Dreaming Your Life Awake

Australian Aborigines believe that our dreams are our real life, and our waking life is meant to be a path to fulfill them.  I’ve had recurring dreams, meaningful dreams that I still remember vividly, and dreams that have come true much as I dreamed them. I once dreamed a portion of someone else’s lif and had them verify it.

Dreamers, colored pencil on Bristol Board © Quinn McDonald

What’s bothered me about dreams is that they seem personal and meaningful, but dream interpretation seems to be a impersonal, reduced to symbol searches. Many books list the items in dreams and assign them a meaning. You dream of flying, it’s a sign someone is going to die. In another book, flying is sex. (In that book, everything is sex. It doesn’t need to be 300 pages long, one would have been plenty.)

Another school of thought says that you are everyone in your dream. I’m not sure that works for me, either. Many of the people in my dream are known to me and many unknown that represent an idea or warning for me, but they aren’t me.

I think dreams are far more meaningful, and I don’t believe they are random images your brain fans out because you’ve eaten pepperoni pizza late at night. I believe dreams are a connection to the collective unconscious–the past of your cultural ancestors. I think dreams are a map of our lives, a colorful tapestry of adventures, a guide to the path we have chosen, an illuminated manuscript of both our imagination and our possibilities.

After studying with Robert Moss, and reading his books, I’m interested in active dreaming–a combination of shamanic methods and paying attention to ourselves. Moss says, “Our ‘big story’ is stalking us, and if we don’t embrace that story, others will impose their own stories, little stories and ‘small identities’ on us. ”  The only person who can correctly interpret a dream is the dreamer, who has all the information. Well meaning friends, who reach for mass-interpretation of dream, may want to help. But it’s the “fixing” kind of help that isn’t the best answer because it’s someone else’s idea of what we should do.

Moss believes we can re-enter dreams, either in meditation or in subsequent dreams. He believes we need to get lost in the meaning of our dreams to discover their meaning.

I’m keeping track of all this dreaming, waiting to see how I’itoi is meant to be in my life. I’ve chosen to believe that dreaming of I’itoi is not hijacking another culture, it’s freeing my limits. Dreaming sets your soul wandering at night, why should I build a fence around it? Enough people do that already. And maybe that was the meaning I’m learning.

Quinn McDonald is a dreamer, writer, and creativity coach. She never uses faces in her work, but this one, a figure from a dream, worked out.