Dream catchers and fantastical jellyfish
Writing and dreaming are more or less the same thing.
Perhaps they are. This week took me on a fantastical journey that started with my pen, continued with a dream, and ended with a tangible manifestation in real life. My apartment would be stock full of dream diaries by now if I’d been writing all of them out since I started remembering them. I wonder what my life would look like if I had?
The journey began with a visit from one of my ALOUD favorites, Pico Iyer-a humble soul, alive with stories and insight, and a keen intuition. Pico is a travel writer with a sensibility and compassion found among few. He was extolling the life of Graham Greene and quoting him, “Writing and dreaming are more or less the same thing,” and added, “With dreams, we write our futures.” My thoughts hung on these words, dancing around the possibilities that they promised, fascinated by the dreamers’ journey and unsatiated by my meager attempt to explore my own dreams more deeply.
Later that week in email correspondence with my cousin, I summoned sea imagery in a creative letter updating her on life and the latest happenings, describing the current among the multiple seas in which I sail. A day later in my dream, I found her with me on a magical journey aboard a ship in Lisbon’s bay, with beautiful white jellyfish undulating in the waters below. I was entranced by their movement and translucent bodies, yet perplexed at their presence in a bay to which they were not native. Curiously, while standing on the ship’s deck, I was relating this scene to my boss,a well-traveled man who ceases to surprise me with his knowledge about even the most odd of subjects. In this case, jellyfish.
“Oh, you must watch closely as they move, for every contraction they make their translucent white bodies turn into an iridescent pink/purple. It’s simply the most magical of things.”
The ship docked and we deboarded, only to reboard another water craft- this time a purple inflatable one, which led us on an even more fantastical odyssey through an Amazonian landscape with foliage and fauna so vivid that I can still see it in my mind, three days post-dream.
I woke up filled with awe; the sea and animal life made the strongest impression. The presence of my cousin seemed normal, yet the cell phone conversation with my boss was hard to place. And the significance of the jellyfish?
Dangerous beauty. That’s what the dream dictionary tells me.
Meanwhile, a day later in the conscious world, a work situation came up involving some artwork we’d planned to use on a marketing piece. Hand drawn by an artist/author who will soon be visiting, the piece itself was powerful and striking. It was beautifully provocative in nature, yet raised a red flag in my boss’ mind about the appropriateness and placement of the piece throughout the city’s library system. He rarely intervenes with things of this nature, but the doubt in his mind was strong enough for him to voice an opinion that will unfortunately sideline us from using the image. He felt it threatened to place librarians in an awkward and defensive position. Disappointed, I questioned how our role in supporting the library and exploring the arts while creating a safe place for dialogue through the series, is still submerged in city politics and conservatism. But with this particular instance, we just have to sail the winds that blow along a steady course.
Later in the day I was recounting the dream to a friend and when explaining the symbolism of the jellyfish, the light went on! Dangerous beauty: precisely the situation at hand with the marketing piece and my boss’ decision. It all came together, including the pre-dream real life action of striking up seaward conversation with my cousin, and later finding her onboard with me in the subconscious dreamscape.
Writing and dreaming really are more or less the same thing. We just have to start paying attention to the undulating translucent bodies that connect the two. Lovely discoveries await.