In this very brief dream, I’m standing on a beach in front of a tree. The tree is next to the edge of a dune, has a few truncated limbs, no leaves. Its trunk is thick, solid, and supple, but looms like deadweight. Its roots are short like the limbs and planted in sand, their reach shallow with little else growing nearby to help anchor it. It’s been uprooted and is tipping toward me. It falls slowly enough that I can get safely out of the way. The dream offers enough of this experience to generate the impact of the emotional climate then ends before I either move out of the way or get crushed by the tree.
This tree offers no shelter, no support, no growth. The tree generates its belief of death and imposes this belief on me, even though my observation indicates the trunk is very much alive.
One thing I appreciate about a very short dream is that nuanced details are easier to draw out.
As this tree begins to tip and fall, there’s a sort of overbearing and impending emotional devastation which is underlined by the part of me that stands moved but fixedly enthralled, wanting, what?
I know I’ll be safe if I move. What am I waiting for?
The feeling of being enthralled in the dream is minute, though, compared to the negative emotion, but as I continued the process of working through the dream, it did, as a whole, suggest that the emotional climate could be reversed if other elements were reversed (the whole matter of reversals being good to examine in a dream).
The impact of this brief moment is crushing, still, though, emotionally if not literally. That the tree cannot actually crush me and its impact being wholly emotional rather than physical *is* part of the negative emotion generated.
The feeling is of crushed hope, crushed dreams. A pressing desolation. I’m not so good, as yet, at parsing out the nuances of my own emotional experience to articulate the feeling with more breadth than that.
The beach setting contributes to this emotional climate. I associate sand with the desert, as a symbol of emergent consciousness. Adding the oceanic element to the sand element creates the atmosphere of promise, of integration; it suggests to me the dynamic interplay of the emotional life and consciousness that generates sapience. It suggests an expansive churning and blending of two elements, where there is no danger of dissolution, as the pattern of relationship: there is a boundary, a border, defined by the shore—water cannot become sand, sand cannot become water—but at this border the two dynamic elements intermingle, permeate one another far beyond the shore. A beach is not arid, and an ocean is not without landscape. A shore is ever-shifting and responsive.
I could probably scrounge up a more detailed and concise reading of the symbolism, but I’ll stick for now with what comes readily to my own mind.
“Off-balance” is the first and probably most obvious point of critical interpretation, and I had to get that from an online search. The dream’s emotional feeling and the most immediate life event it felt connected to kept me foggy and fearful about its meaning, so I turned to outside sources first as my entry point. If I’d been able to tolerate (receive rather than defend protectively against) the feeling it gave me long enough to observe it on my own, I would not have needed to do that—the overbalance in that case is too much ocean not enough sand, a situation I then overcompensate for with too much sand and not enough ocean, over-thinking in ways that detach me from the fuller truth of the emotional experience.
Understanding fear as a “root” cause of the imbalance seems pretty essential.
Once I had the “off-balance” idea, and began letting it direct and unfold my thoughts where they were most willing to go, and also not very willing to go, I understood that the dream was reflective of my underlying conceptual relationship pattern with men. The tree easily becomes first my father, then the man who raped me as a child, then my step-father, then my children’s father, and etc. I decided nearly immediately, hastily, I was giving too much attention, weight and priority to male relationship in my life. Focusing on the foundation of being financially self-secure and self-reliant was a better focus.
Then it occurs to me, I have three male children. I have no desire, none, to give them less priority or less attention or less weight in the estimation of my life (so perhaps my initial thoughts were leaning in the wrong direction). Also, I have no desire to walk away from the possibility of or hope in someday having a relationship with my own dad, even if that’s a subject that I’ve allowed to gently subside for a time. For as long as need be.
Perhaps then, it’s the pattern itself and the emotional associations that need to shift, not the subject: the patterns are pervasive and underlie both subjects. Movement in one would serve the other as well.
The primary relationship is with the self, not with others or with money, though, so any external imbalance also represents one in my interpersonal self-concept; the source of subconscious patterns that shape and influence how I relate not only to others but to myself. I can imagine the tree as another person, or some other thing outside of myself, and that’s useful (the first, most useful way to begin, and why dreams take the form they do). But fully integrated, understanding every aspect of the dream as a projected part of myself, the tree represents the underlying conceptual relationship with my own spiritual life as a repressive rather than uplifting force.
That particular insight surprises me the most, as I’d always thought it was the other way around: the external circumstances of my life were repressive, my spiritual practice was uplifting.
Wasn’t it? Hadn’t it always been? Wasn’t that why I kept at it?
It was probably, exactly true for a long time. The old patterns of thinking and feeling that shaped my spiritual beliefs were necessarily out of balance, and I kept the patterns with me even as I grew and adapted them throughout life into new spiritual practices.
Now, as I’m healing from that early trauma and coming into better balance, my emotional life is finally able to exert more pressure on the thoughts and spiritual ideas that were too heavy-handed.
Fortunately I’ve rediscovered that the most useful spiritual ideas I’d been working with actually have room for exactly this sort of growth built into them.
The emotional experience is both the grounding and the potential for growth in the spiritual. My spiritual life informs my creative life, as well, and financial growth in any form is always a creative endeavor.
I believe what is needed, then, is a shift in my willingness to prioritize the positive emotional experience, even when (and maybe most especially when) to do so provokes nervousness. My nervous system is exactly what I’ve been striving to get back in touch with, all along. I just didn’t expect it to be quite so . . . nerve-wracking. 🙂
The imbalance has been in the emotional climate, and the predominance of my expectation of negative outcomes, which is probably based in the memory associations or programming that has governed my biochemistry. Becoming conscious of this allows me to create the future in a more intentional way, integrated rather than detached from the feedback my emotions and nervous system give me. It’s funny to think of it as simply needing software upgrades (though the imagery of the tree brings firmware to mind…), now that the organic hardware has been repaired and the mainframe restored.
That’ll take time.
All the seemingly overbalanced time I’ve spent focused on my own needs lately (or primarily, discovering what those needs even are, I’ve hardly even known until these past few weeks!) has helped me begin to do the rewiring, to allow what makes me feel good (emotionally and biochemically good) to become more dominant, more leading. As those things become established, old programming, old thought protocols, no matter how virtuous they may have been disguised to appear or how well they served my physical and ego survival previously, can’t hold up. Old software (and firmware) won’t work anymore.
The core truth of my own happiness remains, uncorruptible.