First Dream, First Memory

Carl Jung remembered his first dream at age 4. I don’t have memories of conscious events at that age, let alone unconscious ones. To my awe and respect, some of my peers do. Dreams can give clues about directions to follow. They are the only other place, outside of play, were anything can happen. Jung’s childhood dream was a roadmap for his life, but only because he kept working with it relentlessly for years.

When asked to remember my earliest dream, I froze. Nothing came. When asked to remember my earliest memory and write about it as if it were a dream, still nothing. When instructed to allow inclusion of stories told to me so many times that I could no longer distinguish if they were memories of mine or my parents, something came.

When I was not yet three, my mother asked my brother and me if we wanted to go meet Dad at the train station. We said yes. She went to get our coats and I went out the front door. I walked down one residential street after another until I reached the main street and the corner where the train station sat.

In my dream version of this event, I navigated to the crosswalk and started to cross to the other side where I knew Dad would be. The light for oncoming traffic was green and cars should have been approaching me, but everything around me stopped. For a moment time stood still. There was only me and my Dad. I could see him getting off the train, although it was not in my line of vision. I could see him walking toward me as I walked towards him. I had parted the sea to reach something else.

Then he saw me. “What irresponsible parent has allowed that small child to cross this busy street alone? OMG, its me.” Just then a blue station wagon came flying around the corner and parked on the side of the road, next to where my Dad was grabbing me and lifting me up into his arms. My mom rested her head down on the steering wheel and sighed. I knew their fear physically, visually, instinctually. It surprised me.

I lost a bit of my spirit for spontaneity and adventure that evening. I remained the shining apple, while the others remained separate, isolated, independent. I noticed that the world was watching, that it might not be a safe place, and that there was something very important that I needed to be. I learned to be careful.

Within the cradle of a red rhododendron flower lies a small white bud, gently opening, while two others remain tightly closed. Which one have I been? Which one will I be now?

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