May 07, 2005

Dream: Dylan on the Plane

I’m sitting in a plane (which is also a theater) going north from Texas when I notice that Bob Dylan is sitting a few rows ahead. He sticks up above the crowd, although in real life he’s smallish, my size, and he’s sitting with an older woman (the Dylan in this dream is about 40) who’s his wife and whom he clings to dependently. We’re all amazed that he takes commercial economy class flights: the explanation in the dream is that he’s miserly.

I’m awed, as I am by him in real life, and I’m trying to figure out how to make contact with this famously forbidding presence without angering him: a quiet smile-nod of fellowship, I think. But some hippie guys around me, who double as interviewers, are talking loudly about him, to my chagrin, and he doesn’t like it.

But he loosens up when two matronly ladies come down the aisle singing a corny old song, unaware of him and only looking for their seats. He likes their song and asks them to sing the chorus for him repeatedly. Then there’s another woman on the other side of the plane/theater, an attractive young mother who joins him in harmony. Everyone’s feeling better around the new friendly Dylan. He offers the young mother a job as backup singer, but she turns him down, saying that she’s had artistic aspirations in the past but has realized it’s more important to be a good parent and a happy, loving person.

The dream shifts to another dream about intruding on a great songwriter, this time George Harrison…

INTERPRETATION: It’s about coming to terms with who I am as an artist and a person. Through most of my adult life I’ve seen myself as going through a long, gradual process of self-improvement, the rough edges in my personality weathering smooth – becoming a nicer person while trying to hold on to a valued core. Assuming I identify with all the people in my dream, it shows me going through this process successfully, the unfriendly Dylan becoming friendly. But there’s something else, and I say this explicitly in the dream’s dialogue: the young woman is wrong to renounce her artistic aspirations. Being a whole human being is a blessed state, but being an artist is the highest state and worth the rough edges, the isolation, the discontent. (In real life I think this is true of a Dylan but not necessarily of lesser artists. I think there’s a cost-benefit analysis to make.) The question the dream poses to me is where I’m to fit.

A further level: As part of my ongoing self-improvement, I need to go beyond the part of me that’s merely analytical, merely trying to figure out the best angle. The task this dream imposes on me is not just to understand it and not to take sides, but to make friends with all the characters, accepting all the parts of myself that are dramatized in it, the Dylan and the maternal renouncer, and for that matter the obnoxious hippie interviewers and the sweetly singing matrons – and even the confused, diffident first-person observer.

A weird phenomenon that often happens when I dream: waking up, I realize that the whole dream was a code for the title of a song or a line for a song. In this case, “All I really want to do is baby be friends with you.”

UPDATE: For a possibly uncanny synchronicity report having to do with this dream, see the post Ann put up an hour later.