Last week, a dream came to me in which my partner Joe and I were going camping in the Inyo Mountains. I wanted to share with him one of my favorite places on Earth. When we arrived at the 4X4 road which leads into the back country, we were halted by an enormous condominium complex that had recently been developed. Basically in the dream, I go into a panic, frantically tracking down the developer and new residents to express my concern over this intrusion; especially its destruction of precious big horn sheep habitat. In the end, and after no success convincing anyone of anything, I find myself trying not to feel the despair, but I just can’t deny it. How can I go on feeling this way? Just knowing that this type of thing happens makes me not want to live in this world.
Of course, there are many ways to interpret this dream. I could take it literally, focusing on my sense of despair over the destruction of the natural world, but dreams are rarely so simplistic. The ego tends to grab onto quick interpretations as if they were lessons to be garnered as by attending a workshop or ingesting a book. But, given that dreams come from the unconscious, they tend to be more inscrutable, often trumping the ego with their arcane messages.
Although I am distraught by environmental devastation, I have to recognize that even these hideous dream condominiums are a part of nature. As Jung so often reminds us, “So far as we can see, the collective unconscious is identical with Nature”. My dreams, and all they contain, are Nature. Perhaps, my feelings of despair are not only about the environment, but by my own tendency to devalue the dream realm of psyche’s landscape. If there is any way to tend to nature, it is to turn to the dream. Like the big horn sheep, dreams are shy and reticent creatures that demand careful observation in order to be seen. When we pay attention to dreams, we also pay attention to Nature, and to that which is much greater and vaster than our rational selves.
The Paiute People may have had some appreciation of the mysterious connection between these inner and outer realms, between the day world and dream world, when they named this landscape “Inyo”, “The Dwelling Place of a Great Spirit”. Each time I enter into these mountains I feel as if I am walking into sacred space. The expansiveness and generosity of sensual delights unlocks my mind, shakes me up, and opens me up to “Spirit” –inspiration. And, here it all is, in my dreams.