Are you afraid to fly?

We’re just finishing Pathways to Bliss in my poetry course, and then we’re going to read the first two essays from Man and His Symbols, a collection of essays edited by Carl Jung for the everyday person. I’m ready to take on Jung after Campbell’s excellent recap  of modern psychology in Pathways to Bliss, from Freud to Adler, and from Jung to Maslow.

In Jung’s introduction he says the basic function of dreams is to restore psychic balance in our lives. We tend to evade the truth in our waking life, and dreams try to open us up to modes of behavior we might not be ready to admit to ourselves. Dreams can also reveal our hidden potentials to us. As an example of the former, Jung says,

“It explains why people who have unrealistic ideas or too high an opinion of themselves, or who make grandiose plans out of proportion to their real capacities, have dreams of flying or falling.”

I love to have flying dreams. Even the ones where I just bounce around. When I wake up I feel exhilarated, ready to take on any challenge, especially artistic challenges. But after reading this passage, I began doubt myself again. I started wondering if I’m like some of the poor schmucks on American Idol, self-delusional with little chance of a public reception of my work. I don’t want to be someone who says, Well, the world just isn’t ready for me yet.

On the other hand, I also ask myself if I would continue to write poetry and short stories if no one else read them. I think I would. I would be my own reader, which is basically my current situation anyway. And since I prefer to continue writing no matter matter what, I interpret my flying dreams as meaning I need to embrace my hidden potential that I didn’t have the confidence to see until I flew.

4 thoughts on “Are you afraid to fly?

  1. Deb says:

    I admire Jung a great deal (and studied him a bit myself), but I think he got that interpretation wrong. I drempt more when I was a child, and I was not overly self-confident. Hopeful, exuberant, interested — I miss flying dreams. Good for you! And for your poetry, which I (would) love to read anytime. 🙂


  2. Julie says:

    Wow. This makes me wonder about myself. I have a lot of lucid dreams and realize that I’m dreaming. So I can do anything in the dream. Almost always, I choose to jump off a cliff and fly.

    I like your interpretation much better than Jung’s. Yes, keep flying, Christine! I love to read your work and would be thrilled to attend one of your readings someday.


  3. christine says:

    Hey, Deb. He goes on to say in this essay that all dreams need to be interpreted on an individual basis, so really, the angst about this passage is all my own. Jung’s the man, in my opinion! I would love to go to a Jungian analyst to talk about my dreams….

    Julie, I’ve had lucid dreams too, although not since I started at GSU. I need to be in a much more relaxed state of mind than I am now, with more time to focus. You’re lucky to have so many spontaneous lucid dreams. I’ve had a few that way, but mostly they come when I’m thinking about wanting to have one.

    Michelle, I’ve always been a little bit of a philosophy buff, but purely as an amateur. I love Campbell and Jung’s discussions of archetypes and myths. I’m not at all erudite…, but thanks for thinking I sound like it. I hope I don’t come across as pedantic. 😦 That’s a bore, isn’t it?


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