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There is a commonly used musical technique called variations on a theme in which a particular theme is stated and then repeated in various ways with alterations to the theme made each time that theme is restated. In some renderings the motif may essentially remain intact where it is still easily recognizable as the theme originally heard, while other restatements may sound so radically different that only a highly trained ear and one having the knowledge of the progression of the theme sequence might be able to identify elements of the original theme. Each time the motif is played, the song remains the same but is presented in a different way.
In this post I am proposing that we sometimes might experience a similar effect that I will call variations on a dream. This dream state involves an image or story sequence that states the initial idea. Then, in either one continuous dream or a series of dreams that are interspersed between periods of waking and sleeping, the dreamer experiences a repetitive dream that may have variables that will change the outcome or direction of each dream story.
Here is my example:
In a dream experienced a few nights ago, I am taking the light rail from the station nearest my home to another location which I am expecting to be downtown Los Angeles. Nothing looks familiar to me, but I take it in stride. There is a sense of disorder to the place where I end up and my plans (what are my plans?) are apparently thwarted so I decide to return home. I feel lost and feel that I may have missed my train.
At this point I wake up and remain awake for perhaps twenty minutes as I consider a train trip that I am planning later in the week. I ponder my transportation choices, my destination, and the possibilities of things that could go wrong. I fret upon intangibles of the trip that I will be taking in a few days. I am afraid that I will not be able to get back to sleep and think about getting up to have a snack since I feel hungry. Then I eventually drift into sleep.
Image via Wikipedia Again I am going to be taking the train downtown. My son is with me. He is about eight years old. We are wandering through a vary large train station, but it does not look like any train station where I have ever been. We go to a vending stand to buy a snack to eat. We wander outside and walk on the sidewalk of an unfamiliar area. There are vegetation covered hillsides and no traffic on the streets.
Next I am at a train station with my father. We meander about the station. I go outside to where there is a traffic filled freeway. I see what seems to be a late sixties model car about to enter the freeway. This car pulls over to where I am and I see my friend Sebastian in the passenger seat. He thanks me for taking him to a party supply store where he found some items that were of use to him. In my memory I distinctly recall being in this very large party supply store with Sebastian and looking about for some time.
Once again I find myself in the train station. The place is huge, but I see no trains. Now I am with my youngest daughter. We are looking for a train.
I wake up thinking about trains. I am thinking about the train trip that I will be taking later in the week. I decide that later I will look on the internet to see what the train schedule is and also how much time it would take to go to the train station by bus instead of driving.
Here is my conclusion:
Later this week I am planning on going to meet with blogger Yvonne Lewis from Welcome to My World of Poetry. She is coming to Los Angeles for a few days and will be staying downtown. Since I am not comfortable driving my vehicle downtown I've decided that I would take the train on that day. However, since I am not accustomed to taking the train on a regular basis and have never taken the train to the particular location where I will be going, I am experiencing a little bit of apprehension.
My other experiences with taking the train have always gone well. Perhaps I'm feeling more uncertainty since the park and ride station is one I have never gone to on a regular work day. Or maybe I've become too accustomed to being at home and am uncomfortable with going out.
Whatever the case may be, I believe this series of dream variations is intended to help me work through whatever has been on my mind concerning the trip by providing some different scenarios of possibilities. The dream stories make little sense, but that is probably due to some symbolism. The latter factor may indicate a deeper interpretation could be in order, but on the surface I think the dream variations are primarily rooted in my apprehension about this future event.
A final thought:
Dreams that are sequentially segmented into variants of each preceding episode are probably a process of working through something that is on the dreamer's mind. This may be related to a problem for which the dreamer has been trying to find a solution, a fear the dreamer is trying to overcome, or some thought that has been weighing heavily upon the dreamer's mind.
But this is the simple answer. In reality the dreams probably exist on so many different layers and are so expansive that the previous paragraph is the part that I see immediately without looking much further. Much like the enormous train station in the dream story, there is so much yet to be explored. The dreams are deep and the variations could go on forever if my mind allowed.
Sounds like it was a busy night on the rails for you.ReplyDelete
I couldn't help noticing that after thinking about getting out of bed and getting a snack because you were a little hungry, you fall back to sleep and dream that you...ReplyDelete
...go to a vending stand to buy a snack
I think that's an example of the conscious mind manipulating the subconscious dreaming mind. There was probably NOTHING to be interpreted in that one part of the dream: you went to a vending stand to buy a snack ONLY because just minutes earlier, you were indeed consciously thinking of eating.
So, we do need to be able to differentiate between what is symbolically significant in our dreams and what is simply the conscious mind manipulating the subconscious.
'Loyal American Underground'
POSTSCRIPT: The Word Verification system is suddenly different. It requires that TWO words be typed in, and one is extremely hard to read. In other words, it's now a pain.
I do not recall ever having a sequence of dreams directly related to a problem-solving issue. What I like to do is think about a problem before falling asleep so my subconscious can work out a plan. Often, a solution will present itself during the following day. Maybe the dream sequence process stays in my subconscious.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing this thought provoking article!
Very interesting. Yes, I believe we can work through worries in our dreams this way, and that our dreams reflect what we're concerned with or pondering through. I've found that I can direct a dream to an extent if I wake in the middle of it. I can let myself sink back into it and go in a different direction. Obviously, it will take off from there, but I've ended dreams on far happier notes than they were going before, and I've helped set my mind at ease that way. Other times, of course, they have gone bad no matter what, or have gone the direction they were trying to go, despite what I tried to do. It's interesting to experiment with, though.ReplyDelete
Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z
Delores -- Every night is a busy night in one dream place or another.ReplyDelete
Stephen - The snack thing was on the surface pretty obvious but I'm sure there is still some level of symbolism to it. Sadly, I've now removed the word verification since Google screwed it up. What a mess.
Gail -- I've often tried to consciously will myself to dream of problem solutions. It usually doesn't happen, at least not in any obvious way. But more than once I've had the sequential dreams which provide different looks at something that has concerned me.
Shannon -- My goal is to understand what my dreams are saying to me, if anything.
Incidentally, my train experience went without any problems. Had a great day visiting with Yvonne and her brother.
Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on my post about dreams, as it's brought me to yours. I love the detailed way you've described your dream and the sense you've made of it. One thing I agree with is your closing sentence. "The dreams are deep and the variations could go on forever if my mind allowed." True for all of us.ReplyDelete
Very interesting dream Lee. I tend to agree with you that repeats of the same dream are a persistent attempt at redefining or clarifying the underlying the message.ReplyDelete