Why do I do it?

In the beginning I wanted to tell stories but I didn’t know any. Writing courses focus on how to tell the story you want to tell, but what does it mean to be a writer with no story to tell?

All I knew was the taffy-pull of moments, the energy exchange of encounters. Nothing ever happened in the stories I told. Nothing above the surface at anyrate.

Plot is a complete mystery to me.

I also am a dunce at making things up. My mind is very good at building boxes and walls and straight lines, but, yawn, I do not believe in straight lines. I don’t inhabit straight lines. They don’t feel true to me.

The problem for me really was that I really only wanted to tell the truth. I didn’t trust anything constructed and I have no affinity for diversion.

But still, I knew that telling was key for me and that tellings required action to carry readers along. What’s the point of telling if no one ever walks through the door?

Eventually it came to me that things happened in my dreams. Interesting and vital things. And that my dreams weren’t diversion, they were true. They were my story without the trappings of what I tell myself is true because I want it to be.

So I started to pay closer attention. I started to listen. And then I discovered that remembering dreams was really hard for me. Apart from the really vivid wake up call dreams I couldn’t pull them through from night into day.

Transitions have always been hard for me. I go too slow or I go too fast.

So then I began a study of dreaming, looking for guidance on how to remember better, how to make my awareness more robust. This began with reading about lucid dreaming which is sort of the opposite of what I was after, having no desire to impose my will on the dream state, but rather to apprentice myself to it. I wanted the job of secretary to my dreams, of confessor, audience, biographer. 

The texts on lucid dreaming do include clues on how to improve your sleeping and your dream recall and all of that was helpful. Those texts led in turn to teachings on waking dreams, shamanic journeying, the act of willfully venturing into a dream state and doing work there and returning with the fruits of it. I developed this practice and it changed me. So much healing took place. And I saw how, as I healed myself, those around me began to heal too.

So it became very clear to me that dream work was healing work. And that for me dream work was telling. Telling was dream work. The telling of dreams. That shift from brick and mortar and the expectation of straight lines, fixed contexts to the singing of what wanted to be sung. That a single gesture might be sung in many different ways and all of them true.

The work of dream telling is a work of awareness and recall, of listening to detail without losing them to concept, that folding up and concluding: x = y and that’s that, all nuance lost. It is the work of listening through detail to rhythm and flow, what is echoing and repeating. The wisdom in that.

Just paying attention is healing. Just singing it through. 

If I can get ahold of a hard dream, loss and injury, betrayal. If I can receive that and sing it through, it eases. I am clarified, strengthened.

So doing the work for myself is clearly beneficial. But tellings want to be shared. And so I have been wrestling with how to share dreams in a way that retains their essential dreaminess. I don’t recall any work of fiction or theater or cinema that treats dreams in a way that feels authentic to me. There’s probably something out there, but I can’t call anything to mind.

It’s not the sort of thing you would just sit down and read one to the next, beginning to end until you’d read them all. I don’t know that doesn’t feel right to me. Cloying. Some other way of dipping in and out. Some more fluid way of moving from one to the next, of the nextness of what comes next which shouldn’t always be the same.

And each dream has so many layers to it’s telling, how might that be navigated?

And maybe the dreams need frameworks of ordinary to make them more digestible.

Recently I have begun to play with a divination approach to the dreams that is thrilling me.