What do recurring dreams tell us? Have you ever had the same dream, or similar dreams, night after night?
Recurring dreams feature prominently in my forthcoming novel, the latest book in the Majek family mystery series, I See You. In the novel, David and his family experience similar dreams, linked to a mystery from the past they are drawn into solving.
In my own life, I’ve studied dream interpretation. I first made sure it wasn’t against my faith (it’s not; the Bible is full of dreams and their meaning) and then I set to work studying patterns and symbolism.
Dream interpretation and meaning is a private matter. Symbols take on shades and meaning depending on the dreamer, their life experiences, their cultural affiliation and more. And yes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (sorry, Freudian fans).
Over the past several weeks, I’ve repeatedly dreamed one of two dreams. Sometimes they alternate. Sometimes a week goes by without one. But both came up continually until I took action in my waking life to address what troubled me.
Dream 1: The Train Station
In the first dream, I’m walking through the equivalent of Penn Station, New York City. This was my commuting hub for many years. The smell in my dream is vivid – yes, I can smell things in dreams. Subway stations and train stations in New York City have a very strong odor of grease, sweat, and a hundred other things you don’t want to think about.
The floor also feels gritty, especially in subway stations. Sometimes it is sticky. You don’t think about that, either.
In my dream, I’m hurrying to the kiosk to purchase my ticket. When I get to the kiosk, I can’t get it to work. I punch in the wrong numbers for my credit card. I realize I have no money. Or the ticket prints and I accidentally lose it somehow. I can’t get on the train.
Other variations of this dream find me getting on the wrong train and ending in Holbrook instead of Huntington where I used to live or taking an odd subway and ending up in a strange place. I never arrive at my destination and I spend the dream searching for my ticket, stumbling through strange places, or frantically trying to find the right train to get to my destination.
I wake up feeling frustrated and upset.
Dream 2: No Passport
In my second dream, I’m either embarking on a business trip or a school trip. The school trip dream is fun because I am back in high school. I enjoyed high school!
In both dreams, I arrive at the airport and am in the terminal with my luggage. I am meeting a group of people. I step onto the line to board the plane. It is only on the line, or at the counter, that I realize I needed a passport…and I do not have one.
Sometimes, I find myself traveling to the destination, which is usually Paris or Hong Kong, and am told I did not need a passport, only to find when I get there that I did. Sometimes I have to hurry and apply for a rush passport to get to where I want to go. At other times, miraculously, I am waved through.
Never have I turned back because of my lack of passport in my dreams. Sometimes I am simply waved through, or overlooked. At other times, I am able to complete an emergency set of paperwork and receive the appropriate documents. I wake up feeling relieved.
What Do These Dreams Mean?
Here is how dream interpretation works for me: once I decode my dreams and realize their meaning, they stop. It’s as if my subconscious, relieved that it is being heard, thanks me and moves on to another life problem.
For the past several years, I have felt the call on my life to focus on my fiction. I have felt deep in my spirit God saying, “Write. Just write. Don’t worry about anything else. Tell the stories I’ve given to you.”
I have a story map hanging over my desk with at least 12 novels mapped out that I would like to write. But my full-time work as a marketing manager and marketing writer keeps me from working longer hours on my novels.
This frustration led to my recurring dreams of the train station. Trains, subways, and stations in dreams represent the flow of your life and the destination your life is headed towards. Your personal journey through life is the train. In my dreams, I cannot get to my destination. Sometimes I can’t even get on the train. I lose my ticket (my entrance into the journey) or I cannot find the destination.
My subconscious was telling me that I wasn’t following my heart’s path and that I was slowly losing my way. I needed to make a big, bold move to step onto the right train.
The second dream also represents my life’s journey as planes represent it but more so the higher element, the soul or spiritual journey. Notice how in this dream, I don’t have a passport. A passport is an official document or “permission” to embark.
In my dreams, I don’t have “official permission to embark on my journey.” But note: I do so anyway. And it all works out.
One of the things I struggle with frequently is the notion of being judged on my job title or my job itself. When I worked in Manhattan and had impressive titles, car service, an expense account, and at one point two administrative assistants, I felt important. I had my nails done at the salon weekly and wore expensive clothing. I felt like I was Somebody.
But it’s all ephemeral, wrapping paper on the same gift inside. The same Me who walked calmly into meetings of 250 people and addressed a packed ballroom is also the same me who dons jeans and workboots and heads out into the garden to dig weeds alongside her husband and till the soil. Whether I live on my 17-acre farm, work outside in the morning and write in the afternoons and evenings or take a subway to work 12 hour days in an office building, I am the same person.
My dreams are telling me to go, to embark on my life’s mission. They are telling me it will be okay (I get there without a passport) and that if I don’t start soon I will miss my calling; I will end up at the wrong destination. (Poor Holbrook! Why does my subconscious pick on that lovely little town? Holbrook = hole in book =hole in my book of life, or a big missing part of myself).
I am entering my 50th year on this planet, and with it, the feeling of a clock ticking. No longer do I have the luxury of time. This month, I cut back on my client work to free more time for my life’s passions, the farm and garden, and my writing. The clients I retain will be enough. I have more than enough. What I do not have more than enough of is time left to write those stories God has placed on my heart to share with the world. Whether they are successful or not, popular or unpopular, I do not know.
I do know that there are stories to be told and that I am the teller of them.
This is dream interpretation. It is dreaming and finding the meaning underneath. I am convinced that the subsconscious has much to tell us if we learn to quiet and listen to what it says, via symbols and feelings, and learn to interpet our own inner landscape.