For the last three nights I’ve had a recurring dream of planning my next blog post, but when I wake up I can’t remember what the topic was. This is very annoying because in the past I’ve gotten some of my best writing ideas from my dreams. I just love it when that happens. It’s like finding the missing piece that completes a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly everything falls into place and I see the big picture and have the most wonderful sense of being connected to the Mystery.
So this morning when I woke up with the same thoughts running through my head like skittish squirrels looking for someplace to hide I lay very still so as not to scare them away. There were no images but I did remember a sentence or two. Thinking that would be enough, I ignored my own advice and, without writing anything down, went to the kitchen for coffee. Now that I’m ready to write do I remember it? No. Not a word. I’m so disappointed.
You’ve probably experienced the same thing. And not just with dreams, but with waking insights too. Did you ever notice that beneath your annoyance at your forgetfulness there’s another feeling, a sort of mental hunger for something tugging at the edges of your awareness? It’s like wanting a special snack you just know will be uniquely satisfying, but not being able to figure out what it is and searching through the pantry until you find the brownie mix!
The constantly repeating process of fulfillment, distraction, longing, and renewal is, like our heartbeat or breath, so subtle and commonplace as to be virtually imperceptible. But it’s worthy of notice because this is how we grow psychologically and spiritually. If we train ourselves to recognize the stages — which are the same as Nature’s cycle of birth, growth, death, and rebirth — we are less apt to be pulled off course by frustration, anxiety or despair.
Both cycles begin with a womb-like state of unconscious comfort which gradually evolves into a state of distraction and forgetfulness during which our only goal is to keep growing in the same direction we’re already headed. But inevitably dissatisfaction and conflict set in and our yearning intensifies until we experience a painful death of meaning that forces us to risk setting off in a new direction. If we can tolerate the tension of not knowing and not attaching ourselves to a particular outcome, a missing piece lands in our lap and we are reborn into a new level of comfort and re-connection to the Mystery. For a while. Until the cycle begins anew.
We experience this cycle in every area of endeavor throughout our lives. Each death is a troubling crisis during which we stop to question old ways and consider new ones. Each rebirth is another step up the spiral staircase. Our perspective broadens, we grow more aware of where we are, and we acquire more trust that we’ll eventually arrive at our destination.
So while I was disappointed about forgetting this morning’s dream and yearned to know its content, my frustration faded almost as quickly as the dream. Experience is a wonderful teacher, and after years of climbing the spiral staircase I can usually move on before long, trusting that something better awaits around the next turn if I can just stay conscious. Which makes me wonder… could what I’ve written here be what I’ve been dreaming about the last three nights?