Tag Archives: Dreams

If You Want Something, You’ve Got to Reach Out and Take It

Several months ago when I was still a student at George Mason, I was sitting in one of the coffeehouses on campus. Well, actually, it was the Starbucks. I differentiate Starbucks from coffeehouses because I know that some folks don’t necessarily see Starbucks as a coffeehouse anymore. Nonetheless, I was sitting in Starbucks, probably writing a post. In fact, I think it may have even been a Monday and I was working on a post for the list of biases in judgment and decision-making. Anyway, not entirely relevant.

As I was sitting there, I noticed a stranger ask a table of two if he could use one of their computers to charge his phone (they didn’t have their computers out). Invariably, I knew he was going to make his way to me and ask if he could use my laptop to charge his phone (he happened to have his USB charger, but not a charger that plugged into the wall). When both of the girls declined and he turned to me to ask if I’d be okay with it, thoughts of espionage raced through my mind. I think this was about the time that I had just spend a weekend watching a number of episodes from Alias, so “spy-stuff” was on my mind. Eventually, I caved and let him use my laptop to charge his phone.

As his phone was charging and he was waiting for his ride to arrive, we chatted briefly. I don’t remember how we got onto the subject of politics, but we did. He told me that he’d written a couple of books of poetry and sent them to the White House — to President Barack Obama. He also had written one to former President Clinton. I was quite shocked that he had been so bold as to send books of poetry to the 44th and the 42nd presidents of the United States. In fact, he even gave me a signed copy of the one he sent to Pres. Obama. More than that, he received responses from both of the presidents. In an updated edition of the book he sent to Pres. Obama, he had a picture of the letter he received from Pres. Obama.

Shortly after this, our conversation ended as his ride arrived. When he left, I got to thinking about the gusto it might have taken to drum up the courage to write a book of poetry and send it off to the President of the United States. Many of us may balk in anxiety at the kind of response we might get (if we even get a response!). Paralyzed by fear, we fail to reach for our dreams. If you want something, you’ve got to reach out and take it. This is exactly what this gentleman was doing. He wanted to write something for the President and he did — and he sent it to him!

I bet there’s something in your life that you’ve been putting on hold. Something that you’ve thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll do that later,’ or ‘I’ll wait to do that until I’m ready.’ I contend that TODAY is that day. Today, you are ready to do the thing you’ve been waiting to do. Don’t wait for your future. Reach out and seize it – today!

Thirty-Five Years Later… A Dream is Realized

In 1978, a young woman stood on the shores of Havana, Cuba, and set out to fulfill her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida — a 110-mile journey that includes sharks and plenty of jellyfish. The young woman wouldn’t succeed in her attempt that day. Nor would she succeed on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th tries. In 1978, there’s no way that she could have known that she wouldn’t have succeeded that day or that she wouldn’t have succeeded on three subsequent tries. Yesterday, however, on her 5th try, Diana Nyad successfully swam from Havana to Key West.

By now, no doubt, you would have heard of this incredible story. A triumph of perseverance and dedication. She had a goal and she wasn’t going to let anything keep her from it. It’s absolutely incredible that she first began this goal over 35 (!) years ago. Many of you out there probably can’t remember the goals you set 10 years ago, much less 35!

One of the most striking things I found about this story was how much has changed. For instance, when Nyad first stepped into the water in Havana to achieve her goal, she probably wouldn’t have guessed that the ‘achievement’ wouldn’t have happened for 35 years. Nor would I imagine that she would have guessed that her name and her story would have been trending on Twitter (what’s that, by the way?) or something called the internet. 1978. In 1978, there wasn’t even a Commodore 64, yet!


You’ve probably got some lofty goals. You probably hope to achieve them soon — great! Nyad’s story is a perfect example of why you needn’t give up on your dreams. If you’re looking for some inspiration, she’s certainly got a bucket full.

If you enjoyed this story, you’re probably also going to want to hear Nyad speak after she completes this 110-mile journey. You can see what she said on the last video at this link (Sorry, couldn’t embed it!)

Note: I thought I had embedded a video from ABC, but it turns out that the embedded code didn’t agree with WordPress. You can view the video that I tried to embed at the link above.

Wanna Make a Name for Yourself: Answer One of These Questions

In The Guardian today, there’s an article that lists “20 big questions in science.” If you want to be famous (at least in some circles), answer one of the questions. Of course, there are some ‘answers’ to the questions already. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that there are some hypotheses or that there is some ‘general knowledge’ in the domain of the question. However, there don’t seem to be any definitive answers, yet.

Here are the questions with a few thoughts after some of them:

1. What is the universe made of?

2. How did life begin?

3. Are we alone in the universe?

If pressed to give an answer on number three, I’d probably say something to the effect of: given how big the universe is, mathematically speaking, isn’t it more likely that there is other life out there somewhere than isn’t?

4. What makes us human?

5. What is consciousness?

On number five, I remember reading a very intriguing article in The Atlantic this past winter that explored the question: what does it mean to be conscious? It approached this question in the context of anesthesia. If this question interests you, this is one way to delve into the topic.

6. Why do we dream?

While there are many theories on why we dream, one of my favorite ways for interpreting dreams is through Jeremy Taylor’s method. This method also outside the context of dreaming.

7. Why is there stuff?

8. Are there other universes?

9. Where do we put all the carbon?

10. How do we get more energy from the sun?

Number ten, while also making you famous, would likely also make you extremely wealthy unless you went the route of Jonas Salk and polio.

