personal reflection & growth
"Dreams are Our Friends"
by: Edward Naughton
The nature of dreams and my own personal experience of dreams have not only been items of interest for me but also insights into self-awareness and the place of the unconscious in our lives. I believe in the saying, “All dreams are for health and healing” and that paying attention to our dreams can be significant for us. Having been a participant in dream sharing groups for several years I saw the value not only in writing one’s dreams but also in “unpacking” dreams with others. In such sharing we did not assume to interpret each others’ dreams but rather through invitation asked clarifying questions or suggested, “If it was my dream, this is what it could mean for me.”
In such a way the individual would be able to reach that point of “Aha, that’s what it could mean,” and be able to reflect more on the dream and its meaning.
Having been encouraged in my life “to follow your dreams” I was inclined as a lecturer to encourage students to pay attention to their dreams and see them as hints or aids as they sorted through life’s mysteries. A particularly bright and creative young student who had gone on to Law school after college graduation came to visit me after several years had passed. I had assumed that he was following a successful legal career until he appeared at my door and I was surprisedby his appearance. Though he expressed the same brightness and thoughtfulness of the past he was dressed surprisinglyin clothing not seen in boardrooms or attorney’s offices. I was curious and asked what he had been doing over the years and was surprised by the answer, “I am working as a crab fisherman in Chesapeake Bay.I found myself in Law school and after a while started wondering what I was doing there. I didn’t want to be a triallawyer, or legal consultant, or any of the other positions of the profession and I remembered your encouraging us to “follow your dreams.”
I quickly began questioning my earlier advice but as we talked about his life, work and relationships I saw the same happy bright young man. He was fulfilled in his own way and there was a joy is his remark, “I had always dreamed about being a crab fisherman and I am at home.”
I suppose it’s risky to follow one’s dreams and I believe it is important to consult with others in making life’s choices but I also see the frustration and emptiness of people who have put their dreams on the shelf because of practical concerns and still yearn to recapture the inspiration and energy of those earlier dream experiences. It is exciting to meet accomplished individuals who find the inspiration and courage to recapture the enthusiasm of their earlier years and their dreams.
It was time to take the dream off the shelf and live David Thoreau’s Walden declaration,
“I wished to live deliberatively to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
“Follow your dreams” need not be just a youthful axiom, a recurring interior desire but rather a constant reminder that we are, in our depths, more than we know in our consciously chosen lives. The courage to be true to our deepest selves, our inner truths, is both a gift and a challenge that is recovered time and time again if we dare “follow our dreams.”