This week I’m analyzing the difference between images that we have in our dreams and those observations we make during our waking lives. On Wednesday I pointed out that some of our experiences seem logical and orderly, whereas others are totally strange and unpredictable. This happens whether we are asleep and dreaming or are awake and living “real” life. I gave several examples of freaky, unforeseeable occurrences during waking hours.
I then made the following suggestion: Both kinds of experiences—predictable and orderly, and startlingly illogical and unexpected—make up the vocabulary of a language that is being constantly “spoken” to us.
That language is the language of metaphor, and it is the universal language. Despite the the perceptions of many, metaphor is not a tool used exclusively by authors and poets to make their imagery easier to understand. On the contrary. The structure of our whole system of communication is built around metaphor.
In my book Always Dreaming I include an appendix at the end which randomly lists metaphoric phrases that are commonly used in our speech. The appendix is eight pages long! I compiled these examples simply by thinking of common expressions used every day. I have never counted how many I included, but I am reasonably sure that the number is close to 1,000. And—to use a common metaphor—I doubt if I more than scratched the surface. What follows are a few examples:
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You need to spell out your ideas. There’s dirty work afoot. That’s a two-way street. The book was a potboiler. Don’t mince words. I’m going to go surf the internet.
Those who analyze dreams are accustomed to working with metaphors. They understand that dreams are not to be taken literally, that they are communications, some would say, from our subconscious minds. They use this metaphoric language as their primary mode of conveying thoughts, feelings and information.
Perhaps where I stand apart from many who work with dreams is that I can demonstrate convincingly that this metaphoric communication goes on, not only in our dreams, but during our waking lives as well. In fact, it has been my observation that the dreaming process never stops. The metaphors are being presented to us uninterrupted—both during sleep and during our waking hours. They represent a barrage of messages coming from…where? That will be the topic of my final post on this subject, tomorrow.
In the meantime, try to understand that the primary purpose of the images we perceive—both while sleeping and while being awake—is to communicate with us. This communication takes place in the language of metaphor. It is unimportant whether the imagery makes logical sense or is absurdist. Its logic is of secondary importance. In fact, these communications are much more likely to be observed and paid attention to if they startle us with their craziness. The trick is to understand them for what they are: communiques from somewhere to be discussed tomorrow.
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