I had a tornado dream recently. In it, I sat outside a farm house with a family that was not my own and waited for a storm to approach. I have had tornado dreams before, always warning me of coming turbulence in my life: the last ones warned me of an impending layoff, the first of the dissolution of my church family in a traumatic church split that ripped my family and new in-laws apart days after my wedding. So, suffice it to say that I pay attention to tornado dreams, and I have been chewing on this new one for several weeks. I believe its significance is deep and two-fold, and even extends beyond me to some of you.
The odd things about this dream were that:
1) this was not my family–a first for my tornado dreams that always warn of swift changes coming in my life (i.e. the winds of change)
2) I knew before the dream even began that the older man in the family was going to die, that there was nothing I could do about it, and that my job was to protect the young girl of the family
3) when the tornado came at us, it had four funnels instead of one, which I believe refers to 4 events coming in quick succession to disrupt my life
I woke up with a strong sense that the little girl represented my writing, specifically my novel.
Then I had a second dream, in which I found myself swimming in the Pacific Ocean while toxic waste and industrial trash washed past me in two warm waves. This was one week before the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear meltdown, but I don’t think this deals with anything so literal.
THE DREAMS’ INTERPRETATION
Funnel #1 & Wave #1) I discussed my dreams with a few friends, who both told me they felt the dreams were actually about boundaries. Setting boundaries with a negative person in my life who is jealous of my writing lifestyle so I could focus on my writing, specifically. But that didn’t feel like a complete interpretation.
Funnel #2) Then my mentor passed away, and the dream took on a second meaning: I believe the fact that there was nothing I could do to save the man’s life in my dream meant that I was also to set boundaries on worrying about what happened to Mr. Davis and again to focus on my writing.
Funnel #3) Then I suddenly found myself the new Transportation Editor for Inhabitat, a great job that again challenges me to set healthy boundaries to make sure my writing doesn’t get shelved in all the busyness.
Funnel #4 & Wave #2) I’m still waiting on event number four, which I expect to be represented by the fourth tornado spout and the second toxic wave and relate to setting boundaries with a negative person again, but something occurred to me regarding the second meaning of the dream….
THE DEEPER MEANING
David E. was a professional mentor to me, who gave me a foot in the door in the magazine/online media world and who gave me great advice about how to live a writing life. One sense I had about my dream was that the timing was no accident. I grieved the fact that he couldn’t see my success with Inhabitat because he passed away just a week before I got the job–the day I applied, in fact. In a sense, I believe he passed a baton–shall I say pen–to me to carry on his love of quality writing. He told me I was one of the best fact-checkers and copy editors he had ever known, and I felt that if there was a mantle there to pick up, I wanted to carry on David’s legacy of writing craft and storytelling. It would honor his memory. I don’t think I’m the only one of his employees or friends who could pick up this job and run with it, but I am one of many who have that choice.
I started to wonder if my recent post about the changing of the guard in media was actually occurring as I pondered the subject. I found this article about the best-paid mystery writers in America and discovered that several of them had already passed away. Ditto for sound and media pioneer Sidney Harman, who just passed. In fact, it seems that many giants of the last media age are retiring or passing away. So, beyond the idea of setting boundaries to protect my own writing during this time of swift change, I am also wondering how many mantles are out there to be picked up. Do you want to place your feet solidly in the center of the New York book publishing scene or become a pioneer of new media? I say go for it. I am. Whether you honor someone’s legacy or take back territory for quality writing and integrity in the business world, there are posts standing empty that need to be filled and will be. Which one will you claim as your own?