Ominous Dreams

I don’t think my  Life In Turmoil dreams would give Carl Jung  a run for his money, although I would dearly love to call the old man up and ask his opinion.

The first to make its appearance is usually the tornado.  I spent most of my childhood years, and many of my mid-life years, living in Tornado Alley: Ohio, southern Michigan, Illinois–where tornados were a very real reality.  Many spring and early summer days we  anxiously watched the skies, and went to bed not knowing whether we would still be there in the morning.

I was nine or ten when the super-tornado swept most of Toledo, Ohio, into Lake Ontario.  I heard it roar over our house.  I was listening to a record at the time.  The turntable growled to a stop.  The dog ran under the couch.  The lights went out.  The roar and hissing in the dark sounded like the sky had broken loose from the firmament and was racing off on its own course, leaving the rest of the world behind.

And then just as suddenly, the noise stopped, the lights went on, the turntable started up, the record took up where it had left off, the dog came out from under the couch and sat licking herself on the rug, and everything was normal again.  We didn’t know what it was.

The next morning, my mother and I loaded up the trunk with the laundry and went to the laundromat.  It wasn’t there.  All that remained of it was the concrete slab it had stood on.  It was two miles from our house.

There are many more tornado stories, but you get the idea.  For me, the tornado symbolizes existential impermanence.  Of course the nature of our existence is impermanence itself.  Nothing about this life is permanent.  Everything is in a constant state of decay.  The human condition is a continuous fight with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Entropic Force that demands that the sum total of creation should find itself in a permanent state of impermanence.

Whenever the Tornado Dream appears, I know that my subconscious has Had Enough of wherever my present state of chaos has spun me. My Inner Self wants to get off the merry-go-round and live a nice stable predictable life, with a real bathroom and no bed bugs.  Or at least no fears that bed bugs follow me wherever I go, which what has happened ever since my Bed Bug Crisis last summer.  The fear, I mean.  I hope.

Hate to disappoint you again, Inner Self, but this particular brand of chaos ain’t goin’ anywhere soon.  We am Stuck Here until the last dog is hung.

The Second Archetypal Dream is the one where I am in my own dwelling (which is not necessarily a house, as is currently the case, as I am dwelling in what used to be my father’s ceramics studio–basically a pole barn), and I am looking for something.  I know where it is, but the problem is that the building keeps changing its configuration.  A room will become a closet (I have neither, but never mind), the bathroom is suddenly a parlour; there is a hall lined with closed doors where there was none before.  I open a door and find a Victorian bedroom with an old lady sitting up in bed reading.  She does not look up.  I try to hold onto myself and not be overcome by the wave of panic that is building like a tsunami.  Usually I wake from those dreams hyperventilating, drenched with cold sweat.

Last night I had a New Archetypal Dream, building and expanding on the Second.  In it, I had rented a small apartment at the top of an old apartment house, somewhere in the Middle East–it was hard to tell where.  The buildings shared some similarities with Pueblo-style architecture in that they had levels piled upon each other, many passages and nooks and crannies.  Very complex.

I had one of my late beloved German Shepherds with me.  We went out for a walk, and marveled at the denseness of the population, the many and varied apartment buildings that seemed to hold people of many different ethnic groups.

As we walked we began to get thirsty in the desert sun, and headed toward our own dwelling, only to find that we were in a part of town that we had never seen before.  There didn’t seem to be any order to the positions of the buildings: no North, South, East, West.  We were completely disoriented.  The neighborhood seemed to have expanded into a sprawling city, and we were walking in the baking noonday sun around the edges of the city, as if we had been pushed out by some centrifugal force.

Dog ran off, to find our apartment, I presumed, and to come back and get me.  My dogs were Search-and-Rescue trained, and that’s what they would have done, if I sent them.  I wandered in the direction of Dog, thinking he must know something.

