I’m in favor of approaching both the night and the day with intention. My intention, as I approach sleep, may be simply to rest and recharge and get some quick industrial sleep. When I’m in the midst of a more-than-usually crazy work and travel schedule, I may simply say to myself, “I would like to wake rested and full of creative energy When I’m in the midst of writing a book, I don’t mind missing detailed dream content (unless, of course, it can feed directly into the part I’m working on); I would rather wake with a sense of direction and rhythmic connection to the writing. Sometimes I wake with words streaming in me like waves, and move with those waves as I tap the keyboard.
We can ask for a dream of guidance on any issue that is facing us, and when we’re lucky the dream can take us out of the boxes of the everyday mind’s approach to that theme.
A big example in my life as both writer and dream teacher was when I was in a quandary about how to move towards publication of Conscious Dreaming, the first of my books on Active Dreaming. My literary agent at that time found a great editor for that book, and she was eager to publish. However, my agent had also asked a great deal of money for the book – startlingly more than is usually paid for anything on the field of dreams. He had asked my opinion about the number he had in mind, and the question had made me queasy, because I had gone off on my own to write this book with no commercial expectations; I was simply doing the Work I was called to do. Still, authors use agents to advise them on practical things like money, and I felt I could hardly ask my agent to ask for less money from a publisher than he thought he could get. The editor was shocked by the figure proposed; did we have any idea of the sales numbers for even the most popular books on dreams? She suggested a much lower number as the most her house would pay.
What to do now? Go touting my love-child around the town in hopes of big bucks? Troubled, I asked for dream guidance. I dreamed I pulled up at a period Esso station to get gas, but overshot the pumps because my engine was overcharging. I had to back up and it took time and finesse to get the nozzle in the tank and then the numbers on the pump went up very slowly. At the end of this procedure, however, I had all the gas I needed and took to the road in fine good spirits.
I wrote my snapper from the dream: “I’m overcharging. I have to back up and use some finesse to get reconnected.”
I reported my dream to my agent and instructed him – following its exact guidance – to back up, renegotiate with the original editor, and make a deal. The renegotiation required us to accept a lower figure than before. But then I was off on a terrific journey.
That journey brought me, a year later, to a date with a columnist for the Contra Costa Times at the Embarcadero cinema in San Francisco. The columnist liked to take interesting people to the movies and then use the film as a conversation starter at a cafe. According to my publicity schedule, we were going to watch “Who Shot Andy Warhol?” together.
The night before the movie date I dreamed I was in a damp northern landscape where a willowy blonde resembling Catherine Deneuve was coming on to me, while people marched about under umbrellas. When I got to the Embarcadero cinema, the columnist told me the schedule had changed; we were now going to watch the re-release of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” starring Catherine Deneuve. It seemed I had previewed the movie the night before. But this was not the most interesting thing that unfolded in the cinema.
“The Umbrellas of Cherboug” is outrageously Freudian. Every time an umbrella goes up or down, or a wine cork is popped, that’s about you-know-what. The hero of the story, whose name is Guy, or Everyman, has a dream. He wants to own a gas station. When his dream is realized, I found myself looking at the gas station from my dream, amazing confirmation that I had made the right choice.
Making the correct link between the dream and the intention that preceded it may take some detective work. Had I been a Freudian, I might have missed the message of that fussing around with the hose and the gas tank!