Sunday, July 5, 2009

Recent Dreams

Most mornings, I awake with no memory of what I dreamed the night before. When I do remember my dreams, they generally fall into one of three categories:

1. Wild, nonsensical dreams full of seemingly random surrealistic imagery. In these dreams, I am completely unaware of myself as a conscious entity.

2. Dreams in which I am a central character but the "I" of the dream is separated from the "I" of my consciousness. That is, my dreaming self watches as "I" live out various fantastical stories.

3. Realistic dreams in which I have the same sort of thought processes as when I am awake. These are the sorts of dreams from which one awakes and asks, "Was I dreaming?"

Sometimes the boundaries are fuzzy, particularly since dreams can have more then one "episode," and so a dream may begin with one level of consciousness and end with another.

Yesterday morning, I awoke with the feeling one has after a Type 3 dream, but soon felt rather silly asking the whole "was I dreaming" question, since the dream could not be called realistic. For starters, I was pregnant.

Pregnant, and a doctor was informing me that I would have to abort my baby. Apparently I had previously undergone a new, innovative procedure making it possible for men to carry babies, but something wasn't going well and for my own safety, the pregnancy would have to be terminated.

Now, up to this point I think I had been having a Type 2 dream. I cannot recall any conscious thoughts in any detail, just basic emotions and reactions (the doctor's news actually came as something of a relief). But then a new scene begins: I'm alone in a hospital room waiting for my operation. I'm wearing a hospital gown and feeling nervous about what's going to happen. Will the surgery go okay? How do I feel about losing my baby? The conscious thoughts are all there, and everything seems completely realistic. I seem to be fully myself, just in a highly unusual circumstance. So, it's a Type 3 dream now. I analyze my own complex feelings about losing my baby until I wake up.

Clearly this is a dream almost begging to be subjected to all sorts of interpretations.* My wife suggests that the baby could symbolize an aspect of my creative life, and I think there's something to this. Still, it's unclear to me whether the dream suggests that I need to abort some aspect of my life, or whether I'm feeling pressure to abort something and should resist.

*Castlerook's really a woman! Or, castlerook really wants to be a woman! He has uterus envy!!

While I'd be fascinated to read any theories my readers may come up with, I'm going to leave the subject of castlerook's pregnancy for now. Believe it or not, I had another dream the same night which I find even more interesting.

I'd been awake about an hour or so before I realized that I had another dream before the "I'm pregnant" dream.

The dream was very brief, and consisted of a single image and a series of thoughts about the image. In my dream, I was looking at a picture of the enneagram.

Necessary digression: the enneagram (or, more specifically, the Enneagram of Personality) is a tool used in personality analysis, sort of like the Myers-Briggs personality typology, but with something of a more mystical basis. In the enneagram, there are nine personality types which exist along a continuous circle. Everyone supposedly has one personality type, though this type may be influenced by a "wing," that is, by an adjacent point. Here's a good site if you're interested in reading more. Actually, go to that site now even if you're not particularly interested, since I'm about to refer to the image of the enneagram on that site.

Back now? Great. I have, for some time, identified myself as a 2 with a 3 wing. On the site you just visited, 2 is termed "The Helper" and 3, "The Achiever." So, one could say that my basic desire is to help people but I also have a strong desire to achieve things for myself.

Digression over. The sole visual content of my dream was a picture of the enneagram, but each number had a different descriptive word next to it. Next to 2 was the word "communication," and next to 3, the word "insight." There was a very clear realization that I was now too close to the 3-point, and needed to get back to the 2-point.

In remembering this image the following morning, I was momentarily unsure whether I was remembering a dream, or an actual event. Then I realized that the words "communication" and "insight" don't fit in with any enneagram theory that I've ever seen. Indeed, "The Achiever" is usually described as a success-oriented, go-getter type, and the "insight" description doesn't really apply. For me, though, I think it does. The areas in which I care most about achieving have always been mentally oriented (chess being the prime example, but only one). I am fiercely competitive when it comes to mental challenges. Furthermore, lately I've been engaged in a sort of existential effort to try and uncover "the meaning of it all" and this, too, may be deeply related to my need for achievement.

The message of the dream is both clear and accurate: I have become too focused on achieving great personal insight, to the neglect of communicating such insights with others (witness, for example, the dearth of recent entries on this blog).

Come to think of it, maybe my quest for personal enlightenment is also my unborn baby.

Or maybe all of this rambling is a sign that I need to get more sleep that doesn't involve carrying a fetus or floating nine-pointed geometrical figues.


  1. Wow,I think you may be a female version of me.
    You did a remarkable job of explaining your dream here - that's quite a feat.

    I just told my business partner that I had a dream so vivid, so detailed, so watch-meltingly Dali-esque (and an incredible blend of all three dream categories as you've described) that if I tried to write it all down, it would be thick enough to qualify as a novella.

    Sometimes I think it's just bad brain messin' with my head; other times I know there's something big in there, and I want to scream, "Can't you just deliver the message in visions I can comprehend?!"

  2. I thought your dream looked like the kernel of a science fiction short story. But it's probably been done.

    Thanks for introducing me to the enneagram. Now I have yet another personality test to take issue with. (I really don't agree with the way it pegged me...)

  3. What interesting dreams! I keep meaning to start a dream journal but I never do. As a result most of my dreams, except for the truly frightening ones, are forgotten.