The Murder of Creativity–How Dreams Uncovered the Crime

“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse

Henri Mattisse “The Dream”

Last night I over-dreamt. I feel as if I attended an all-night movie where none of the “shorts” were related.


“The creative adult is the child who survived.” Ursula Leguin

My last dream memory is of lying on my left side, nestled under the covers, my face buried in my pillow. A girl’s voice calls to me, “Auntie, Auntie.” (Auntie had a last name but it is lost to me now.)
I raise my head. A child of five or maybe eight years, sits on the floor facing me, her back against the wall.
“Bethany?” I ask. “What are you doing here?” Vague now. It seems I am supposed to be babysitting Bethany and one or two other children.

I wake up. Other dream pieces materialize.

I am still lying in bed. A distraught man comes to me. Says that his prostrate is burning. I tell him, “Get the bag of frozen peas, the one with the large blue X on the front, and put it over your genitals.” He refuses. I say, “Your only choice then is to go to the hospital emergency.”

In the last remembered fragment, I am in a large, unfamiliar house. Horizontal wooden planks, weathered to a brown-grey, line walls, floors, and ceilings. I wander from room to empty room looking for an exit. I come into a small vestibule with a door leading outside. An older man enters—a brimmed hat shrouds his face. I know he’s a police detective. I say, “I am known to have prescient dreams,” and tell him the name of the murderer was revealed to me in a dream; however, it is up to him to find the proof.

**********************

It is now a few hours later. I have eaten breakfast, been for a long, cold walk with my dog and fielded a phone call. But, the dream images peek out from behind other thoughts, play on my mind, keep me from being fully present. I realize that the day will go badly if I don’t “do something with them.”

Keeping in mind that 99% of dream images are aspects of the dreamer, here I go.

Dream #1
Associations

For every image in a dream, the unconscious can provide associations that explain that image’s meaning. Every word, idea, mental picture, feeling or memory that spontaneously arises in relation to an image is written down.


Bethany
Bethlehem Christmas Jesus Baby Beth Epiphany A saviour A new beginning

Young girl 5 or 8
What was I like at that age? What did I value? What did I believe?
Move to new house. Tomboy. Grade 2. My own bedroom. Windows too high. Couldn’t see out unless I stood on the bed. Snakes in window wells. Summer. Tree-climbing. Adventurer.

Back against a wall
No where to turn, a desperate situation

Auntie
Auntie Mame—looked after young boy. My aunties—hardly knew them. Who am I an aunt to? Nieces and nephews live far away. Auntie Blanche—Marilyn’s fake aunt—jealous. Someone who is supposed to take care of children? Not a mother. A loving care-giver. I am sleeping—neglecting my duty.

Title: The neglectful care-giver.
Theme: Failure to take care of business
Feelings: Surprise! I didn’t realize what was expected of me
Questions: What have I been neglecting? What young-girl part needs attention? How would taking care of this be a new beginning?

Research:
The most famous Bethany was a village on the eastern slope of Mount Olivet, about three kilometres from Jerusalem. It’s where Jesus’ three friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus lived, and where the latter was raised from the dead (John 11:18).

It seems that I am on the right track. I remind myself that all dreams in a night, however dissimilar the imagery, are related in theme.

Dream #2
Associations:
A distraught man
My husband? My inner masculine? He’s about my age. The active inner force. The doer (as opposed to the dreamer). The man who gets things done.


Prostrate
Gland. Sperm production. Reproduction. Ability to produce children. Symbolically, the source of new ideas (children).
But, it is on fire, burning up, too hot. Destroying what is inside? Not being used? Seed is not being released. Pent up. Source of cancer.


Bag of frozen peas
urine? Pee? Bag—testicles? Large blue X—not good anymore?
The solution I offer won’t cure the problem—just freeze it for a while. Inner man rejects it.
Go to emergency—is it an emergency? Are things worse than I perceive?

Title: the burning prostate
Theme: the danger of neglecting one’s creativity
Feelings: once again, I feel aloof, not emotionally engaged with the problem.

Questions: How can I get the creative juices flowing again?

Dream #3
Associations:
Unfamiliar house
a place I have never been, an unrecognized place in myself


Large empty rooms
no furnishings=no ideas, no inner furniture, bleak


Weathered wood

feminine, natural material, usually outdoors, how did it weather inside? The feminine is old, tired but still holding up, still strong

Seeking an exit
I am lost inside this barren space, need to escape

Police detective
someone who solves crimes, the part of me that can help me out of the bleak house, my conscience
Prescient dreams
dreams that foretell, a consciousness of something beforehand, I know the murderer but my conscience will have to prove the guilt.

