My Mantra for 2017: Play Fearlessly
The other night I woke in a sort of distraught state at 6AM after one of the most vivid dreams I’ve had in a while. Yesterday, I spent time reflecting on what the dream meant. You see, we were raised to pay attention to our dreams, and this one stood out because of its incredible clarity and the intense emotions it evoked…
I’m flying several hundred feet above this incredibly blue ocean, like the kind you see in the Caribbean with two of my buddies from college. They’re in the pilots’ seats and I’m in the back sitting in what was the equivalent of the bed of a truck. There was no top or cabin on this plane, no seat belts, just the three of us joyously darting around the sky without a care.
Normally this sort of situation would have created some fear. Riding in the bed of a truck is one thing, when its hundreds of feet above the ocean, is another. But, I wasn’t afraid, even as my less-than-careful buddies took turns going into nose doves.
Eventually, they pointed the nose of the plane straight up to the sky and I tumbled out of the back, hurtling down into this incredible body of water. I surfaced, breathed in the warm air and then relaxed while they landed the plane nearby.
We splashed around for a while, but soon came upon a small schoolhouse, like the kind you’d see from the old west, sitting as if it were meant to be there in the middle of the water. There were children swimming around and playing outside and I approached the front door.
Immediately a child emerged. It was my youngest brother, Evan, and although he’s in his mid-twenties today, he was only about five or so years old in the dream, but he looked exactly as I remember him when he was young.
Staring at each other, we both burst into tears, and I can only describe how I felt as this deep sense of sadness and longing, specifically, longing to be with him. I then plainly asked him how his day was going and if he was having fun, and, with a small smile while still crying, he said we was. He then asked me the same question, and reflecting I said, yes, I was having an amazing day, despite the overwhelming sadness I was experiencing in that moment.
Just then an individual whom I presume was the teacher of this school stepped out and said that it was time for Evan to go inside. We both pleaded with him, begging desperately, to let us stay together, but he said no, forcing Evan back into the school house.
Then I awoke, still saddened and longing…for something.
On my way in to work that morning, I called my mom whose quite adept at dream interpretation, among many other useful things. I recounted the dream to her and she too was emotional, but instantly recognized that there might be a theme around happiness and carefree, childlike behavior.
Gestalt dream therapists suggest that dreams are existential messages that we send to ourselves about our own lives. When trying to interpret dreams through this framework, therapists often ask their clients to assume the role of other characters to uncover deeper layers of meaning.
Seeing Evan, as another version of my self, and thinking about the longing and sadness I was experiencing during our encounter, and then him being forced back inside, suggests I’m experiencing some sort of loss or separation from happiness and this childlike, carefree version of my self.
Thinking of myself as the teacher who forces Evan inside, draws attention to the role that I am playing in preventing this joyful, carefree outlook.
The obvious question is: does all of this analysis resonate with what I am experiencing in my daily life. And, it does, quite strongly. I am undoubtedly at a crossroads, questioning what brings me true happiness and fulfillment, while coping with greater amounts of responsibility
In fact, trying to stay in touch with or even struggling to allow this perhaps truest version of myself to shine amidst fear of judgement and failure has been one of the prevailing themes of my 20’s.
So, until another dream tells me otherwise, my mantra for 2017 is to Play Fearlessly…