Dreams are social as well as individual, transpersonal as well as personal. We get out and about, we make visits and we receive visitations. Some of us are much more social in dreams than in regular life. This was my story overnight.
After a quiet Christmas Eve with family around the tree, I traveled far and wide and brought back detailed reports in three intermissions from adventures with people who are strangers to me in the ordinary world.
In the first excursion, I am at a British military hospital during World War I trying to persuade the brass that there are more humane and healing ways to approach "shell shock" than to send soldiers back to the front or discharge them as unfit. I become lucid, aware that I am in a different body, trying to find how to apply knowledge from my current life including psychological terms that are not understood in 1917. I am starting to get a hearing from British military doctors when I step out of this scene.
In another dream, I travel between the Hamptons and a country estate, trying to help in an emotional drama that has a woman on the verge of suicide. Despite the raw grief and rage in the scene, I feel I am getting through. I am calm and detached when I leave the scene.
In a third dream, I am staying in a vast luxury apartment in Miami. Three Latina housekeepers come in while I am trying to take a shower and lay out a four-plate feast for me. They come with happy dogs – a big black Chow and a tiny long-haired dachshund - that race around.
None of this was cheery jingle bells stuff, or the starlight of the Magi, but I felt up rather than down after each episode. The dreams seemed entirely literal, real encounters in different times and places. I was glad to see that my dream self was trying to help where help was needed, in an earlier time and an alternate reality. I could be in that apartment in Miami in the future, but I think what is unfolding there belongs to a parallel life that does not require further attention from me from this side of the swing door between the worlds.
I am pretty sure the stories are continuing to play after I thought I had checked out. I don’t feel any work is required on this side, not even my frequent dream detective work of asking “Who? What? Where? When? Why?”
I could play the part of asking “What part of me?” is each character in each dream – the ramrod stiff colonel as opposed to the would-be healer or the wounded warrior, for example.That could be fun. but would not lay to rest my deep sense that the dream figures are more than aspects of myself or a cast assembled by my inner movie producers. They have their own lives.
I allow myself the gentle pleasure of recording three new travel reports in my journal, and then adding them to my digital folder on Social Dreams. This folder now contains thousands of personal entries. In many of them I meet people I later encounter in ordinary reality, often in a workshop or lecture setting. I lead a workshop in a dream, then give that workshop in regular life, and recognize people who took it with me already. Just as often, however, a social encounter in a dream remains in its own space, in an alternate reality or a parallel event track. First-hand data of this kind is a corrective to the misconception – still amazingly common among pundits on dream psychology - that whatever goes on in a dream is merely a part of the dreamer.
Journal drawing by Robert Moss