A violist dreamed that she had switched instruments while playing in a string quartet. In her dream, she was playing violin, which is an instrument pitched higher than the viola. Here’s her dream.
I had people over to play quartets, and I was playing violin this time. But my strings wouldn’t stay in tune because the pegs kept slipping. So I couldn’t play, and I was not only embarrassed but really, really angry.
Stepping back from the dream to look at the symbols in a different way
Her initial comment to me while pondering her dream was, “Maybe this means I should only play the viola.” But I was hoping that she might be able to step back further from the literal events of the dream and look at it as a metaphoric description of some other aspect of her life.
With that in mind, we took the dream’s symbols and tried to redefine them as metaphors. There are many ways to do this. For example, readers may recall a recent dream I posted about falling off a boat into a river. That dreamer pretended that he was a novelist and tried to envision using each of the words as a metaphoric description for something in his novel.
This time, we chose a simpler approach. We pretended to describe each of the symbols in a way that a very small child could understand. So, for example, the first symbol we chose is “people.” We simply asked, “What are people?” and tried to answer the question for the benefit of a four- or five-year-old. Here are the results.
* People: My friends and family and everybody I know.
* Over: They came for a visit to talk and play with me.
* Play quartets: We were all together, making pretty music.
* Playing violin: The violin is small and has a high squeaky sound. I usually play viola with a deeper sound.
* This time: Today it was different for me. Normally I do something else.
* Strings: They’re what make the sound come out. They move and you can hear them.
* Wouldn’t stay in tune: They sounded bad and weren’t pretty anymore.
* Pegs: They are used to hold the strings and keep them sounding right.
* Kept slipping: They wouldn’t stay where they were supposed to be.
* I couldn’t play: The music I was trying to make wasn’t pretty; it didn’t sound good.
* Embarrassed: Kind of like sad and shy, and maybe I wanted to cry a little bit.
* Really really angry: It wasn’t fair and I got mad.
Remember that all dream symbols are facets of the dreamer’s own psyche. Each one represents some aspect of the dreamer herself. So when you read “my friends and family and everybody I know,” what is being described is a more inclusive part of the dreamer’s own personality, nothing about the dreamer’s extended family and social circle.
You can now see that, this dream’s theme is already reasonably clear; we’ll work on it on Friday.
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