It was Freud, Jung’s mentor, who called dreams ‘The royal road to the unconscious.”
Jung himself believed that dreams were how we came to discover the unconscious myths guiding our lives.
I recently had such a dream, so clear, so well constructed, that it was a revelation.
Perhaps it came because, having quit Cannabis, my REM sleep is once again in its full depth. I do not know, but I am grateful. It was, perhaps, one of the more important dreams of my life.
I shall regale you with it now.
The dream began in a large hall (For dining), filled with people seated around a dozen or so round tables. I was a waiter (A job I did in my twenties).
I approached the first table and knew each person was going to tell me two things:
1. A song they wanted to hear, which I was to put on for them
2. A beverage of their choosing.
The first person told me his song and drink, and soon the others at the table did. I struggled to get the artist and song titles, and I hastily wrote the drink orders down.
I then told them I would be back shortly and walked across the hall to where the drinks and the music controls were.
As I made my way across the hall, people were looking at me the way hungry, impatient people look at their waiter. I assured the most direct and obvious glances that I would be there to take their order in the way waiters do:
“I’ll be right with you.”
As I made it to the music controls, where I was to play the first patron’s song request, I realized I had only written down the artist. It was the Beatles or Pink Floyd. I then became acutely aware of the eyes on me, and one person yelled to me to, ‘Play something great!’
Optimistically, I choose a random Beatles or Pink Floyd song, to realize I had selected one with a long, intense, non-musical intro (Those who listen to Pink Floyd can imagine)…
Something like, this.
This created an awkward situation, but I had drink orders to fill so I went to the large plastic bucket filled with ice and pop. Unlike the song titles, which I had fumbled, I had the written the proper drink orders down. Only, to my chagrin, we did not have the drinks they wanted.
I knew I would have to do what every waiter and service provider loathes to do, which is to inform your patron that you do not have what they want. It was, imaginably, very stressful. And I had a whole room full of people waiting for me to take their order, to play their song.
To say I was overwhelmed would be understating it: I wanted to pull my hair out. Things were falling apart. The room was a mess of unfulfilled wants. And I was a failure.
Now, suddenly, I looked up and the tables were gone – except one.
The dream had split into a second half.
There was only one table in the room now.
I felt calm. And instead of walking over to them to take their drink orders, I approached the drink bucket and took inventory of what I had.
And being so close to my one table of calm patrons, I simply yelled out the available drinks. As in, “I’ve got Sprite, grape soda, Diet Coke.”
I did not bother asking them what song they wanted to hear.
And hearing my inventory, what was available, what was offered, they yelled back which they would like. And I simply reached into the ice-filled bucket and grabbed their selections, and then I gently lobbed each drink to its recipient in an underhanded toss, which was caught with ease.
And the dream ended. I awoke. With as clear a grasp on the two halves of the dream as I have just told you.
Only, what it all meant wasn’t immediately clear – but I knew there was significance in what I had dreamt. Something deep.
So I began to analyze the two halves, for I knew there was meaning in the contrast between the first half, where I was so overwhelmed, and the second half, where I was at ease, aware of my own cleverness even.
It wasn’t long, turning the two halves over in my mind, until it clicked.
The dream was a metaphor for my work – the only place in my life I find myself overwhelmed, overworked, and in deeper shit than I can handle.
But it was clear. There were two ways to go about it.
I could cater to the myriad wants of the masses, promising them whatever they wished.
Or I could offer them what I had, keeping it simple and easy.
It is the difference between being a programmer (miserable), and building products, selling value, which can be quite easy (Once you write the book or produce the value).
The first half of the dream represented the soon to be old-way of doing things, which has never served me, has only worn me thin.
The second half of the dream represented the way I ought to be doing things. The soon to be new way of running my life and my business.
“This is what I have”. I produce things of value that people desire. And I sell the value – not the desire.
It was a map. A solution to my deepest problems, laid out in metaphor so brilliant that no other form of self-instruction could be so eye opening, so revealing.