Friday, May 22, 2009

The desk in the mountains

I am walking from room to room in my house with books and papers, trying to find the right place to settle in order to embark on important new work. I realize the solution is very simple: I'll go back to my desk. It's a huge desk, but it's usually covered with stuff. When I sit down now, however, much of the surface is clear. I notice a little black Moleskine notebook that vanished many months ago.
     I feel extraordinarily comfortable, yet also ready for adventure, almost as if the desk is the control panel of a starship and we are about to take off. I look up and gasp with amazement and delight. In front of me, the wall of the room has vanished. I am looking into a marvelous vista of forested hills and mountains. Everything is green and verdant, full of the juice of spring. I am right there, in the midst of the mountains, as if my desk is on an overhang.

I woke from this dream this morning feeling wonderful, ready to plunge into new projects. But first, I needed to honor the dream on a literal level by clearing space on my desk. As I moved things around my writing Cave, I unearthed the little Moleskine notebook, and with it a box of "floppy" disks that had been missing for even longer, and had evaded my periodic - and sometimes urgent - archeological digs. The retrieval of the floppies was a great find, since they contain journal entries and story drafts I had not saved on my current hard drive or flash drive.
     Our dream adventures may be grand narrative roller coasters, or long-running sitcoms, or multi-storeyed houses of the psyche; some of my dream reports run for pages and pages of single-spaced type. Yet sometimes the most helpful dreams come through as a vignette, a fragment, or just a single word or phrase. Less can be more, in this as in other things. A simple image may provide a vital clue, and when it stands alone there is less risk of blurring the focus. If we want more, we can use even the tiniest fragment as a fisherman uses a rod, to reel in larger creatures from the dream sea. More than any specific content, the great gift of certain dreams is the energy they can convey. My dream of the desk in the mountains left me full of juice, ready to work and create - and even to clean up my office!
     I am reminded of an observation by my favorite writer on dreams before the modern era, who just happened to be a bishop of the early church. In his tractate "On dreams" (De insomniis), written on his estate in North Africa around 405, Synesius wrote that in dreams God makes us "fruitful with his own courage." Yes. Dreaming helps us to bear fruit, with vital strength from a deeper source.


fran said...

I like this a lot as it has helped me clarify a couple of the lessons I've lately been learning about dreaming. First, the whole thing about fragments has really come home to me as this month's dreams have been 90% fragments. No obvious narratives, no complexities, just a vignette or two or three. I'm starting to see that you can use them very simply and directly as a "handle" for drawing out the essentials. And the second lesson started to come through at the weekend workshop that I took with you even thought it was not so explicit. That has been to see the "energy" of a dream as an essential (and possibly distinct) quality of a dream that is accessible and available for use. I'm still not sure how to describe this, but it now seems to me that the active part of active dreaming is bound up with that energy. That's pretty darn cool! It makes me want to work with a lot more dreamers to help develop that sense of the energy of a dream.

You've mentioned Synesius a few times and I wanted to find out more, so I googled around a found a few copies of the book available for reading:

On Dreams by Synesius


Robyn said...

I'm struck with how clearing a new space, both psychically and physically, so often leads to the re-finding of "old" information that has new currency. I love your description of taking off in comfort for a star journey from your desk in the midst of the mountains, poised on the edge of far-reaching discovery. The combination of bold and comfortable makes it a perfect visualization for creative launch. Happy Travels, Robert! I can just see you flying through the realms, pen in hand, writing up a jet stream.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Fran - Thanks for the Synesius links, which will be helpful for those who are looking for more. The 1930 Augustine Fitzgerald translation of "The Essays and Hymns of Synesius of Cyrene" is almost impossible to find. I do include a few pages on Synesius in my "Secret History of Dreaming".

I find that even a "wisp" from a dream - less even than a fragment - can give excellent orientation and a clue worth following up. I experienced this again during the workshop I was leading this weekend, where a dream trace involving the importance of NAMING gave very helpful direction.

As we began to explore in Evanston, the ENERGY to be drawn from the dreamworld may be even more important than dream CONTENT, which is why we need to move to embody our dreams and contstruct physical action plans we can implement without delay.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Robyn - Yes, clearing a space is essential, isn't it? Parts of my desk are still open space :-) Actually, my desk was a piece of magical furniture even before I realized it is the control panel for a starship. My desk is literally a door - a cheap unpained hollowcore door laid over thigh-high bookcases according to instructions delivered in a previous dream, several years ago. I have owned many desks, usually quite large, ranging from an antique partner's desk to an ultra-modern L-shaped desk. My desk that is a door is the best ever, even better now that I know it can take off over those green mountains, as I fdound myself doing during a conscious journey with the drumming in a workshop circle this weekend.

Robyn said...

Your magical desk is triply blessed in that it is has no pain, (unpained/unpaned),is spacious, and has book legs :-)

Robert Moss said...

Hey Robyn, Thanks for noticing what becomes a great source of guidance for those of us who navigate by coincidence - what may be showing through a slip. Feelin' no pain :-)