seeing the real enemy

Another mass shooting has us again asking “why?”…

But we’re not just trying to understand the actions of one person; we’re trying to understand ourselves.  Understand not just his violence, but the violence we do to each other.

Here’s how I answer the question of motive for myself:

As I see it, the recent tragedy in Las Vegas is the result of shadow projection.  An extreme example, yes.  But this world is filled with extreme examples.

If I reject the negative aspects of my shadow—if I refuse to see them—I’m likely to project them onto others–

—onto that person or that group or that nation.  Even onto a crowd enjoying a concert on a Sunday night.  The problem isn’t in me—it’s in them.  They’re the enemy.*

The natural response then is to try to destroy them.

But usually we don’t shoot.  At least, not in the literal sense.  Instead of one major attack, we stage many many minor attacks.  We spread the hurt around.  Often, without even realizing we’re trying to wound.  Speaking for myself, I may not realize my misdemeanors until years later.

Since such attacks don’t solve the problem—don’t kill the enemy within—why do I continue?  The projections of others are often so obvious to me.  So why can’t I see my own?

Well, to see the projection is to see the inner aspect I’m projecting.  To accept that negative aspect is hard on the ego.  It’s easier to walk around like a zombie.  Or else, lie to myself.

Fortunately, my dreams will show me what that lying zombie doesn’t wish to see…

My dreams continually show me the negative aspects of my shadow.  What I’ve blindly rejected—and have probably projected.  My dreams show me the enemy within.

That hostile force creeping up on me in a dream?—that’s the enemy who is me.  That’s the enemy I must confront, must know, in order to change.

Yes, these truths can be hard pills to swallow…

…but I ease that pain by reminding myself:

Every negative aspect has a positive side.  By becoming aware of an aspect, I can then flip it to the positive.

So, after accepting a negative aspect do I then stop projecting it?  Well, yes and no.  Awareness gained must be maintained.

This is the good fight.

(* We also project our positive shadow—and that can be harmful as well.)

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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a dream of Titanic proportions

My dreams tell me where I’m headed…

…just as your dreams tell you where you’re headed.

But does a dream ever go beyond the personal?  Do our dreams ever tell us where the world is headed?

In a dream from few years ago…

I see a scene that brings to mind the tragedy of the Titanic.

A number of people bob helplessly in the cold waters of a night ocean.  Though they float together in loosely-formed group, they’re disconnected from one another.

Their ship has sunk.  Many have died.

An alarming dream.  I believe every character in a dream represents an aspect of myself.  So the dream seemed to be saying:

You’re adrift and in shock, after being blindsided by a submerged shadow aspect.

I didn’t think my situation was so dire.  But dreams tend to picture our problems in overly dramatic ways.  So perhaps that interpretation was accurate.

But I couldn’t go along with the rest of the message.  I wasn’t so disconnected from myself…

For several years, I’d been working to meld the many pieces of myself—the various aspects—together to create a better whole.  I’d come to know many of these aspects through my dream work.

I’d learned that no aspect is ever completely lost.  I might push it down, keep it hidden, but the aspect—the energy—still lived within me.

So the deaths in the dream couldn’t represent my personal reality.

As my interpretation fell apart, I wandered toward this idea…

Maybe the dream didn’t relate to my little personal picture.  Maybe it related to our big picture.  The world picture.

Are we, like the Titanic, on collision course with nature?  Headed toward disaster, because we’re too relaxed about the course we’re taking?  Too arrogant?

I thought of this dream again recently, while watching a news story.  A massive iceberg had broken off from an ice shelf on the Antarctic peninsula.  A chunk the size of Delaware.

Though I like to think it’s possible to dream big, occasionally…

…I hope this dream relates to me and myself and no one else.  Me and myself, I can fix.  Climate change—well, I’ll do what I can, but I’m not one of the ones steering the ship.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry blog

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visiting the mystery

According to a recent dream, I want to be in two places at once.

In the dream…

I drive with some male friends to an isolated country field at night.

We park and walk down a trail to a copse of trees.

In just a short time, my friends return to the cars.  But I’m not ready to go.  As I linger, I stare down into a concrete tank filled with water.

A stranger arrives.  We talk.  He seems smart, sincere, secure in himself.  I’d like to continue the conversation, but fear my companions might leave without me.

When interpreting a dream, I let this idea guide me: everything in the dream represents an aspect of myself.

So, those dream friends are me.  I see them as the “social me”.  The part that enjoys the world of noise—the excitement, the sizzle, the stimulation.  If I linger in this mysterious place, I fear I may lose that aspect of myself.

But there’s more behind my desire to leave…

I’m scared of the mystery.

The mystery is dark…strange…uncertain…isolating.

So then why do I also want to stay?  Because I sense I can find the sacred here.

The stranger represents another aspect of my self—though that’s hard for me to believe.  Hard to believe, because he seems comfortable here.  Secure.

