It is not at all farfetched to compare weather with human life, for few things in our universe are so identical. We are born mysteriously into the world, very much like clouds, and we disappear back into the world just as clouds disintegrate into the atmosphere from which they came. The sky is as changing as human passions, and as spiritual in its ways as our own emotions.
(~ Eric Sloane’s Book of Storms)
Surprising, uncanny things blow in with the east wind.
There are crystalline moments when the air is thick with sudden, disorienting clarity and just a whiff of dread.
Lightening bolt eurekas. Startling updrafts from the deep.
Moments when we just know: that change is mandatory and imminent, that it is time to leave the job, or the marriage, that today is our lucky day, that we are suddenly, incontrovertibly heading in a new direction.
I watch my clients struggle with such moments of bolt awakening – wondering if it wouldn’t just be easier to fall back asleep.
I’ve watched too many resist, fight, ignore, self-medicate, dodge, weave and try to serpentine out of the inner callings to face their fears or to shake up their sense of identity, or to consider something important they have long ignored.
The first dream:
A sociology class requires that I design an experiment. I would like to design one that tests for responses to warm and cold environments and decor in therapy offices. The professor hates my idea and will have none of it. He slams down a sheet with the words SAVE THE WHALES and GREENPEACE on them.
“Do this!” he says “Look at this!”
I begin yelling:
“This is not my idea, not my way! I am trying to make my idea work! I want to do what I want to do! Not what you tell me to do!”
When your psyche asserts itself, it can send you on journeys that you had no intention of ever undertaking.
We all resist in our own way, no one really wants to take on the increased responsibilities of becoming more aware of ourselves or the world around us.
Avoidance is ultimately a costly choice – symptoms emerge, hopelessness, cynicism, boredom, anxiety and depression take hold. The sense of purpose drains out of life.
Suffering is too often the only warning we will heed before correcting our course.
“The business man goes his way despite the weather, more so each day. Instead of adapting himself to the weather his goal is to ignore it… If you want to attract a crowd on a busy street corner, just stand there and look at the sky. So few of us look aloft at all that within a few minutes a crowed will have gathered, staring with you.” (~ Eric Sloane’s Book of Storms)
Many of us have lost the awareness of the ways the weather effects our mood, affect and conduct – and similarly, most modern-minded people are dismissive of their nighttime dreams as random electrical neurological processes, detritus from the day, meaningless nonsense, instigated by rich food eaten before bed, or worse, implanted by televisions left on while falling asleep.
Dreams are an essential element of the atmosphere we move through, and learning to listen to your dream life is like becoming weather wise.
The second dream: ;
I am at the same school in a class with a kinder, gentler professor. He takes, what in my view, is a too strict, too extreme existentialist model – the past does not exist and has no further influence. There is only the present – and the course you set for the future of your community and the world by what actions you perform right now. I suggest that both reflection and action, both past influences and present choices must be taken into account, as well as deep responsibility for the consequences of our actions – predictable or not. He entertains my idea respectfully and as a result I am eager to listen more deeply.
Sailors, farmers and perhaps some pilots still know – not from the meteorological reports – but from the smell of the air, the feel of their bones and scars, the direction of the wind, the color of sky, the waves on the water – what to hope for, what to prepare for, what to brace for, what to fear.
Old sailors’ rhymes, weather folklore, almanacs relied on weather-mindedness, and an observational and intuitive awareness, a kind of dialogue with the world around us.
The Wooly Bear caterpillar, and the width of his central brown fuzzy band accurately forecasts how severe or mild the coming winters will be. Katydids and crickets react to the weather more quickly and accurately than thermometers.
But for the uninitiated, the chirp of the katydids, the ache in their knees, the subtle scent in the wind and the halo around the moon – if they are noticed at all – appear to be totally random, unconnected events creating no obvious narrative, no discernible through-line: merely nonsensical bits of data indicative of nothing.
Like the Wooly Bear’s coat, and chirping of the insects, dreams tell us about our own internal conditions, and how the internal winds of change will impact our energies, our mission and sense of purpose, our life tasks, our characters, and our fates.
The smallest adjustments in our inner atmosphere can create turbulence. Such windshifts always, absolutely always, involve facing some fear, the break down of some no-longer-necessary-defense, and are the cumulative result of a thousands of imperceptible shifts in thinking, behavior, experience, until some critical mass has been reached and the front beneath the previous way of life gives way.
