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Slappy Dreams

by Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I have a lot of dreams, dreams that come with sleep. I break these dreams down into two general categories: dreams with and dreams without emotion. The "without" variety are normally quotidian, just some mundane slice of life, often accompanied by certain wierdnesses, nothing special. In these I am almost an observer of the action, somewhat detached. The most compelling of this category is a recurrent dream in which I am at college and I suddenly realize that I have completely forgotten about a class in which I am enrolled. I have neglected to attend this class for the better part of a semester and there'll probably be hell to pay.

Dreams in the other category, dreams with emotion, are compelling and prophetic regarding my personal life. They are imbued with drama, force and importance. I look to them for meaning, and I am never disappointed. I had one last night.

In the dream there were two persons who were acting in a movie. Their scene was being filmed, but in the dream there was no obvious presence of cameras or crew. It was just the actors, a man and five or six year old boy. The action of the scene involved the man repeatedly slapping the boy. It was a scene of oppression. The slaps were real; they were not staged. The boy was struck to the ground beneath the blows. As he crouched on one knee, the slaps continued. The boy himself resented the blows. In this he was not acting. His face was splotched red and white. He was being hurt, repeatedly. It made for good cine.

One approach to dream interpretation is to view everything in it as you. If in the dream you are running away from a madman chasing you with a knife, of course you are the one running away, but also, you are the madman chasing and the knife.

What does my slapping dream mean? What is it announcing about my being? What has been or is to be learned?

Lesson 1: The Boy Being Slapped
I am the boy slapped. The boy is part of a play. Something is being acted out. The man slapping me is following a script. It is nothing personal. Buddhism teaches that the belief in personhood, in your own existence as a continuous person, is an error of mind. Sometimes, as a doctor, if our visit goes in that direction, I tell my patients, "You don't exist, at least, not like you think you do."

I suffered emotional blows, as a child, at the hands of my parents. My parents were following a script. They were acting out their own unfinished emotional dramas. It wasn't me. It wasn't due to a fault or inadequacy of mine. It wasn't as if I could have stopped it by being more like this or less like that. It implies nothing about my intrinsic worth, not then and not now. I don't have to read into those blows. I don't have to feel guilty. I don't know that I can lay it to rest, but now, at least I can stop stirring it up; leave the wound alone; stop poking at it.

Lesson 2: The Man Slapping
I am slapping myself. I am acting out what was done to me, not with physical blows, but emotionally, not allowing myself love, fulfillment, abundance... Although, since language is powerful, I should put it on the past tense, "I have been slapping myself. I was acting out what was done to me." It is dreams, realizations, admissions like these which mark turning points where things can change. When you become conscious of the phenomenon you gain a certain freedom to do it differently, to not act it out so brutally. Freud, "The repressed remains primitive." Dr Dave, "If you want it to be less hostile and obnoxious to you, try being less hostile and obnoxious to it."

Lesson 3: The Slaps
Then, also, I am the slaps. The emotional blows I deliver to myself come in at least two varieties:

a) There are the injuries I receive from the world, the wounds I receive from the insensitivities, the affronts of strangers or, more frequently, intimates. Complaining of such to my daughter last week she suggested, "Maybe you need to be less sensitive?" And she was right. Yes, they are "the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune," but usually they are hollow gestures, hurtful enough, but, as for the man giving the slaps in the dream, without gravity, done without malice, nothing personal. These "slaps" have, mostly, the importance I give them. If I need to use them to revisit some repressed contents of my psyche, then it is my use of them that empowers them, not them in themselves. I need to take my own counsel, "People should not be blamed for acting into your own psychodrama"; not my girlfriend, not the waiter in the restaurant, not the person who cuts me off in traffic... I've been misperceiving intentions, not being able to see beyond my own unowned, unfinished business. Like the woman who had a bit of shit stuck to the side of her nose, who thought everything and everyone smelled bad.

b) There are the injuries I give to myself. These have been much more frequent, stronger and better aimed. No one knows how to get to me like I know how to get to myself; regrets, recriminations... mostly over trifles. For me the question has been, "Is the glass 99% full or 1% empty?"

But this slappy dream is a revelation; it prophesizes a change, a new epoch in my life. And I have felt different these last few weeks. There is a strange, growing ease and fullness.

To quote the Bard again:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts..."

As in a dream, our life is a stage, on which we play many parts. (My slappy dream was literally theater. The dream's plot was the filming a movie.) As in a dream, every part is you, every separate and distinct point of view. As in a lucid dream, sometimes instead of suffering blindly, we can realize that we are dreaming, that we are acting. And then we can modify the script, to roll with the punches, not to take the slaps so hard.


Dr David is looking for authors to contribute to San Miguel Sunday. He is also looking for people who want to add more meaning to their lives. See his new website below.

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