When inmates call to share their dreams, one of the first things I tell them is that the way dreamwork goes is to remember that human beings have two sides: a lower nature or ego and a Higher Nature or True Self. We can think of the True Self as being Clear, Focused, Determined, Harmonious & Patient and the lower nature being confused, disorientated, unmotivated & disconnected. Often times “ego” shows up in my dreams as disorganized mess or clutter in the home.
For the past month I’ve been dreaming about living with very messy people and there’s never enough “space” for me. It’s always good to take a dream in two ways: first look at it metaphorically and then look at it literally. The symbol of this “ego mess” is that I am allowing other people’s “junk” (issues) clutter & distract me from my own sense of safety, security & well-being. This is not about actual, tangible, physical items in the environment. It’s about the way someone in a home or work place behaves in a way which impedes the growth & progress of the people around them. It can be as simple as me sitting down to write on the laptop and my 6-month old kitten climbing on the table for pets & cuddles. He’s a kitten so he doesn’t understand what he’s doing but he is interupting my flow. A child or spouse, parent, boss or colleguege may do the same. They have wishes, desires, needs and wants which they are putting above yours. Sometimes some of us are really good at putting other people’s needs above our own, to the detriment of our own selves.
After I take a look at where in my life someone’s metaphoric “mess” is cluttering up my space and I consider ways to work through that, then I can consider the literal meaning. Is my home cluttered? Am I hanging onto things whick I no longer love, or need, or use? The dreams could be simply telling me its time to let go of some of the old as the new is coming in.
Many Gen Xers like myself grew up in homes with parents who were baby boomers. Many of those baby boomers grew up in homes of people who struggle through the Great Depression from 1929-1933. They grew up in homes where money was tight and items were stored, saved, recycled, repurposed and reused in order to get by. The result of this hoarding behaviour can lead to an obsession if not managed consciously. The homes I grew up in were like this – cluttered, disorganized, messy, dirty. Old, broken, tainted, cracked items littered nearly every room. I literally grew up feeling like I lived in a flea market. LMAO. As it turns out, now that I’m adulting in my own home, I enjoy a minimalist style which has simplicity, beauty, warmth & charm.
For some reason, it feels taboo to even speak of this issue and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because even from the young age of 7 I felt ashamed of the mess I lived in. Often times I would clean the house and attempt to organize it before guests arrived. I felt embarrassed by the stacks of papers & envelopes on table tops, by the mayhem of miscellanous silverware & kitchen utensils haphazardly thrown into drawers which were so old themselves that they didn’t even open & close properly. Our dirty clothes was all over the laundry room floor. Pastas & rice which were WAY past their expiry date spread out across the backs of cupboard shelves. Food rotted in the back corners of the fridge drawers. Cobwebs in corners. Dust under dressers. Boxes & boxes & boxes of weird, outdated clothing and photo albums and knick-knacks piled floor to ceiling in our basements & attics. From the birth to age 20 when my parents split in 1992 we lived in seven houses which seemed to progressively worsen in their condition. This is not to point fingers or place blame or criticism because I understand the root cause of the issue. It’s just to say that I still have ongoing negative dreams about the living conditions in these homes and I’ve been learning how to create harmony, beauty & grace in my own living space.
It’s not clear to me whether I’m a minimalist by nature or by design. Is my desire for clutter-free comfort a reaction to living in clutter? Or is it just who I am naturally? Not sure. But for whatever reason, it is what it is and it gives me great joy to create harmony in my home. Therefore, when mess & clutter show up in dreams I know to start looking for ego. Here are some questions to ask if you also find yourself wrestling with chaos in the home – metaphorically or physically.
- Do I love it?
- Do I need it?
- Do I use it?
- How often do I use it?
- Does it bring value to my life?
When there is love in the home and unity among the parents & children, then even small egotistical messes can be cleaned up. It’s just a matter of communication & planning & cooperation. What does everyone love and need? What do the people in the home use and how often? In what ways do the items, activities & commitments bring value to the family?
For a while, I’ve been ignoring these questions and just trying to “get by” hoping the issues would pass but they are not going away so it’s time to address them head on. This post is my attempt to bring some normally hidden issues into the light and to continue on the process of living & enjoying a minimalist lifestyle with love. It’s my intention to talk openly about these issues because I am aware that so many people, especially women, do not feel they have the SPACE to be themselves and to really love the life they live. This post is meant to encourage, motivate & inspire YOU to get rid of the old & let the NEW in!