Better sooner than later, I’ve learned.
When we are arrogant enough to assert our own agendas and ignore the weather and the rumblings on the horizon the scenario eventually goes unbearably stale, or worse, erupts or implodes without advanced preparation. Having something unsustainable forcibly torn out of our white-knuckled grip hurts far far more than proactively releasing it when it is still healthy to do so.
For the Navajo, it was the wind, that brought the Holy People, human and four-legged, from speechless existence in the underworlds to life on the earth’s surface and gave them language, thought and leadership.
(~ The Book Of Symbols – The Archive for research in archetypal symbolism)
Not that such updrafts actually lead to perpetual sunny skies and balmy weather.
More often than not, they involve a rush of clarity and optimism, gathering momentum and confirmation, followed by a daunting challenge, an unforeseen enemy (usually ourselves but not always), a ridiculous amount of effort, flat out exhaustion, even some wretched, self-fulfilling complaining about feeling burdened and misunderstood. As the pressure climbs, maybe even a stormy, irritable tantrum or two.
The third dream:
I have a male roommate who has filled our apartment with piles of dusty books:
‘Where did you get these books?” I ask.
“I don’t know” he says, “I never opened them. It’s too late in the semester now I can’t bear to look.”
I build and install shelves for all the books to be treated respectfully, and to be integrated into the room. When all is done there remains a pile of unshelved science books about plants, animals and climate studies. I toss the books behind the couch.
The roommate admires the way I can “just toss stuff away like it was never there.”
I wake agitated.
Our unconscious moves through and works upon us as surely as the weather.
Of course, I am just idealistically and existentially inclined enough to believe that when my internal weather report changes it does change everything. Just as I assume that the even minor-seeming transformations in anyone, you included, can effect everyone’s reality, (mine included) as well as the collective realities of the planet and the interconnected universe itself.
The impressive thing about our dreaming lives, and the wind and weather for that matter, is that they will perform their cyclic and compensatory functions whether we actually pay attention or not. They go on of themselves, regardless of whether we think they are worthy our regard.
The dreams recounted here took place on vacation, over four consecutive nights. I recorded them, as part of my regular psychospiritual hygiene, quickly forgot them as I did not feel at all like “working,” at anything. I spent no time amplifying them or analyzing them, and didn’t look back at them until a week or so ago.
During the daylight hours in between, I went on long runs and bike rides, meditated in the woods, explored the seashore, and hiked in wildlife sanctuaries and wilderness areas. I got a strange hankering to learn more about bird watching. I felt filled with sorrow at explaining to my children that so much of the wildlife we had seen, from osprey to horseshoe crabs, to monarch butterflies to codfish, to humpback whales were endangered or threatened, I swelled to bursting with a sense of gratitude for the fresh air in my lungs and the sea breezes, and the view of the Milky Way at night. I opened up a conversation with my husband about our sense of urban disconnection from our food sources, the effects of climate change and consumption on the world around us, and a desire to make a commitment to improve our household’s relationship with nature, to accept and face the new and coming realities for good and ill, and deepen our families sense of wellness and interconnection at the same time. I got a notion in my head to investigate ecopsychologal writings, an area I had only vaguely heard of and know little about.
The fourth dream:
I am about to fail an earth sciences class that I never showed up for. I meet with a department head – a plump, pretty older woman with curly white hair. She is wearing purple. She is kind, but I don’t quite see her face. She understands immediately, with little explanation from me, what has happened and what I need. I am assuming that I will be scolded for letting this go so long – but, she even seems to understand that this is painful and anxiety provoking and seems to think it is natural to have waited and avoided it for a time. She is not urgent or worried. I am impressed by her authority, compassion, power and intelligence. She is the author of some amazing body of work in a field that I am not familiar with. I am very grateful to her, and surprised that she has more compassion for my circumstance and my anxiety than I have for myself. I had felt guilty and ashamed that I had ignored it for so long, and her kindness and understanding makes me feel how upsetting it has been to have this looming over me unaddressed. She says I can meet the requirement a different way, in my own way, it doesn’t have to be strictly through the science department, or the political science department, but I do have to meet the requirement. It is mandatory.
The wind changes sometimes.
And it changes us with it.
We can accept, or we can resist,
and most likely we will do both alternately and repeatedly.
But we will all have to meet the requirement, one way or another.
copyright © 2012
All rights reserved Martha Crawford