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 Hairdresser’s Sewing Lesson or Why Moving Furniture Is Good For You

The sofa against the “impossible” wall

Since birth, I have inhabited twenty-two different residences in eleven different municipalities in three different provinces. Some of the re-locations were beyond my control. For example, I was born on a farm, transferred to a city apartment, then moved into a house all before I turned two years of age. I had no say in those decisions. Most of the others were self-motivated. The need to uproot myself so often forms no part of this story. I have not examined the theme at any length. I suspect it’s a disease. However, as I have stayed put for six years, perhaps the illness is cured.

The adult changes of address had two serious repercussions: how to find a good hairdresser and how to arrange my motley collection of furniture.

In newest province I call home, I perch on a wooden bench in the change room of a yoga studio. I surreptitiously scrutinize hair styles, espy one that would suit me, ask its owner who cuts her hair.

Once home, a phone call to the salon is met with: “I’m so sorry, Melanie is not accepting new clients”. I leave my contact info anyway. It has been a month since my last haircut. Two more weeks pass. My usual super-short hair is now super-longish. From the internet, I choose a beauty salon at random and book an appointment. Just days before the crucial date, I get the call. Melanie has had a cancellation. Would I like to take it?

Yes!

There are no coincidences. Melanie is a soul mate. She talks about her Greyhound rescue; I share my Cairn Terrier stories. On my recommendation, she buys a copy of Living Your Yoga; on hers, I enjoy a dinner at the Landmark Cafe. She visits the Louvre and conveys her impressions; I build a black gazebo and she asks for photos to show her partner. She describes her successes in interior design; I show her pictures of my rooms to get her input. She says she would love to learn to sew; I invite her to my house for a lesson.

I have been sewing since I was seven. Mother sent to me to the Singer Sewing Centre on Main Street. The instructors assigned me to a children’s machine. Mother demanded that I learn on a full-size model. In order to reach the controls, I sat on a raised stool. I made a pink calico dolly’s nightgown. In another set of lessons when I was eleven or twelve, I constructed a light brown dress with inset pleats and darker brown piping. Later came blouses, dresses, slacks, jackets and vests. Then, dozens of costumes for my children—Halloween witches, devils, angels and clowns; ballet tutus; an ice-skating prince’s togs.

At some point, I determined that savvy shopping yielded well-made clothes at the same expense as fabric with no work involved. Well, except a new hem now and then. These days, I mainly sew home décor items—especially zippered covers for feather inserts. A change of seasons demands a change of sofa cushions.

On the appointed day, Melanie arrived with a portable sewing machine and a fresh apple pie in hand. Perfect synchronicity! It was Gilles’ birthday, and I’d not made him a special dessert.

After an hour and a half of instruction—threading the machine, winding the bobbin, straight-stitching, back-stitching, and squaring fabric, Melanie said that her brain was saturated. Then she asked, “Have you ever considered putting the sofa on that wall?”

I dare say, I had tried it on every other wall. But, not that one. That wall backed onto the garage and formed one side of a wide entry. You can’t put a sofa in a hallway. Instead, I had island-ed it and angled it and even considered replacing it. The room is a decorator’s bane—on its borders are four doors, three staircases, two closets and two wall extensions. For six years, without success, I had attempted to make the room “work”. In fact, I had changed the set-up so many times that Gilles, having more than once tripped over a re-positioned ottoman, learned to navigate its interior with caution.

I thought that my frequent rearrangement of furniture was, like moving residences, a kind of sickness. It was a relief to discover that the activity provides several health benefits. According to some studies, moving furniture and other movement-based creation–such as building a gazebo or sewing cushion covers–spur energy, spark joy, assist with problem-solving, and improve self-esteem. Further, Carrie Barron, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Dell Medical School, states in her article Rearranging the Furniture Makes Me Feel Better/ Achieving inner and outer harmony by moving things around:

An impact on the environment…lifts mood, provides concrete satisfaction, and instills a sense of effectiveness. Inner and outer harmony happen when pieces are placed in a way that makes sense for you.

With undisguised mistrust, I told Melanie I would “try” the sofa on that wall.

“Let’s do it now! I still have an hour before I have to leave.”

So, for the next hour we two small, strong women heaved and shoved and pushed and carried chairs, tables, chests, cabinets, rugs, artworks, lamps, and the sofa. When we finished, Melanie surveyed the room then said, “You need something small and narrow in front of the couch”. From the main bathroom we retrieved an antique oak chest of the perfect proportions. Melanie tossed a white faux-fur throw over it to “add texture and soften the angles”. With the transformation complete, for the first time since moving into the house, the room functioned to my specifications, exuded comfort, and even photographed well. And, as nothing had been bought, there was no buyer’s remorse. As Barron’s article predicted, we felt “creative, clever and resourceful”. I alone was astonished that a sofa could exist comfortably in a vestibule.

On seeing the metamorphosed space, a friend said, “Melanie missed her calling”. I hope not. Who so talented and compatible would cut my hair?

Home-sewn Halloween Costumes