If I stay awhile longer, I can connect with this aspect.  This relaxed, self-assured aspect.  So…to become more comfortable with the mystery, I must stay with the mystery.  That makes sense.

Don’t get me wrong—the world of noise is not bad world.  I will return to that world.  I must live in that world.

But in order to be a better man in that world, I need to visit the mystery occasionally.

Whenever I go into the mystery—whenever I try to reach my deeper self, whenever I try to realize the reality behind our chaos—I always feel more centered, more peaceful afterwards, when I return to the world of noise.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
myth steps blog

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musing on my muse

I like to say, “I don’t rely on any muse, but on my own hard work.”

However, a recent dream tells me that I do listen to a muse.

In the dream…

I’m on one side of an empty room.

On the other side, several women stand in a group.

A woman supervisor comes over to present me with a new project.  It’s a poem or like a poem.

I have to put my current project on hold and start this new one.  The current project is also a poem or like a poem—but bigger than the new work.

Though I don’t know the reasons behind this change, I don’t argue.

The dream seemed to relate to a creative project I’d been planning.  Something big—I like to think big.  Something grand.

However, even before the dream, I sensed: now is not the right time for this project.  My inner muse—my intuitive feeling sense—was trying to get through to me.  But I didn’t want to listen—I wanted to daydream.

Ancient Greek mythology speaks of nine muses.  Each one represents a form of human expression or knowledge: drama, music, dance, history, astronomy, and the different themes of poetry.

I probably have nine or so women in my dream.  If I can connect with these muses—these inner aspects—I can indeed create something grand…no matter the size of the project.

So then, what is this shorter project?

I still don’t know.  But I’m listening.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
sky rope: a poetry blog

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let sleeping paperclips lie

Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping paperclips lie…

…according to a recent dream.

In the dream…

On the concrete pavement near my feet, I spot two paperclips.

I try to pick one of them up.  But it keeps moving away from my hand—as if pushed by a puff of air.

Finally, I catch it.  But when I check my palm, I find a curled scorpion.  I quickly toss the creature to the ground.

After pondering that dream scenario…

…I still don’t know what or who the paperclips are supposed to represent.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned much from this dream…

I persist not because I want the clip, but merely because it’s elusive.

I’m not an aggressive man.  However, when I commit to a task, I usually keep at it.  An admirable quality…until persistence becomes stubbornness…

Blinded by my stubborn mindset, I don’t realize the obvious: the paperclip flees out of fear.

It only becomes a scorpion as a last resort—it’s merely trying to protect itself.

Ironically, because I was afraid of being hurt by the scorpion/clip, I may have hurt it.

At the end of the dream, I reach for the second clip.  It doesn’t try to “run away” and remains a clip when in my palm…

However, I do spot a tiny creature crawling around its loops.  I can’t see it clearly, but think it might be a scorpion.  Deciding not to take a chance, I toss this paperclip down as well.

Another mistake, as I see it now: even if that bitty bug was a scorpion, it would be too small to do any serious damage.

Besides, I can’t avoid all the little scorpions in this life.  After all, isn’t there a bit of scorpion in everyone (myself included)?

This dream doesn’t seem to mirror any situation in my present life…

But maybe there’s a match with events in my past.  In any case, I need to remain aware of these truths in the future.  Maybe we can’t avoid being hurt and sometimes hurting other…but we can limit the damage.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
sky rope: a poetry blog

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getting the message

A recent dream shows I’m making progress on a problem…

In the dream…

I’m ascending, floor by floor, through a large modern shopping mall…

At each floor, I walk through a hallway behind the stores until I’ve made a complete circle.

About halfway up, I call my mother.  She says she will meet me at the mall.

So, I must stop and wait.  I stand inside a fast-food cafe.  A number of older couples do a slow dance.  A man in a cowboy outfit comes up and shakes my hand—he knows my mother.

When I woke from this dream, the problem seemed clear enough:

I was making good progress…

…until I decided to call my mother.

While alive, my mother was a worry-wart.  So perhaps I was letting fear impede my growth.

That interpretation seemed to fit…

…until I remembered a similar dream from a few years ago…

In that dream, I’m walking through a long, curving hallway.  The blank white walls seem quite bland.  At one point, I open a door and find a mall filled with bright shops and much activity.  But I close the door and travel on.

When I looked into that dream, I realized I should’ve stopped and gone inside the mall—

—as I actually did do in this latest dream.  It’s ironic: by stopping, I’m making progress—I’m changing a behavior that limits my enjoyment of life.

Yes, my mother was a worry-wart.  But that’s not all she was.  She also liked to window shop—and take her time while doing so.  According to this dream, I’m activating that part of myself: the part that wants to see and feel and hear and taste the world…

Nothing wrong in trying to reach the top of the mall.  I need not abandon that goal.

But if that’s my sole focus, I’ll lose so much.

I know I’m not done with this issue.  By watching my dreams, I’ll be able to see how I’m progressing.

© 2017, Michael R. Patton
sky rope: a poetry blog

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