Happy news: science continues the slow process of catching up to what active dreamers already know about the gifts of dreaming. At the recent convention of the American Psychological Association in San Diego, presenters suggested that dreaming may improve memory, enhance creativity, and help us prepare better for future events.
Memory is mother to the muses, and in my playshop on the Healing Power of Story in Maryland over the weekend we found, again and again, that the best stories sprang from life memories, often from early childhood.
What’s on your key ring? Keys to house and car you use every day, and maybe a few whose exact use you’ve forgotten. A quick-scan card for the supermarket checkout, maybe one from your insurance company. Maybe a lucky charm or a souvenir a friend sent you from her vacation in Alaska. A miniature Eiffel tower, symbolic of your hopes of a spring romance in Paris.
Where can you find an inflatable cat-in-a-can, absinthe lip balm, zombie finger puppets and Last Supper mints in the same store? Archie McPhee’s (now in Wallingford) is a don’t-miss stop for me whenever I am in the Seattle area. I went there recently on an outing with a group of student-teachers from my training for teachers of Active Dreaming.
This just in from Marta, who was part of the expedition: “The day after I got home from our training, my sister shared a dream about zombies. We did some great work with it, and then I ran into my room and gave her a silly little zombie finger puppet that I had gotten at the magic shop. What a coincidence! The gruesome (and comical) little puppet reminds her of her dream message not to be a zombie, and to make a very important change in her work situation.”
The world around us will speak to us in the manner of a dream if we are willing to pay attention.
This doesn’t just happen when you go to a cabinet of curiosities as weird and wonderful as Archie McPhee’s. It can happen on any road, any day.
The zombie theme reminds me of a message from the world that could have saved me a bundle had I had the sense to act on it right away. Days before the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank – the event that ushered in what became known as the Great Crash of 2008 – I was driving to a local dream circle that I lead once a month. I’m not an active investor, but I have a few pennies in my pension fund, so I decided to listen to the latest financial news on NPR’s “Marketplace” report.
Halfway through the show, they announced they were going to run the numbers on the day’s stock market activity, a standard feature of the show.
Instead of giving the closing prices, the narrative switched to a mock news report about an entrepreneur who had been secretly producing an army of zombies in the bayous of Louisiana in order to create a market for a new product called Zombie-Gone, that would soon be in supermarkets and convenience stores everywhere. The skit was quite funny. But it began and ended without any explanation, which was quite startling – and I never got those market numbers.
When I opened my dream circle, I reported this curious dreamlike episode and speculated, “What would the message be, if you dreamed that you were waiting for stock market information and instead got a weird report about an army of zombies?” We kicked this around for a bit. Might it indicate that Wall Street and government types were behaving – or were about to behave – like zombies? Might it be an alert that it was time to “be gone” from the market?
I very nearly resolved to call my broker the next morning, with instructions to sell all stocks in my portfolio. But in the cold light of day some residual part of my psyche kicked in – a part that still second-guesses the spontaneous productions of the world-behind-the-world that show us what the daily calculating mind doesn’t see. Are you going to risk the financial security of your family by taking radical action because you heard a radio skit about zombies? lectured Mr Conventional Wisdom. Puh-lease. Be responsible.You’re invested in safe funds on the advice of expert planners. At least take the time to check things out.
So I stayed in the market, and got whacked by the zombies. The famous brokerage house that employed those “expert planners” is now the property of a bank. The “safe funds” they pushed me to buy are the only significant parts of my portfolio that have not recovered from the crash. The stocks that have notably outperformed the market are ones that I picked for myself – to the dismay of my then broker and Mr Conventional Wisdom – because of dreams.
Hmmm. Maybe I need to go back to Archie McPhee’s and get myself one of those glow-in-the-dark zombie finger puppets, and use it to give the finger to Mr Conventional Wisdom next time he tries to make me ignore a secret handshake from the universe.