This is not my beautiful house

Now, I have to say that I’m disappointed. All my life, I believed I had a special talent for:

a. dreaming, and

b. recalling the details of those dreams

Some may think it’s a rather pathetic thing to be proud of remembering your dreams, but please remember, we all have our own unique talents and not everyone is interested in sport.

Why, I’ve often amused myself for whole minutes at a time, recalling the details of what I was dreaming the night before. I’ve also entertained others (who were no doubt enthralled, as everyone is to hear someone else’s dream), especially if and when the dream involved halariously illogical, disjointed story lines, unrelated snippets of events, and people or animals who morph into other people or animals, or into something else, perhaps a mousetrap, an orange, or a rhino with boiled eggs for eyes.

Once, the whole process worked backwards. I woke myself up by laughing in my sleep, but then didn’t remember what I’d been dreaming. Maybe that’s not backwards, maybe it’s inside out. Anyway.

Lately, there have been two continually recurring themes popping up in my nightly (metaphorical) wanderings, which are so dull they are not worth mentioning to anyone. For this reason I thought I’d write a post about them. One of these themes in fact is so dull, it goes right off the Richter scale for dullest dream theme possible. It’s….paperwork. Pdfs, to be exact. Most nights I remember nothing else about these dull things. I just wake up feeling like I’ve been dealing with pdfs.

This is the cause of my disappointment. You’d have to admit, this Paperwork phase seems a real backwards step. When I compare it with previous dreams, suddenly even Rhino with boiled egg eyes begins to seem as rich and complex as Ulysses.

Why, just last night I woke up out a deep sleep, at 3am, with the red and white Adobe pdf icon looming in my mind. What, suddenly, my subconscious has nothing more interesting to apply itself to in the dead of night than compiling separate pdfs into a multipage document?

Adobe pdf icon

Not normally the stuff that dreams are made of.

In another dream recently, I’d promised a friend I would fill in some mysterious forms, but I’d left it too late, and was anxiously worrying about how I would tell her that I hadn’t filled them out.

At least the addition of guilty emotion into what I like to call The Paperwork Series provides a skerrick of fodder for a psychoanalyst – well, a bit more than a mundane dream about creating pdfs from word documents offers, anyway. Nevertheless, I am disappointed at the sad lack of boiled eggs, rhinos, handbags, my cat rotating around on a plate I’ve just eaten off,* or any other satisfyingly unrelated objects, or illogical plot developments that one would hope for in a dream.

If one must dream about pdfs, surely the very least that could happen in the dream is that the documents grow to gigantic proportions, tower over my work place, and start issuing commands to the tiny humans running around below them, in voices that sound like (old-style) Daleks. These current dreams, however, are so pedestrian that if there is any development to the series at all, it will probably be that I create a table of contents and put page numbers into the footer on the right hand side! Woo!

The other recurring theme that keeps popping up at the moment is houses. It’s slightly more interesting than the pdf dream, but only slightly. Every now and then, I dream that we have just moved into a new house, and I look around, and then realise with a sinking feeling, that the new house is actually a bit crummy on close inspection, and that the house we’ve left (always this house, the one I live in) was much better. It’s the old “sinking feeling” dream, over and over, about the same thing.

dilapidated house

 

On the plus side, at least the crummy house we move into looks different in every dream. (I seem to have an extensive catalogue of imaginary crummy, run-down houses. I guess I’ve lived in a few.)

 

Houses in dreams are rich containers of symbolism (more so than pdfs in dreams are, anyway). I’ve read enough Jungian psychology, or, truth be told, enough third parties quoting a dumbed-down version of Jungian psychology for people like me to dip into, to know that in dreams, the house functions as a symbol for the self. When I was younger, my recurring house dream was of being in a house that was both familiar and yet mysterious at the same time. It was always my grandmother’s house, but I would always come across rooms that had never existed in her real house. In real life, my grandmother’s house was always quite dark.

I’d be stretching the truth to say I can remember much about how those dream-rooms felt now, but they were at least true to the real house in that they were dark. That and the disconcerting element of them popping up in an otherwise familiar house imparted a sense of foreboding to my younger, dreaming, self.

Pic: Blathering

Pic: Blathering

According to Jungian theory, finding hidden rooms can mean that there are parts to yourself that are hidden in your subconscious. I have no doubt that was true when I was younger and still working out who I was. Perhaps I should be grateful that recurring dream has moved on.

But, armed with the knowledge that the house is a symbol for the self, it’s a little bit alarming that I’m regularly dreaming about leaving a house that I’m happy with, and moving into a house that looked ok at first, but on closer inspection, seems a bit dilapidated!

Maybe it’s the anxious dream of middle age,* signifying worry about beginning a slow decline, and the cracks beginning to show. (I wasn’t conscious of that being a major concern just yet – apart from at those disconcerting moments where I find that I have absent-mindedly put the red wine away in the fridge, and then wonder whether I’m losing my mental facilities.)