11. What’s so weird about prime numbers?

12. How do we beat bacteria?

13. Can computers keep getting faster?

14. Will we ever cure cancer?

15. When can I have a robot butler?

16. What’s at the bottom of the ocean?

On number sixteen: when you realize that 95% of the ocean is unexplored, it sort of gets you curious about what might be down there. More than that, 99% of the Earth is water. There’s a lot we don’t know about the planet we inhabit.

17. What’s at the bottom of a black hole?

18. Can we live for ever?

19. How do we solve the population problem?

20. Is time travel possible?

On number twenty: if this turns out to be true, that would make for some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas.

Waking Up with Songs Stuck in your Head

When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to hear a song stuck in my head. I was less surprised that there was a song stuck in my head and more surprised about which song: “A Whole New World.” Remember that song? Remember Aladdin? My goodness — I haven’t seen that movie in ages, so I have no idea why that song would have been stuck in my head. Maybe it has something to do with what I was dreaming about – who knows.

The other odd part was that this wasn’t the only song stuck in my head. I also heard “Frosty the Snowman.” It was almost like the two songs were spliced and I’d hear a verse of Aladdin and then a verse from Snowman.

I don’t have anything profound to share about this experience, but I thought I would post the videos of the songs and give you a flashback to times when you were younger and saw the movie Aladdin or watched those Christmas specials on TV.

Jeremy Taylor’s Six Basic Hints for Dream Work

When I spent some time working for the , someone recommended that I read ‘s book called . Before reading Taylor’s book, I had already read about or heard of many dream theories. There’s , , ‘, , and the . After reading Taylor’s book, though, I was convinced — I had found the dream interpretation guide for me. On Taylor’s website, he offers that I’ve included below:

All dreams speak a universal language and come in the service of health and wholeness. There is no such thing as a “bad dream” — only dreams that sometimes take a dramatically negative form in order to grab our attention.

Only the dreamer can say with any certainty what meanings his or her dream may have. This certainty usually comes in the form of a wordless “aha!” of recognition. This “aha” is a function of memory, and is the only reliable touchstone of dream work.

There is no such thing as a dream with only one meaning. All dreams and dream images are “overdetermined,” and have multiple meanings and layers of significance.

No dreams come just to tell you what you already know. All dreams break new ground and invite you to new understandings and insights.

When talking to others about their dreams, it is both wise and polite to preface your remarks with words to the effect of “if it were my dream…,” and to keep this commentary in the first person as much as possible. This means that even relatively challenging comments can be made in such a way that the dreamer may actually be able to hear and internalize them. It also can become a profound psycho-spiritual discipline — “walking a mile in your neighbor’s moccasins.”

All dream group participants should agree at the outset to maintain anonymity in all discussions of dream work. In the absence of any specific request for confidentiality, group members should be free to discuss their experiences openly outside the group, provided no other dreamer is identifiable in their stories. However, whenever any group member requests confidentiality, all members should agree to be bound automatically by such a request.

A year after reading Dreamwork, little did I know that I’d have the opportunity to take a with at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. During my time at ITP, I have to say, hands down, it was one of my favorite classes. For 10 weeks, 3 hours at a time, I got the opportunity to put into practice the ‘hints’ that Jeremy Taylor offers in doing dream work. I got to see these tenets in action and let me tell you — it was marvelous.

Sometimes, the class would split up into smaller groups and sometimes we would stay together as the full class. When we stayed together as a full class and worked with one person’s dream, it was quite remarkable some of the a-has that happened (not only for the dreamer, but for fellow classmates!) In fact, it wasn’t odd for classmates to gain deeper insights (than the dreamer) as a result of interpreting a fellow classmate’s dream.

The best part about Taylor’s methods for interpreting dreams is that the interpreter can never be wrong (and simultaneously, never right). The person interpreting the dream (from hint #5) should always preface their comments with, “If it were my dream…” By doing this, the interpreter is taking ownership of their onto the dream. And according to Taylor, projecting onto the dream is all we can do (as the non-dreamer). When the dreamer tells the dream, as we (the group) listen to the dream, all that we can do is project onto the dream. Referring back to (hint #2), only the dreamer can be sure of what their dreams mean or don’t mean (for them). So, when someone says, ‘if it were my dream…’ anything they say (so long as it stays in their first-person), is true, for them. However, the dreamer may not accept their projections (or resonate with their projections). Speaking in this way may seem weird at first, but trust me, it really helps — especially if the dream is sensitive.

While I’ve introduced this post and Taylor’s work specifically as it relates to dreams, these 6 hints are useful in other ways. For instance, if one were trying to broker peace within some sort of group conflict, the whole “if it were my dream…” could come in handy (if we switch out dream for a more accurate description of what’s happening). The next time someone asks you to interpret their dream, I really encourage you to use the Taylor’s method, especially the whole idea of, “if it were my dream…” I think that in using this qualifier to begin our interpretation, not only are we being more polite to the dreamer, we’re actually giving a more accurate description of our interpretation (as, of course, our interpretation can only be a projection).

After I finished writing this post, I found a recent (as of May 2011) video of Jeremy Taylor talking about his dream work. He is talking about his dream work in the context of a course offering at (Note: this university is by ‘any regional accrediting agencies recognized by the US Department of Education nor by any other national governments’), so it’s semi-promotional, but for the most part, he elaborates on the six hints for dream work that I’ve included above. If any of what I’ve said about Taylor’s dream work in this post has interested you, I really encourage you to watch Taylor talk about it. He is very articulate!