Title: the murder of creativity
Theme: problem solving
Feelings: sadness about the old house and the empty rooms, lethargy as I wander, hope when I meet the detective. ( Frustration when I woke up and wondered why my unconscious chose the word “prescient” because my conscious self didn’t know its meaning.)
Questions: How will my conscience solve the problem? Who/what did murder my creativity? Self-doubt? How do I restore my belief in mySelf?

Wow! That exercise, as time-consuming as it was, proved not only helpful, but necessary.
For almost two weeks, I procrastinated about writing. Found excuses at first and then retreated into inane NetFlix dramas. Killing time. Killing creativity.

The solution, of course, is to write. Simply write. No matter how uninspired. No matter how crudely done. The simple act of writing restores us to ourselves.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Sylvia Plath

The Bird Feeder

I don’t feed the birds because they need me; I feed the birds because I need them.

Kathi Hutton

Mom, at ninety-six, beside her feeders

A Wednesday morning in January 2021. Minus four degrees Celsius. A shimmer of snow. A shiver of wind. Tentative sunbeams through rippled clouds. A perfect day for a walk.

We meet at nine. My neighbours and I. I wait. This day, no one comes. I walk alone.

Pronoia…the belief that good things are just waiting to happen. I’ve been waiting for a spark. An inspiration. Without companions, stillness enters. Only the crunch of boots on brittle snow. The swish of swinging arms against a scarlet coat. My mind relaxes. Then plays with a word. Alone.

**********

As she grew older, and older, and older still, my mother’s most ardent wish was not to die alone. My sister said she did. I don’t believe her.

Mom died at ninety-seven. But, she was probably ninety-eight. We celebrated Mom’s birthday on September 22. However, when I prepared a natal chart for her, it didn’t belong to the woman I knew. Mom said that her oldest brother once told her that she, the seventh child, was born in August—harvest season on the Manitoba farm. Some weeks later, her parents, Anton and Maria Koshelanyk, journeyed from Caliento to Steinbach—only thirty minutes by car today but an arduous trek in 1917—to register the birth. Both spoke only Ukrainian. The registration date became Mom’s birthday.

At ninety-two, Mom moved from her small home into a retirement community. She had a bright one bedroom, ground-floor apartment with a small, but fully functional kitchen. Her two garden plots provided an abundance of fresh produce for her to eat and preserve. Her several bird feeders that hung just beyond the living room window provided food for her spirit. Behind them lay conservation land—trees, scrub, wildflowers, and grasses—an abundance of camouflage for avian visitors. Mom insisted that black oilers furnished the best nutrition and would tolerate no “cheap bird blends.” A myriad of breeds crowded her feeders: woodpeckers, sparrows, juncos, nuthatches, chickadees, and cardinals—as many as five vibrant red males at one time! Bully birds, especially jays, would also fly in but mom shooed them away. In spite of the deterrents that my brother provided, her battles with squirrels were less successful.

One winter afternoon in her ninety-seventh year, Mom headed out to replenish the feeding station. Stepped into a snowbank. Sank beyond her knees. Struggled to free herself–without success. In time, a passerby rescued her. Then, that good Samaritan reported the incident to the authorities. The latter prohibited Mom from leaving the building to feed the birds. They bolted the service door that she usually used and threatened to remove the feeders if she disobeyed the order.

Mom told them, “If you take away my feeders, I will die.”

A compassionate custodian took over the job of restocking the bird station. One day, when her helper was off-duty and the feeders were empty, Mom placed suet and feed beside the living room window. She opened the sash, climbed out, retrieved the food and fed her feathered friends. Her mission accomplished, she clambered back in. However, once inside, she couldn’t close the sash. It refused to budge the last two inches. Mom turned up the thermostat, donned a heavy jacket and waited for my sister’s next visit.

When Mom was ninety-six, she stayed a week with us in Prince Edward Island. She told me at the time, “Prairie, don’t live to be this old. It isn’t any fun. I’m ready to go.” Even so, she lived another fourteen months. We siblings believe that she decided to stay around until a great-grandson was born. The baby was expected on my father’s birthday, April 27. Lincoln arrived one day early. When he was just days old, my niece took him to see his great-grandma.

Mom, granddaughter Kim and great-grandson Lincoln, May 2015

Shortly before that visit, health assessors determined that Mom was functioning well and would be able to continue in her present location for some time. Two weeks later, Mom was put on an emergency transfer list. In a phone call I asked her how she felt about the move to a nursing home. “I don’t like it at all,” she said. That was our last conversation. From that day on, words refused to move from her brain to her tongue.

