As a psychologist, I often get asked to interpret dreams. My general response is that I have no idea what ‘your’ dream means. For the most part, dreams appear to have no meaning other than an expression of those events and experiences that we are going through at the moment of the dream. In other words, most of what is in our dreams is the same material that is in our waking life, such as the books we read, the TV shows we watch, and the thoughts that worry us.
Most dream material is not demonstrated in any symbolic way but is right there on the surface of the imagery. If there is “symbolic” meaning to your dream, it is generally a symbolism that only you can accurately interpret. It is based on your life and culture as you grew up. The same is true for me. Once in a great while, however, I have a dream that seems clearly to be saying something in symbolic form. Last night’s dream was an example, and it’s pretty easy to interpret, probably for everyone. Here it is:
An astronaut crashes on a desolate planet and walks away from the wreck. The planetary surface looks much like our moon, with no signs of any life. The man is wearing a space suit and is already thinking about what happens when the suit runs out of air. The man is not quite me, and does not look like me, but I feel clearly as if I’m inhabiting him.
Then, the astronaut sees a shadowy figure approaching from the distance. He heads off in that direction but stops as he gets a closer look at the figure. It’s a human and he’s not wearing a suit. He looks almost like the astronaut, but older. This older man approaches the astronaut and stops, but says nothing. His stare is blank.
The astronaut cautiously tests the air and finds it breathable. He strips off his suit, and as he turns back to the older man he is attacked suddenly by that fellow. The older man is slow and weak and the younger man easily throws him down and then backs away. The older man gets up and attacks again. The younger man punches him and knocks him down a second time.
The guy gets up off the ground and stands there. The younger man is ready to defend himself but no attack comes. The young man tries talking to the older man but there is no answer, only the stare. As the younger man relaxes a little bit, the older man attacks again. The astronaut easily knocks the man down again but now dares not relax when the fellow climbs back to his feet.
At this point, the dream began to jump forward in time. I’d see the young man starting to walk away and being attacked, moving to examine his suit and being attacked. Each individual attack was easy to defeat physically, but now the wear and tear of the psychological stress began to tell. The young man could not escape because the old man followed. He could not rest or an attack would come. He dared not sleep for fear that he would be helpless. And now he begins to tire.
In such a way is youth and strength defeated.