As for pdfs, try as I might, I couldn’t find any guide to what Jung thought about those. I suspect it simply means I’m spending way too much time on put headers and footers into them in my waking hours at work at the moment.

Either way, this latest, recurring house-related dream has been popping up intermittently for quite some time now. The dream has developed a little in that time, because now it has a meta-layer, i.e, in the dream, I have a sense of deja vu, and think to myself despondently, this has happened before in my dreams, but this time it’s real.

Perhaps because of this, when I wake up from this dream, that too is a cliched dreaming experience: I always feel a sense of relief, and think to myself, just as if I was a character at the end of a creative essay written in 30 minutes by some hapless student during a year-12 English exam, despite their English teacher’s warnings never to finish an essay this way,

“Phew – it was all just a dream!”

 

*

Pic of house: The Quietus

*cat rotating on a plate was from last night’s dream. She was shimmying her bottom back and forth, like a record being spun by a DJ.

**or a bit past “middle age” depending on your interpretation of what that means.

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6 Comments

  1. I believe I live in parallel universe where *your* dreams are *my* reality. I’ve taken on two office jobs just to find a house lately, which means I’m creating a LOT of pdfs in service of finding a home that won’t disappoint me or my family. Sooooo…there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Wow, there’s a concept! If that was true, I wonder which creates the other? Do I dream & that becomes your reality or does your reality dictate my dreams? If it’s the dream that comes first then I should warn you that I last night’s dream I was in s shopping centre or somewhere like that, and observed a group of men that seemed like they were British but slightly familiar from Hollywood films, cavorting around with shopping trolleys in a “tally ho lads” way (scenes from the beautiful 1981 Australian film directed by Peter Weir, called Gallipoli, where the soldiers are on leave in Cairo, would give you the right feel) but what strikes me as odd on remembering the dream (but during the dream gave no cause for comment) is that they were all wearing costume nappies and nothing else. You’ve been warned.

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  2. I seldom experience a dream whose narrative elements are so coherent that I remember them on waking up and can recount them to myself and others. I think I can count such dreams on the fingers of one hand and, perhaps because of that, I remember them.

    Dreams have a strangely compelling quality to them and I therefore understand why superstitious folk believe that they are messages from God or forecasts of the future. I dreamed of a friend who had died some time before and, though we had not been not close and I had not thought about him recently, the dream haunted my mind for several days. It would have been easy to see it as a ‘message from beyond the grave’ had I been so inclined.

    I do not believe that the ‘meaning’ of dreams is as straightforward as some people would have us believe. If the unconscious speaks in riddles, it is probably because the unconscious has no very clear idea of what it is trying to say. Nor do I believe that the objects that appear in dreams have fixed symbolic meanings. I see this as a reductio ad absurdum that favours only those charlatans who claim to ‘interpret’ our dreams. The house or the horse we dream of can be just a house or a horse. They of course resemble houses and horses we know because we cannot dream of what we have never known, only of what we have experienced.

    Why do we dream; what are dreams for? That, I think, is the mystery. They must serve some purpose because we all dream, both humans and other species. No theory of dreams that I have come across wholly convinces me. I think that, like religions, such theories may contain fragments of truth but none has put all the pieces together into a complete and coherent picture. One will perhaps emerge eventually but even then, I think dreams will retain their ability to amuse, intrigue and frighten us.

    (Where you dream of the ever-unfinished pdf documents, I dream that I have just stepped out of the workplace for a coffee break, suddenly realize I have been away for far too long but then cannot find my way back to work. This is probably the unconscious trying to express some inchoate feelings of anxiety.)

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  3. weebluebirdie

     /  July 8, 2016

    I’m thoroughly into my own dreams too. Though I have noticed that it is extremely difficult to convey the content to others. I don’t buy into the dream interpretation folk lore of generic symbolism for what we dream about. I think it all relates directly to our own lives, and is therefore highly individual. Although that’s an interesting point from Jung about the empty rooms. I had a recent recurring theme, well it happened three times in one week! I was buying a takeaway coffee for myself and someone else, and every time I walked out of the shop forgetting to take the coffee. I interpreted as being acute stress. I mean, I would have to be under a lot of pressure to leave coffee behind! It was interesting that I was always buying two; because I hardly ever do that, given that I have no colleagues working with me – that was clearly an anxiety theme of wishing to alleviate my isolation. Great stuff, the dreams!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Mostly I agree about symbolism being personal but I think the house thing is right – it seems to resonate with me anyway. I believe that you wouldn’t leave s coffee behind – you manage to work your love of coffee into many of your comments! I reckon your interpretation of that dream sounds about right. They are great, just one reason why I love sleep so much! 🙂

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