Sunday, September 19, 2004

Along a Calm and Clear River

My favorite poetry site, Poemhunter, is experiencing technical problem, and it will not be accessible until September 22. I can't wait that long, so I created a poetry site of my own, and called it Along a Calm and Clear River, where I reconstructed all my short poems.

It didn't take me long to decide on the title for my new site. It just came almost instantly, like a lightning flash. Perhaps, my strong Taoist orientation could explain that. The tao is usually symbolized by water.

But water is also a recurring symbol in my dream. Many times, I dream of bodies of water, like a lake, sea and river-- even a swimming pool, and fountains.

When I got promoted to a new position and unit in the office, an office mate showed me some sort of a dictionary of dream symbols, which says that a body of water in a dream represents forthcoming opportunities and challenges.

But then, I also recall, a friend who is a devout Catholic interpreted the blue sea in my dream as "Mother Mary"!


Blogger Stan said...

I can't resist commenting on this. I also have a lot of water in my dreams. Living in a house on a shore, or walking along a shore. Sometimes it's a stream but more often a shoreline. One really telling dream had me seeing myself standing knee deep out in the water. I reached down into it and lifted out a book. The book contained wisdom. I couldn't read it, but just felt it.

Well there are two ideas of dream interpretation I know of. The first and oldest tends to use dream symbols as means of making predictions. Often the predictions have very little to do with the symbols emotionally. The first analysis of your dream falls into this category. I fail to find any value in them. It's similar to the predictions of astrology, or, in ancient times, 'signs', like a certain bird seen flying on a certain day.

The other type of analysis, sees dream symbols as being visible representations of emotions. The symbol is not a symbol of a word or an idea as you normally think of a symbol, but of a feeling. This is the kind of symbol that works so well in a poem. In my dreams, the feeling of the ocean is one of depth, of a vastness I can't see into, and which contains a lot. It is more akin to the depth of soul than of spirit, if you know what I mean, soul being maybe the deeper parts of a person, and especially the unconscious part of the mind, where one might find wisdom, a sense of connectedness, wholeness, etc, etc. Anyway, this is how the water seems to me and it always fits this description in my dreams. Standing on a shore implies a longing for that depth, which I imagine you, like I, have. In my dream I described above, my view of me reaching in was a view from the shore, in other words it wasn't me doing it, but represented what I wanted to do, or what I should do.

Of the two interpretations you quote, 'Mother Mary' is very close to what I'm describing, I think, her being doorway through which one can reach into the depth of existence, I suppose either back into your soul or beyond.

How does that sound?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Stan said...

It just occurred to me that the water and Mother Mary are both symbols representing the same thing. Your friend interpreted the water as representing Mother Mary. But it seems more likely that the feeling he/she got from the symbol of the water was the same as that from Mother Mary. In that case, where the water is how the unconscious mind describes that depth, Mother Mary is how the conscious mind describes it. The conscious mind has been introduced to the symbol of Mother Mary, whereas the unconscious mind searched around for something to symbolize the same feeling and came up with water.

9:54 AM  
Blogger roh mih said...

The second explanation seems more convincing. I also notice a pattern in my dreams: in my earlier dreams, I was afraid of the water, it evokes a feeling of fear in me, coupled with curiosity; but then in my more recent dreams, I'm already swimming in the water.

Here's another interpretation of one of my dreams by a friend, although he said this jokingly: the scene where I'm swimming, he said, is actually a representation of my "creation": when father's seed meets mother's egg inside her! Very Freudian, isn't it?

12:27 PM  
Blogger Stan said...

The trouble with the Freudian analysis is it's too much of an idea, meaning a conscious thing, to be the creation of your unconscious mind. The only way your unconscious would make such a dream with that meaning is if your conception and it's manner was a huge thing to you emotionally, and consciously - then your unconscious mind would latch onto the idea too. Which is pretty doubtful. But only you would know that. Which indicates the best way to interpret it, or any dream. Ask yourself, not a professional interpreter, how you feel about it. Feelings reach your unconscious easily whereas many ideas don't. And therefore came back at you from there as dreams.

Coincidentally, or maybe not (as I had just written a comment to you about water), on Sunday I woke up remembering parts of three dreems, something I haven't done for a long time. And the last one had a river in it. I was at some fancy resort (which I could never afford in reality) and several of us rode horses out with a guide. We came to a river, and across the river was some fabulous place, a place that had not been mentioned in the resort literature. The others went across, and came back, but I couldn't because I wasn't ready somehow, didn't have the right horse, I guess. Interestingly the horses went across completely submerged, with the riders on their backs, like you swimming.

I know I'm going on and on here, but I have to tell you of a couple experiences I had that relate to your previous poem where you drink some water while seeing your priest give a sermon beyond the glass. They may help explain it. These were real experiences. When I was younger I went for some long hikes in the mountains in Alberta, each lasting a week, by myself. On one, when I was returning, I came to a waterfall, not a big one but unexpected in the forest and very beautiful to me. I had to get a drink of the water, desiring it to the point that I put out a lot of energy and risk to get a cup full, and had to drink several before I was satisfied. I was surprised at myself for that. In my next two trips, walking along the side of mountain ranges, fairly high on the sides of the mountains, but on grass yet, every time I rounded a corner I would come to a little stream trickling down through a channel in the grass. I had a strong compulsion to stoop down and scoop water up into my mouth. Eventually I was so full of water I couldn't drink anymore and just splashed it on my face. This compulsion never started till the third day of the hike, when I had been away from civilization and other people long enough for my unconscious feelings to surface. I think in that state the vision and sound of running water was like the visual part of a dream, the rest being cued from my unconscious: the desire, which would normally be the feeling in a dream of water like that. So your poem of drinking from water when you see the priest giving his sermon is very much like my feeling on my trips. The priest's sermon cued your unconscious desires for deep meaning, spiritual depth etc that the water symbolized to your unconscious. It's very interesting that you are looking at the priest through a glass, and presumably can't hear him. It separates you from his words, from what he would be saying to your conscious mind, leaving you with your unconscious, silent desires on this side of the glass!!! And here's more: if that wasn't an actual dream you had that you wrote as a poem, but actually a poem written from an event that actually happened that way, it indicates how in touch you are with your unconscious in your day to day life, that it should be so close to the surface as to present itself in this manner, like a waking dream. Although, what can make a person more prone to this, as I can vouch for, is to write poems often, which means you are always waiting for a poetic feeling in your day, which is typically mediated by your unconscious. Another possibility of how you wrote the poem was totally out of your creativity, not having had it actually happen to you, in which case, the image that came to you, when you were struggling for a way to describe a feeling possibly about the priest or sermons, etc, came to you very quickly from your unconscious. This is the way I love to write poems myself. The essential images and even words come automatically.

4:00 AM  

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