Freedom: an aspiration

Perhaps the prospect of the changes that I needed to make had started to weigh heavily on me....

I heard him before I could see him, metal-shod, clattering on the cobbled yard. He moved slowly, cautiously from the shadows to watch me. He had sensed my presence for some time and recognised that, like him, I was in trouble.

In truth I was lost, mind numb, muscles cramped with age and uncertain of my escape. The yard was walled, too high to climb and, in any case, I didn't know where I would find myself when I landed on the other side.  Though breathing hard, I stood stock still in a futile attempt to calm him. Pacing backwards and forwards, he became increasingly agitated and then, shoes sliding precariously across the wet stone, he suddenly turned and galloped hard towards me.

Anticipating the impact, I turned away and braced myself as he rushed closer. They say that a galloping horse would never willingly deliberately trample a human - but maybe this one will be different? From two paces away, he jumped, soaring over me into the darkness. I turned to see him land but he had gone and the wall behind me vanished into the ether. A morning sun started to light lit the sky and I walked cautiously into freedom....

Sigmund Freud's 'The Interpretation of Dreams' was published in 1899 and introduced the idea that our dreams are an attempt by the unconscious to resolve psychic conflict.  He might claim that the apparent entrapment of the horse, in direct contrast to the mythical, wild freedom that they symbolize, can be seen as my story to myself in my circumstances. So, what was I seeing as I faced the horse? And what was the story telling me?

As I make plans for the future, I am using the dream as material to understand more of my unconscious, and to access the 'knowing' that might be just out of reach of my conscious, 'rational' mind. I've been reflecting on how I might be constraining myself unnecessarily and wondering about the walls that, over the years, I have built in good faith, but that might now confine me.  Of course, I've been photographing, writing in my journal, sketching and doodling as I've uncovered some of my own less than helpful patterns and routines.

Over the years, I've learned that I'm not so interested in specific goals or detailed performance objectives (does anyone still do SMART?); our world is too unpredictable and complex for that kind of strategy to make sense. But I am interested in working opportunistically, improvising and riffing over an intention or general direction of travel. I'm also instinctively drawn to Arnold Beisser's 'paradoxical theory of change' where he says that we change through becoming more of what we are not by attempting to become something (or someone) we are not

So what do I take from my dream? I guess I know that I appreciate freedom; that I seem to live at some distance from 'the herd' and confined, walled spaces, however they present themselves, in an organizational or social sense, are not my natural ground.  I sense that, if I am to thrive, there are lessons for me about convention, expectation and liberty.  As I write, I begin to find other connections - and, of course, the photograph I made and chosen of one of our horses tells me even more.  All of this 'data' will, I hope, become part of my on-going 'inquiry' into how I can become fully present and authentically whole in my life and work, and will unfold over the coming year or so...

In the meanwhile, what are you dreaming of and what might your dreams tell you?

Steve MarshallComment