Dangerous dreams

Posted on November 26, 2011


Dreams are strange things of that there is no doubt.  Sometimes they are entertaining, other times terrifying and at others just meaningless babble.  Occasionally, they make you sit up in a cold sweat not because they are nightmarish, but because of their prophetic power.

Last week I dreamt of a receding sea that left its bed exposed.  My partner and I walked along its muddy surface looking in the pot-holes that still held salty remnants.  Many of the divots contained hidden treasure – but of the very ordinary kind – sets of glasses, plates, cups and the like. My partner commented – ‘look, these things aren’t really that great are they?’ I agreed, but still we wandered, seeking out new discoveries.  The sea was of course receding because it was preparing itself to rush back in as a tidal wave.  A devastating force that would wipe all in its path away.  I woke up before the tsunami could be experienced, but a disturbing sense of calm sat alongside a more indistinct sense of foreboding throughout the entire dream.

My partner on the very same night also dreamt of the sea: a place she does not particularly enjoy.  In her dream, she was in the ocean when it began being sucked away, further out to sea.  Soon there was only the sea floor left, but it wasn’t long before the water rushed back in with the strength of a tsunami.

We both dreamt of an overwhelming disaster. In my dream we are distracted by unimportant trinkets in the face of certain destruction and were unprepared for its arrival, even though we know the trinkets are just that, and that the tsunami is coming. In my partner’s dream she is in the ocean and at the mercy of the tsunami: aware it is coming but unable to get away.

As it turns out family troubles struck us both this week, and perhaps this is one explanation for such synchronous dreams.  But perhaps there is another deeper reading.  Perhaps we are both tapping into an overwhelming sense of impending disaster that stalks us all.  The watery nature of the disaster tells us that while we know it will be overwhelming, we do not know quite why or how it can be stopped.  It is indeed unstoppable, and the only sensible thing to do is to get out of its way.  Yet, its destruction will be felt by others even if we were to escape.  It will alter landscapes, it will obliterate the things we obsess about from day-to-day (the cheap trinkets), and it will catch us unawares in its speed and intensity.

I hope these synchronous dreams are urgent calls to action rather than simply prophetic dreams of what is to befall us.  And if they are calls to action, how can we lift our heads up and not get caught down at the seaside without an eye to the horizon?

How can we as individuals make a difference against the power of the ‘tsunami’ – whatever shape that it takes?  I want to understand this disconnect I feel between the power of the individual (for example those who have joined the Occupy Movements) and the multi-nodal power of the financial crisis where no-one is in control, yet the direction and intensity of the crisis is able to be influenced by institutions, private and public alike.  When does one person’s commitment contribute to a global polity and when is it a lone act, unwitnessed, unacknowledged and without impact?  It is an obvious set of questions on one level – clearly, context, networking, communication and all of those politically savvy tools help turn one person’s cry in the dark into a movement, yet this is no science.  This is political morphology.  One thing grows while another remains static.

So, where should we as individuals focus our energy and attention in these times of great uncertainty?  More thought needed…..