On July 1st Mom was transferred to her new residence—a single dingy room on an upper floor of a large rectangular block of bricks. She refused to have any of her artworks hung or photographs displayed. She turned her chair away from the small window. There was nothing to see. There were no birds to feed.

Two months and three days later, the nurse in charge told my sister that Mom’s organs were failing. She died that night.

Was she alone? I don’t believe so. In the spring I had a dream that I shared with Mom. In my vision, Mom and I sit close together on the upper tier of an open bleacher. Sunlight bathes us. We don’t speak. Just enjoy the warmth and the view over the empty playing field. After a time, my Aunt Alice, Mom’s favourite sister, appears. She smiles at each of us then takes Mom’s hand. The two vanish.

I’m grateful I told Mom my dream. Like, me she is a believer in visions.

After my walk today I filled my bird feeders. Used a special treat—hulled black oilers. I gazed up at the sun-streaked sky and said, “Hi Mom.”

Mom’s summer bird feeders

Early in the Pandemic Beauty Parlours Closed but Hair Continued to Grow

I think that the most important thing a woman can have- next to talent, of course- is her hairdresser.” – Joan Crawford

Me in late July with my newly- cut very short hair

I wear my hair short. Really short. I book haircuts six months in advance—one every five weeks. Melanie, my stylist, seldom has a cancellation. That was, until March 2020 when a pandemic shut down her place of business.

Human heads sport about 100,000 hairs. Fifty to two hundred of those are shed every day. Thankfully, for most of our lives, the lost ones get replaced. A few years ago, some of my replacement hairs began behaving in unexpected and irksome ways. For example, when my head is left unshorn, white tufts encircle my ears. I resemble a hoary clown, blonde hair now white but still fuzzy. I soak the frizz with water or gel. Paste it to my cheeks. That works—for a while. Then a single strand springs up and out and bends forward or backward. Then another and another. After I rediscovered some silver barrettes in a old cosmetic case, I smoothed back the disobedient hair then clipped it to my scalp. In time it escaped even those metal prisons.

There is a more than an image problem with my longer hair. I’m allergic to it. When my bangs lengthen and cover my brow, they irritate my eyes. Dry, red, itchy lids result. So, I wet and gel and clip them back as well.

Outdoors is easier. Walking or gardening, I wear a hat. I tuck most of the overgrown frizz under a large wool toque or a lavender brimmed sunbonnet. I wondered if I couldn’t wear a head-covering indoors—a turban, a towel, a nightcap? A ridiculous notion. In a pandemic, no one can drop in anyway!

As I focused on my longer-hair problem, I thought, “How silly I am! What a trivial concern mine is in such a time!” But, is it trivial?

Long ago I dreamt that, against my will, someone cut my hair. In past dreams, I always had long hair. The dream-me cried angry tears. I remembered that when Delilah had a servant cut Samson’s long locks, she deprived him of his strength. I wondered, “What inner energy is robbing me of my vitality?” I must have figured it out as I haven’t had such a dream in decades. How do people unfamiliar with the Bible interpret certain dreams? Perhaps our unconscious sends each of us symbols it knows we will understand even if we are not immediately aware of their meaning.

In late June, I got a hair appointment. I asked Melanie just to trim my four-months “long” hair. I thought I would like it. The next time I saw her, I said, “Cut it off!” Melanie smiled. She said that I was a little person and I needed “little” hair. But, like me, Melanie soars to a height of just over five feet. And, her hair grazes her shoulders. However, its obsidian shagginess, her flowing dark robes, her unique metal necklaces, and funky footwear are the antithesis of my fluffy white locks, bluejeans, unadorned neck, and Birkenstocks—worn with socks. I guess that some people, no matter their stature, can carry off the long-hair look.

Research informed me that historically, hair has always been important to women. A bad hair day can adversely affect a woman’s self-worth. I wasn’t unique in my concern regarding the fuzzy clown-look.

In September 2014, Lucinda Ellery, a hair specialist, wrote:

Hair and beauty is a multi-billion-dollar industry…the average woman spends approximately $50,000 on her hair over her lifetime and almost two hours a week washing and styling her hair. This is not just because many of us believe that appearances are important, but also because our hair represents our personality, thoughts and beliefs. For centuries, women have been able to play different roles by changing different hairstyles, and from their stories, we can see that hair contributes greatly to women’s self-esteem, actions and motive.

The pandemic rages on. However, hand sanitation and masks make regular haircuts possible once again. My morale is boosted each time I visit Melanie in her salon. A not-so-small thing in a difficult time.