Eventually he came back to me, panting, but I knew from his look that he had not found.  The sun was lower in the sky, though, so at least we had a sense of direction.  We headed North, not because we really expected to find anything, but because North is a good direction to go when you are lost.

I could not remember the name of our street, or the name of the apartment complex, or anything.  I suddenly remembered I had a cell phone, and was hoping I had the landlady’s number on it, even though she spoke I language that I didn’t; perhaps I might have noted the address in the contacts.

But alas, the phone had changed into a prism made of glass!  There was something written there, embedded in it, but I couldn’t make it out.

At last Dog and I found our way to an apartment.  It wasn’t ours, but there were some young people inside, and they were speaking in English!  The door opened and someone came out.  We slipped in, uninvited.  My chief concern was to get some water for Dog, who was panting hard.

There were several young hippie types in the apartment, but they didn’t seem to see us at all.  It was as if we didn’t exist.  So I found a bowl and got Dog some water but he wouldn’t drink it.  I was distressed about that.

And then we were outside on a patio behind the building, and there was an Arab lady hanging out clothes in the sunset.  I went up to her and greeted her in Arabic, but she also did not seem to know I was there.

Dreams Two and Three are about displacement on top of impermanence: not only is my world in immanent danger of total destruction, but now there is no place to go, no place to be.  What seemed real is unreal.  The solid has become fluid: the world is quicksand beneath my feet.  Just as solid ground becomes liquified during an earthquake, so has my life become now: no solid ground to put my foot on, because as soon as I take a step everything changes.

Not only that, but my person-hood has been erased.  Nobody sees me.  It’s as if I have become a ghost, wandering around looking for my resting place and finding none; seeking relationship, yet invisible to others.

And even my guide dog becomes blind in the glare of the shifting sands.

Leave a comment


  1. very interesting, and very astute analysis. makes me think of a book where a woman becomes invisible, in a similar way, by Whitney Otto, titled ‘Now You See Her, Now You Don’t’. if you have time for a read, try this out, seems to be same ideas being explored.

    and i hope you regain a sense of order, and permanence, or at least safety.

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

     /  November 10, 2013

    I can feel for you on these dreams. The tornado one seems to be one that visits you when there is commotion around you. Sounds fitting! I’m not a big dreamer, that would require REM sleep, something I don’t tend to enjoy that often. When I do dream, they are epic novels of brain discharge that require multiple pages in the dream diary. 😉
    Most dreams are just garble. I can forget them at soon as I leave the bed. However, depending on the amount of time I’ve thought about something, sometimes the dreams are horrific.
    Days before I moved to Florida, I had a dream that a mysterious group of ‘shadows’ were killing my friends and family in horrible ways I’ve never seen or read in stories. It was beyond real to me. I had to stay home and call everyone that day I was so panicked. My brain was obviously cutting ties with them, but in a kooky kinda brain way.
    I think dreams are a byproduct of a process similar to a computer defraging its harddrive. Most times, well after the dream, I can relate it to something.
    I do have a reoccurring dream, similar to your house dream, sans the old lady in bed! I enter houses I know are mine, but have never seen before. I’ve also had the same house pop up. Maybe I’ll find it for real some day… When I do, you’ll be invited to the party!
    I hope all of your chaos departs soon, and you can have some peaceful dreams, maybe of sugar plum fatties. I had to leave that typo, it cracked me up! 🙂

  3. Having sleep apnea kills dreams because I don’t have enough REM sleep time, at least by sleep study indicators. But I used to have two recurring dreams. And one was a Tornado dream as well! I think they are popular for change-fearing types. The other was a church that had endless floors. I could never get to the top. A form of Tower of Babel dream? Trying to find God? Don’t know…..

    • I feel very sorry for your sleep apnea. Actually I feel sorry for you, not it. Recurrent dreams are so interesting. I had two during my first year as an attending that drove me nuts, so I learned Lucid Dreaming and got rid of them. My hands hurt from typing (extensor tendinitis, f*ck) so I can’t elaborate, but another time 😉


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