Over 15 years ago I experienced a series of dreams about cows. These were not ordinary cows but were covered in polka dots, rainbow stripes, and geometric shapes. In my dreams the cows were alive. One cow in a group of particularly drab, by comparison, flesh-tinted cows submerged in a canal, even raised its head and spoke to me. Even though I immediately jotted down the dream when I awoke (a habit I was trying to cultivate at the time) I could not remember what it said. I’ve always thought if I could remember what it said I might have the answer to many of my philosophical questions.
About a year after my cow dreams subsided I was in a mall shop and saw figurines of horses painted in colorful designs. I have since learned that a parade in Chicago in 1999, a year before my dream, gave rise to the phenomena we now see all over the country. Figures of various animals and objects painted with abstract designs or scenes. I had planned to paint the cows from one of those dreams and never made the time. I wonder where my art career would be now had I done so.
So when I looked at this month’s “Whack on the Side of the Head” card I was particularly struck by its content. The card, part of a companion set to Roger von Oech’s book A Whack on the Side of the Head How You Can Be More Creative, is titled ‘Listen to Your Dreams’. It quotes Greek philosopher Heraclitus as saying,’ “To those who are awake, there is one ordered universe, whereas in sleep each man turns away from this world to one of his own.”‘ The card continues with, ” Your dreams can help resolve conflicts, refresh thinking, inspire solutions, and suggest new approaches. Example: chemist August Kekule’s dream of six circling snakes inspired his discovery of the benzene molecule ring. How can you relate a recent dream to a current problem?” In the section of the book related to this topic von Oech goes on to encourage us to ask questions about our dreams and then look for symbolic ways in which our mind may be speaking to us. He concludes the main section with this “Remember: your dreams are uniquely yours. Take advantage of them…..”
In the fall of 2012 I had a dream of a lady with brilliant red hair asleep in a bed of equally colorful fall leaves. I started that day sketching what I remembered of the dream and, after three studies, painted a new ‘Growing Girl’ that I titled ‘Appalachian Dreaming’. While all the growing girls have been creations of my subconscious she is the first to come out of a sleep state. So the next time you have an unusual, or just convoluted, dream take some time to inspect it; you may find a bridge to a new creative avenue.