has been having on my life and thought. I didn't mention what it's doing to my dreams. Previously I had made half-hearted attempts at capturing what I remembered of my dreams in the morning after I woke up; I kept a dream journal where I recorded the narrative of the dream as well as impressions of color, feelings, climate, and more.

But until I really got to know Jung, I didn't have the keys I needed to unlock the people, images, tools, and dynamics in those dreams. Now I not only write in my dream journal regularly, but I also keep a red notebook of dream diagrams, where I sketch out the various images in the dream, diagram the dynamics, list the associations, and determine what compensation and/or question my unconscious is offering me through the dream. It's fascinating--and so rich!

After the New Year, I'm going to write up the process and produce a series of worksheets so you can try it yourself if you feel so led. I am convinced more than ever that we are truly self-healing beings--sometimes we need each other to help find the keys to the doors we've locked pieces of ourselves behind, but I believe we have everything we need to ultimately find wholeness, integration, and a sense of true appreciation for ourselves and all creation around and within us.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Locked in a Past Moment

I experienced something interesting related to narrative late yesterday. One of my coworkers is currently going through a difficult time—her family is in crisis. I was feeling sad for her and sending her good vibes (my word for prayer, really). I felt like I was moving and operating in a cloud because so much of my thought was with her.

In an e-mail to another friend and coworker last night, I was surprised to find a story from my own life spilling out. I wrote about an experience that happened when my oldest son was a baby. While we were traveling, he became very sick and we rushed him to the emergency room, not knowing whether he would be okay. I wrote about the panic, fear, and mightmarish quality of that night as though it happened yesterday. It was all still very alive for me—even though it happened 17 years ago, and even though everything turned out all right.

I could feel every emotion from that experience and see all the visuals very clearly. The crowded and noisy ER. The antiseptic smell of the exam room. The face of the doctor. The tightness of my arms as I held my baby tightly to me, afraid to hand him over to strangers in that foreign place. The critical, fast-moving moments. The shots, the medicine, the people. And finally, the wave of relief when the doctor told me he would be okay and pushed a small scrap of paper in my hand with his pager number on it, in case anything else happened.

As I reflected on my own high emotional experience in simply relating that story, I suddenly connected it with an odd, somewhat irrational alarm I get when, even today, I have trouble reaching my kids. I am a pretty even person, but for some reason I can't be rational when the kids aren't answering their cell phones, or when it's been several days and one of them hasn't checked in. My youngest still lives at home and the oldest lives only a mile away, so I see them every day, but my middle child—the son who was the focus of this emergency narrative—is in his first year at college and I had an experience a few weeks ago when I was worried because he hadn't answered his phone for several days. It's the same feeling I felt when I held tightly to him in the ER and didn't want to hand him over to strangers. It was that fear of losing him that overshadowed everything else.

I've been reading a lot of Jung lately (amazing, amazing) and in Synchronicity, he talks about the idea of the emotions being the catalyzing energy that seems to attract "runs" or "series" of synchronous events. Jumping off this idea, I was aware of the way in which the experience of taking my baby to the ER in a foreign place still had life for me. There was real, living emotion trapped inside that event—it was obvious because of the way it still moved me. It made me wonder whether our life energy gets locked in individual moments and waits for release, understanding, and integration. It's a great focus and intention for narrative work, I think. And it's something we each do for each other, every day, simply by living our lives and sharing what we experience.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Storyteller’s Wish List

As someone who is fascinated by and continually learning about story (personal stories, life framing systems, archetypes and mythology, and more), I put together a unique kind of holiday list relating what, to me, would constitute a really great holiday:

  • Plenty of friends and family
  • Time to reflect and understand
  • Lots of laughter
  • Tears (from a softened heart)
  • Awareness (awe) of beauty
  • Wonder (embracing the mystery)
  • Hope (drawing us forward into an ever-expanding and enriching life)
  • Desire (for clarity, for understanding, for connection)
  • Giving from the abundance of appreciation for what we have
  • Receiving the joy another shares

Wherever you are this year, I hope you enjoy a full, happy, and blessed holiday!