Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slumbering Wisdom

Sometimes I think I’m smarter when I’m unconscious. In various religions, particularly Buddhism, the sages talk about the benefits of an “awakened state.” However I think there is a lot of wisdom in our dream-state while snoozing.

Let me explain.

I believe dreams can be a way for your subconscious to slip you a secret message. That’s why parables work better in many cultures than preachy sermons. We may have something important to learn but our ego doesn’t want to hear the message too directly. No one likes to admit what they’re doing is wrong, even if our misguided efforts are obstructing our happiness.

I’m no psychologist but I enjoy interpreting my own dreams. When my kids were little I would analyze my daughter Brittany’s nocturnal messages. In my infinite wisdom I told her all her dreams had one of two messages; to clean her room or practice her violin. It didn’t matter what her dream was, that was my assessment. Her older sister, Alicia, saw through my ruse and kept her dreams to herself.

For years I have had a dream where I’m on vacation in Hawaii (or living there) and it’s time to move away.

Suddenly I realize I have never visited my favorite beach. To make matters worse, time was running out. Sometimes time HAD run out and the movers beckoned at the door.

After years of having this dream, I think I finally know what it means. I’m not living enough in the moment and enjoying the beauty in my own backyard. It doesn’t need to be physical beauty, it can be symbolic of other wondrous components of life. I believe some dreams remind us of our goals. Other dreams expose our fears. Other dreams expose other things. Who hasn’t a dream where we are in a public place and realize part of our clothing is missing?

One of my favorite lines in a movie is from Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan refers to those dreams in which the dreamer finds herself walking naked in public places and Rosie ODonnell states, “I love that dream."

But back to my analogy about missed opportunities. I adore fall colors, but my hometown in Arizona doesn’t experience the typical seasonal changes. However, I’m working temporarily in Port Angeles, Washington where autumn is in its full glory. I can look out from my dining room table and see a variety of trees and bushes burst into hues of red, orange and golden leaves.

I also enjoy the cool, crisp air and the scent of fireplaces. However, rather than venturing out, I spend a lot of my day sitting on my butt typing on the computer. Sometimes it feels like I literally have to pry myself from my sedentary position to enjoy the cool outdoors that spreads out in front of me.

Once I challenge inertia, I enjoy walks through the neighborhood. The problem is sometimes it’s hard to get started. I surf the net more than I feel the sea that blows blocks from my home office. There is a great book about flow, that feeling where you are so absorbed in the moment that time ceases to exist. We’ve all experienced flow when we are immersed in activities we love. Musicians, artists, authors, athletes all experience that moment of peak performance when you feel “in the groove.” I have often had that feeling when I’m walking. I’ve yet to feel it when I’m checking facebook.

A great quote to illustrate this point is from one of my favorite comediennes, Lucille Ball who said. “I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven't ."

I know we all have responsibilities and busy lives. I’m not advocating we toss it all aside and do everything our heart desires and throw complete caution to the wind. However, we could make a small promise to ourselves to do one fun or heart-felt action each day. One simple step would be to ask a simple question before turning in for the night.

“Was I a little better today than I was yesterday?”

The “better” in that equation can be erasing negativity, living a more purposeful life, improving relationships or simply taking the time to embrace the beauty of nature. With this nightly ritual to keep you on task, you will take positive steps to living your dreams – especially when you’re awake.

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