Dream Guy

Steve Hetzel

Dear Dream Guy,

I dreamt that Kohler Hall was on fire. (I don’t recall exactly how it got started, except something about a chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong.) People were jumping out of the windows-which in reality are unable to be fully opened-in hysteria. Firefighters were holding trampolines for people to land on, though not everyone was lucky enough to make it. My roommate and I lived in a second Kohler dorm-that doesn’t exist in reality-which was not on fire. We packed our suitcases full of clothes (why we needed clothes I have no clue), and left before our dorm also started on fire. As each building caught on fire from the one beside it, we ran from building to building-from the library to Plantz, eventually ending up in Colman. Watching from Colman, we saw a big burst of flames as half of Main Hall collapsed. We were terrified and devastated. With the flames spreading further, we (by now there was a crowd of my surviving friends) picked up our suitcases and ran to a store near Conkey’s where a lady there kept us company and let us spend the night.

In the morning we went to see what was left of campus. Lawrence was demolished, with nothing left but ashes and the frames of buildings-except for the second Kohler Hall, which was left untouched. As we were staring at the ruins, the sun started to rise, and as the sunbeams touched the ground, the whole campus was transformed from ashes into beautiful meadows of green hills. Dwarves of all different ages and sizes began to appear. The closest one to me was about half my size with a cute round nose and a mushroom hat like something from a cartoon or Mario Brothers. Wondering, I asked him who he was. “I’m from heaven. I’m an angel,” he replied. Then I woke up.

-A Wondering Dreamer

Dear Wondering,

Your story begins with events which bear a striking resemblance to those of September 11th. While dreams such as these often show that we have not sufficiently dealt with a particularly troubling event, the beauty is that they are also evidence of our minds actively working through the original stress, so that the event will sit with us somewhat more comfortably in the long run.

While it is similar to events that occurred last fall, your dream also contains factors which decrease the stress of the original events. First, the fire was completely an accident, eliminating the fear that something else unconnected to the fires will happen, or that someone behind the trouble might seek to cause more.

Second, the place where you live is somehow guarded from harm, despite the fire’s wild spreading to the other buildings. Furthermore, the destruction is limited to the campus, leaving any surrounding structures untouched. Although you seek refuge just down the street, you know and are correct in believing that the fire cannot affect you there.

Third, there is the morning after. The sun does rise again, and transforms the rubble into a beautiful field. Little people start coming out, coming out, wherever they are. This feature seems to be a nocturnal allusion to none other than “The Wizard of Oz,” with you in the role of Glinda, The Good Witch. The man near you who reveals himself to be an angel also contributes positively to the scene, though with a different connotation.

With all this insulation from tragic circumstances, the fact that the fires occur literally in your backyard is much less stressful than it could have been. Thus, you are able to safely (and subconsciously) project tragic events onto your personal life, thereby potentially tapping more deeply into the larger than normal sense of sympathy and siblinghood that spawned from those original events.

Any interpretation after this point usually belongs to the dreamer him/herself, the “creator” of the piece. Further outside speculation on meanings or symbolism, after a certain level of awareness has been reached, becomes more and more subjective.

That said, the dreamer also told me that, “The end of my dream reminds me of Revelation: ashes turning into meadows like heaven on Earth; and as we are forgiven, we rise anew from ashes-i.e. Lent just started. That’s what I get from the dream.”

While this dream is unlike those seen in previous week’s columns, interpretation still can apply, and can be just as beneficial, if not more. In fact, making sense of the dreams that particularly bother us may help us even more than figuring out the significance of dreaming about a hatching kitten, or a fuzzy elephant, or even a clothes-eating slime-like substance.

Don’t get me wrong; I am all about poking fun at, and appreciating the silly things that occur in our Dreamworlds. But I also feel that the very dreams that we would like to forget are also often the ones which hold the power to help us grow in the long run. The scary elements in our dreams, while they are uncomfortable, are ultimately helping us work through our fears.

I hope to continue this column next term, but I need your help. Send any dream submissions-no matter the content or character-to me at hetzels@lawrence.edu, the sooner the better.

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