Sunday, July 30, 2017

Anatomy of a Dream

It is remiss and folly of not showing true feelings to those we love, living or dead, all because “I am always busy”, and because there will be someday to make up for it. There are always reasons or alibis for failing to offer them prayers, to visit their graves, or just to make those who too, are close to them happy. Oh, there are many, many ways. 
Dr Abe V Rotor

This is a true story.

I went to bed very tired. For the whole day before my birthday I put on extra effort to finalize the manuscript of my forthcoming book which I was going to submit the following Monday. The title is Light from the Old Arch, a compilation of essays I wrote through the years.
Dad and my sister Veny
It was just past 10 in the evening and Cecille, my wife, who had gone to bed ahead of me stirred. “I’ll just check what we will have for breakfast. I’ll be back,” she said as I stretched my aching back and tired brain and apparently fell asleep.

Soon I found myself in complete darkness. I could not trace my way to switch on the lights and after several attempts locating it on the wall and under curtain, an inexplicable fear crept, a fear I had never experienced before. I was in a strange domain yet it had the features of my home. There was total darkness, total silence.

Dad died in 1981 at the age of 78. He died here in our residence at Lagro after battling with the complications of diabetes. We buried him at Himlayang Pilipino. Our oldest son, Pao who died at three, soon joined him in the same grave two years after.

Dad was deeply affected by my Mama’s death during the Second World War. My sister Veny was four then, and my brother Eugene was three. Dad suffered much - emotionally and physically - even after the four years of Japanese occupation. The war left our family and the country in ruins.

We continued to live in San Vicente which is adjacent to Vigan, the capital of Ilocos Sur. Dad confessed when we were already big that he feared so much we would not make it through in life. I know how extremely difficult it was even if dad owned farmlands and a neo-colonial house which my grandparents built in 1900. The three of us children knew little of the joys of childhood. My only uncle, Uncle Leo left dad to raised his own family in Pangasinan. He seldom visited us and spent time in our big house where he, like my dad, and their four siblings were born. Uncle Leo was the eldest and dad was the youngest. The rest of their siblings died at a very early age of smallpox which killed many people in Ilocos.

Basang my auntie and yaya took care of me from the time my mother died. I was less than two years old then. She never left us even when I came to Manila for my studies. She died three years after dad had gone. Manang Veny called me to come home when Basang died. We buried her in the town cemetery close to our departed relatives. Just before she died she gave me an antique narra aparador which I now use in keeping my personal things. In our dialect, she said, “This is the only thing I can give you.”

“You have given me everything,” I said.

Going back to the incident of October 21, I called dad three times, then called Basang once. It was a call apparently in fear. I felt helpless and lost. I froze. I could not move. I could not shout. And when I knew no help would come, I struggled. I succeeded in moving my fingers, my toes, until I was free.

Cecille had returned to our bedroom. “Why, you are pale and perspiring? What happened?" she asked, perplexed. She fetched me a glass of water.

“Was I shouting?” I asked automatically. “No,” she said calmly.

“I was dreaming,” I said and told her the whole story.
Anatomy of a Dream

Dreams are visions of the unconscious part of our brain. That is why they occur in our sleep, when we are not aware of things the way we perceive them with our senses. Dreams are not fashioned by rational thoughts and actions, and therefore we have no power to decide and to act according to that decision. We are entirely under the control of our unconscious mind.

“Even when we are deeply asleep the psyche is still actively producing dreams,” says Carl Jung. “We may not always be aware of these activities, any more than we are aware of our physiological activities, but this does not mean they are not taking place.”

According to Jung we remember only a few of our dreams, yet recent evidences suggest that we dream continuously throughout the night. There in our unconscious mind our psyche is very much alive, performing psychological work such as perceiving, remembering, thinking, feeling, wishing, willing, attending and striving – just as breathing, digesting and perspiring are physiological activities.

But can we choose psychic values? According to Jung, when a high value is placed upon an idea or feeling it means that this idea or feeling exerts considerable force in influencing and directing one’s behavior. A person may place a high value on beauty. Another on power. Or knowledge. On the other hand, there are those who place a high value on wealth, even on sex and vices. These create the themes of our dreams.

This is the realm of our unconscious mind. This is where Carl Jung parted way from his friend Sigmund Freud’s as he blazed the trail of the psychology of the unconscious, which led to applied psychology - psychiatry. We are governed not only by our conscious mind. We are actually governed in a much deeper and wider sense than we ever think. As we feed the unconscious with conscious thoughts and experiences, so the unconscious feeds the conscious mind. And this cycle goes on throughout everyone’s life, starting in the womb.

Even when we were children, the mind did not lose the information it received. They were deposited. First in the conscious, then deposited in the unconscious part of our brain, which are saved like in the computer. Now, the information is ready at hand to be retrieved. Touch the key and the info comes out on the screen – the screen of our consciousness.

How will this affect our present mind now that we are older? Jung said that the previous information serves as archetype. To better understand how this archetype works in relation to what we think at present, here is an example.

Suppose here is a person who happened to be a witness of a murder with his own eyes when he was still a small child. When he sees a suspicious person, the image of the murderer he saw many years ago flashes. It is the archetype coming alive.

Or take another example. A kindly gentleman comes and asks for a favor. We size him up in relation to people who have the characteristics this man possesses. If our experiences are agreeable, it is likely that we going to entertain this person.

The images of people, places and events are fashioned in many ways by archetypes. Unlike the computer, the mind spontaneously brings out the archetype that the brain appropriately needs at that moment. This is the basis of many of our decisions – and prejudices.

Through dreams the loaded unconscious finds relief. Information flows out in the form of dreams. Dreams may be happy or sad, fearful or pleasant. Or at intervals of moods and settings and characters, as if information keeps on flowing out. Nature has given us a safety valve to maintain our rationality and to release us from the prison walls of memory. Thus the other safety valve is forgetfulness.

Psychiatry is based on this principle. Lying on a couch the patient unloads his burden, fears, and uncertainties. He releases the pressure. Through this process he reaches a state of catharsis. He is relieved. He can now sleep. He can now work again.

People who cannot attain catharsis may suffer of psychiatric problems and may resort to drugs. Do you often wonder why people resort to drugs? Why there are more and more people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol?

Why, many people try to “escape” reality?

October 21 is a memorable day for me. By reading this story one is led to think that something supernatural controlled the event and situation. I told Cecille, “Dad and Basang came.”

“Let’s pray for them,” she answered and made the sign of the cross.

I know they did not come; I went to them. It was a special day, my special day.

I realized my fault which lays not so much in not remembering them often, but I have ceased to see them as the models that shaped my life. That was too long ago. I no longer see the lessons I learned from them that are still relevant to my present life. I do not call them anymore in the midst of my problems. I have grown up. I do not seek their intercession and guidance anymore.

It is remiss and folly of not showing true feelings to those we love, living or dead, all because “I am always busy”, and because there will be someday to make up for it. There are always reasons or alibis for failing to offer them prayers, to visit their graves, or just to make those who too, are close to them happy. Oh, there are many, many ways. 

Time has changed, and change has polarized our worlds. So with values of old and of the present world. The generation gap syndrome is creeping fast, more so with my own children who too, will have a world of their own in the near future.

There in the dark I called Dad and Basang, their names clear and loud, but my voice just faded without answer, not even its own echo. It was eerie and mysterious. The unconscious was swelling and it found an exit in the dark, psychic energy released in dream. And there as I called them, I realized I was the one who is lost – and found myself again.

This is a true story. x x x 

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