The Rich Wisdom of Dreams

By Emma Pearson

February 27, 2024

Photo by Mark Rimmel on Unsplash

4 January 2023

I tend to be a light sleeper. I always have been, even as a kid. The slightest bit of light, noise, and my own (not even that loud) snoring, wakes me. The upside of light sleep is that I awaken often during the night, and get to witness and contemplate whatever dreams I might just have been dreaming. The downside is that my dreams often jolt me awake before they have had time to evolve into rich stories… or at least, as I awaken, I tend just to remember a tiny snippet. There is so much to love about dreams, and despite my grogginess as I awaken from them, I am invariably grateful if I jot down a quick note or even record slurry sleepy musings. Yes – my phone is right by the bed.

This morning, when still far too early to get up, I woke twice out of two separate dreams. For the first, the phrase, “Invite and Welcome Where Possibility Meets Serendipity” was going around as in a mantra loop in my awareness. As I woke, I thought – “Oh my – I love those words! They feel so wise! No clue what it means but I will write it down”. Which I did. I wouldn’t have remembered them if I had gone straight back to sleep, as much as I tell myself, “remember, remember”. I never – rarely – do.

What to do with this? “Where possibility meets serendipity” sounds like the oft-cited phrase, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity” – attributed to Seneca. Serendipity is the “luck” bit, meaning “by lucky chance”. “Possibility” gets me thinking. “Possibility” opens up more energetically, creatively. It might be about creating possibility, enabling possibility, allowing possibility, stirring up, evoking, stimulating, activating, embracing (etc) possibility. So many possibilities around “Possibility”.

I think – along with my already abundant intentions for 2024, I will add a daily reflection on how I am “inviting and welcoming where possibility meets serendipity”, and just see what happens.

The second dream I remember involved Black the dog. He’s recently had pancreatitis – yet has made a seemingly miraculous recovery. What a dog! Now 12 ½ years, he’s getting on a bit for a mid-large-sized dog. At his annual check-up on Tuesday this week, the lovely vet who, by the way, also thinks he’s a great dog simply because he looks like a dog should look (rather than one that’s been mucked about with in a lab) said, “12 ½ years old – he’s about 90 in human terms, if you care to look at it that way” (and I realise it’s not a direct conversion).

I am lucky to have him so fit still, even if he struggles with getting into the car (as I suspect most 90-year old humans would), and hesitates before going down the stairs. We had three runs together over the Christmas-New Year period. He’s slow, but then so am I. He can still sprint, which I cannot. He sniffs in compost heaps, which I choose not to. We make for a great running duo – I think we both inspire one another out of the door.

While at the annual check-up, I buy the anti-tick and deworming products, usually given at monthly or quarterly intervals. For ease and simplicity, I buy a year’s worth of medication, expensive as it is. But this time the vet suggested that I should buy only for 3 or 6 months. Ooof. My shoulders slumped forward. My heart sank into my belly. I knew exactly what she was saying by not saying. It felt a significant shift. New assumptions about whether Black will see 2024 through. Or not.

Back to the dream: I had to deal with some sheets and duvet covers (as one does, especially after the holiday period) that were drying outside on a long washing line, rather oddly positioned over a large body of freezing and turbulent water – like a slender lake. It was windy, and the wind was whipping up the sheets/duvets and they started to get unpegged, threatening to fall into the water.

I ran around the edge of the lake, and at first Black was with me. (I have no idea where in the world I was. It was nowhere I recognised on waking, but it looked Lake District-esque). Suddenly Black dived into the water and I looked back towards him in horror. He can swim, but hasn’t swum much, and certainly not in fast-flowing, icy water. I hesitated – sheets or dog? The way the water was flowing let me understand that it (a) was very cold water, (b) was fast-flowing, and (c) (yes really) had icebergs and glaciers feeding it higher upstream (it’s a dream, right?; everything makes sense in a dream).

Realising the water was so cold, I figured that Black would freeze to death before long. But then I remembered that the very cold water in the lake became much warmer further down because of hot springs (yes – really), and so I carried on running (jogging – even in my dreams I cannot sprint), skirting the lake’s edge, hoping to entice Black towards the warmer water, on to the far end. But I couldn’t see him – the water was too turbulent. I just had to trust that he would float-flow-swim safely. Suddenly, I could see the dog emerging from the choppy water….and he clambered out on to dry land. But it wasn’t Black. It was a young brown and white dog, similar to a Beagle. He leapt out of the water and ran towards me.

And I woke up, certain that Black had died in the night. (He hadn’t).

So – Black dove into a turbulent body of water as an ageing dog, and came out the other end as a young pup. What’s this about? Let’s do some dream analysis (not my field at all…. happy to hear others’ hypotheses):

  • Lack of prioritisation in my life (saving sheets vs saving dog – seriously?)
  • The transformative and rejuvenating power of water?
  • He’s going to die soon, and this is my warning letter?
  • I am going to get another dog?
  • Black is asking for a companion?
  • Climate change anxiety with melting icebergs and glaciers?
  • Let’s assume I am Black…. I get rejuvenated if I take up ice-bathing or ice-swimming?
  • Let’s assume I am the body of water…it’s about menopausal hot and cold sweats? I am cleansing something? I am massively incoherent and inconsistent?

Such weird and wonderful things, dreams are. So magical. So imaginative, absurd, incomprehensible and illogical, even if it all makes utter sense during the dream. I love them, even if I don’t understand them.

And yes, I was so relieved to first hear, then see, my dog this morning when I ventured downstairs. I feel so grateful to have him still, this long. He’s a repository of my former family life memories. There were six of us living at home for so much of his life. And now he just has me. And I have him. I am lucky.

Lucky in the same way that I am to still have both of my parents. For sure we are all in “bonus” territory.

A year or so ago I committed to myself not to get another dog after Black dies. Certainly not if I am living alone. It’s a lot of work and responsibility. But back to “invite and welcome where possibility meets serendipity” – I admit that if a stray dog ventured my way, I would probably just have to adopt it.

I suspect I have unfinished business around dog issues.

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