Did you ever have an imaginary friend as a child, or know someone who did? Whether it is the medicine man who speaks to plant divas, the child who sees fairies, the inventor who envisions something before it exists, or the composer who hears a symphony in a waterfall and then writes it; the mysterious nature of our subjective worlds allow each of us to tune in to aspects of reality that others don’t see. Something may be real for us but not validated by the outside world. I think all of us experience this feeling at some point. We live in a reality that is surrounded by mysteries, but our culture is obsessed with explaining them away. The mystery of our dreams remains untouched by the outside world.
Some cultures embrace the “Great Mystery” by understanding that what is known is dwarfed but what is unknown. Dreams allow multiple ideas (even conflicting ideas) to co-exist in the same moment. Dreams remind us that, even in the literal world, sometimes conflicting ideas can both be true. Do we have the ability to step back and allow all perspectives to inform us openly?
Anyone who has spent time making art with children or playing in nature with them has probably been awed by the wonderful worlds of imagination they inhabit. We have all seen art that has caused us to question the artist’s sanity or our own sanity, or the sanity. It is easy to wonder the sanity of our culture sometimes, or just laugh and cry at the colliding emotions that life stirs within us.
We all love to feel like there is something more, something beyond the reach of what is known that brings freshness to what has become mundane in our lives. Yet we usually resist it or push it away when it does present itself, choosing to reside in the comfort of what is “known.” Some dreams are better left as dreams and some realities turn out to not be as concrete as we once thought. Regardless, we are caught in the tides that wash us to the shore and pull us back into the dark depths of ocean waters. Perhaps allowing ourselves to accept this process will help us cope with the ebb and flow of our changing times.
“Life is not measured by what you know, it is measured by what you are willing to explore of the unknown and the inspiration you share along your journey.” — A Box Of Secrets
At Culture Collective we are always exploring how stories continue to be the thread that holds the seems of our lives together, and celebrate the ways that media and art influence our cultural landscape. When our stories change, the reality we experience changes also. What do your dreams tell you and how do they affect the way you live in this world?
Stories come to us in subtle ways, inspired by dreams, a quiet moment in nature, or a good film. Yet we are still influenced by advertising that wants to convince us we are not enough, or that we don’t have enough. We accept judgments from loved ones that may be based in their own fear and jealousy, or their inability to understand the unique person that we are. Yet we ingest these stories and perpetuate them without barely time to consider if they are valid to our own heart. What stories have you ingested that no longer serve you?
If I told you that this post was inspired by a short and poetically beautiful film, would you want to watch it?
Over the holidays, my lifelong friend Chase Bowman shared a five-minute film he’d recently worked on. The film, Jolly Friends Forever More was written and directed by Kaz Phillips Safer. In 2010 she submitted her script to The Cinereach REACH Film Fellowship, which provides a continuum of financial, creative and professional support to emerging filmmakers developing vital, artful short films, and it was accepted. The end result is below.
When I spoke with Kaz about the project she raised the question, “What is it about the power of childhood imagination which normalizes (allows for) something that, in an adult, is pathological (unacceptable)?” I am still pondering the thought. Art is one way that adults continue to play like children for their whole lives. For some, sports and games is another way. For many though, dreams are the only place that imagination is expressed unrestrained.
Kaz asked me to make sure that due credit was afforded to her awesome team, including cinematographer Chase Bowman, production designer Deb O, choreographer Dan Safer, producer Christina King, editor Carter Carter, composers Anton Sanko and Joel Thompson, as well as actors, Sean Haberle and the amazing Arden Truax who played the little leading lady.. Give her website a visit, or go and see what other amazing projects she’s working on.
You don’t need to give up the responsibilities of adulthood in order to dream like a child. As we learn to accept and laugh at those parts of ourselves that we don’t understand, we may learn to accept those parts of others that we don’t understand. This compassion allows for the metaphors, the mysteries, and the magic to sprout new stories in our lives. I used to think I had dreams, but I have since realized that dreams have me. I like it that way…
Article originally appeared on Huffington Post under the title “When Dreams and Reality Collide” updated for Culture Collective