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Learning in Freedom

Welcome to Learning in Freedom, a blog all about the learning adventures (and mishaps) of the Allen family. My four children are unschooled, following their interests and passions every day and living the lives of their choosing. The purpose of this blog is to share our every day lives (and my not-so-humble opinons) with anyone interested in stopping by. We hope this will give a glimpse of how natural learning unfolds from day to day......

Sunday, January 03, 2010

So tell me your dreams: issue 6

Myself at around 6 years of age, with the baby Robin.

"Dreams are answers to questions we haven't yet figured out how
to ask."


"Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or Shakespeare."

—H.F. Hedge

"Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you."

—Marsha Norman

So Tell Me About
Your Dreams

So tell me about your dreams...

Such a simple statement. Yet so profound. "So tell me about your dreams," she said. It was meant literally, a question for a friend that must have been seeking some dream interpretation. Yet it was so intimate, so caring, so open.
tell me about your dreams

She sat at another table, speaking to a stranger, but it felt as though it was meant for me. As I sat sipping my coffee that day, I pondered the impact of her question. Why was the question so probing, and why did I feel that it would feel so comforting to have a person ask me that same question?

Dreams are significant and forgettable at once. They are clues to our subconscious, symbols of things that only we can decipher. To share a dream with another person is an intimate sharing, a thing that only a compassionate and caring person would want to shoulder or learn about. We don't walk around talking about our sleeping dreams, nor our waking dreams to just any soul encountered. To have a person ask about our dreams is an act of caring, an act of listening deeply. It feels personal and safe in the right person's presence.

tell me about your dreams

I think back to my childhood and how rarely I shared my dreams. I learned early on that my dreams were silly things, not worth mentioning. There wasn't anyone asking that magical question, not really. The sleeping dreams were pointing towards great clues about me, yet even those weren't completely safe to share.

I remember the dream about cycling across America and how passionate I felt about it for weeks after waking from that particular dream. The dream got downsized to a bike ride from Fairbanks to Anchorage, then from my home out to Chena Hot Springs about 100 miles away. Eventually, it got buried under the fear of hearing how impractical my dreams were. But it was still there, bubbling under the surface.

What if someone had been able to share my dream? What if someone, just ONE someone had said, "tell me about your dreams"? What if that person, rather than scoffing at the impracticality of either a waking or sleeping dream had said, "how can we plan for this?" and showed me a path to making dreams a reality? What if......

I wonder often just where I'd be today had one adult in my life asked me that question and cared deeply about the answer. I wonder. It really doesn't matter at this point, the past is past, and I forge my own path today, with or without those chains. But it's worth thinking about how our questions, words, and attitudes affect our own children and the dreams they carry within themselves because they carry dreams today. They carry seeds of dreams for tomorrow. They carry greatness within them wherever they go—do we nourish it or before it can grow into its fullness, do we decapitate it with the cruel swipe of our uncaring words?

tell me about your dreams

When a person shares the gift of their dreams with us, we need to recognize just how personal and how precious that gift is. A dream can be a fragile thing in the early stages. A fragile, gossamer gift that can be shattered like spun sugar at too rough a touch. We can shatter it or fortify this small thing that sits before us. "Tell me about your dreams" can fortify the most fragile idea, the smallest whimper of a desire. This simple question lends strength because we are listening. It lends vision because we care.

When our children come to us with these desires, ideas, and schemes our words have impact. We must choose them carefully. Do we have enough vision to listen deeply? Do we have enough creativity to see it through? Do we share with them the knowledge of how to birth a dream into reality? Is it enough?

I am sharing my dreams with that inner child that wasn't heard. I care deeply about her ideas and visions that weren't taken seriously enough. I take these desires seriously and do what I can to bring them about. This healing journey of listening to my dreams (those urges and desires never go away.....we respond and live in joy, or ignore them and live in torment) has caused me to slow down and really listen to my children on a different level.

There are times that an idea is worked through on many levels just by being heard. Knowing that someone wants to hear us can be a gateway to more creativity, to bigger ideas, and the ability to work through a challenging idea. Building a support network for your own dreams begins with "tell me about your dreams." Helping our children stay in touch with those inner desires and the ability to trust themselves very often begins with "tell me about your dreams" or some version of it.

tell me about your dreams

The woman that spoke those words at the coffee shop last week will probably never know how her words affected me. She doesn't need to know that her ability to care and listen gave me words that are now like a mantra in my mind. Taking our dreams seriously is what we all need to do on this earth before we leave.

My children are a big part of my dreams. My ability to nourish and fortify their dreams is another important piece of that puzzle. There are other nudges and urgings under the surface...they call to me here and there. I listen to them now; I trust they are important parts of who-I-am and where my journey will take me. I cradle and nourish and plan with those pieces....for they are part of a calling, part of urges we can not explain. Some of them feel as though they were embedded deeply into the coding of our very cells at the beginning of time. Where they come from and how they become a part of us we may never know. Trusting that they are the clues to a life well-lived helps us take them seriously.

There is an old picture of me, around six years of age. In the picture I am cradling a baby bird in the palm of my hands, a Robin that had fallen from its nest. I remember how tiny and vulnerable that small life was, how strong the urge was to protect that life. I remember my mother commanding us to take the bird back into the forest because it was impractical to try and save it. I remember how crushing the weight of that burden was and recognize how it has affected me to this day. When I see that picture of my small self, trying so hard to protect that fragile thing, I see a child with dreams in her hands. A small creature trying to protect an even smaller creature amidst the cruelty of a world that wouldn't slow down to listen. This image reminds me to act as a protector of dreams, a bulwark against a world that would scoff at the desires of a small heart. Those small, fragile dreams can grow strong with time. They can become a life's journey.

What are the dreams that have laid quietly far too long in our hearts?

What are the urges and desires that seem impractical?

What steps are we taking today, to ensure the safety of those desires?

What are we doing to build upon those ideas and nourish them in our own children?

I imagine a world where children are taken seriously, where dreams are taken seriously. I imagine a world where everyone's dreams are seen as clues to a joyful life. I imagine that we can all listen more deeply and care more fully about our own dreams. I believe that we carry greatness within us and that our dreams are the clues to unlocking that greatness.

So.... tell me about YOUR dreams.