It hit me one day, many years ago on one of countless long aimless and solitary walks through Paris that all of matter is intelligent. Not just matter, but everything that exists: gases, flames, liquids, the invisible as well as the solid. Everything is as fluxful, comedic, and intentional as the ancient primitives always knew. One day, scientists will finally admit or explain how all of nature speaks through not just us but everything, and how we are all dreaming this existence together.
Humans, proto-humans of the last 750,000+ years long ago established a pre-literary language of pictures and stories, and they knew the value of dreams. Like Temple Grandin’s title “Thinking in Pictures”, I suspect that ancient peoples, like animals still do, thought largely in image form. The heritage of this source of prehistoric language remains alive in our dreams. Dreams are the stories that belong to all of us, translated and personified to an individual. The art of dreaming is the foundation of psychology, art, spirituality, and all forms of communication. Most importantly, dreams are the most common and obvious form in which we are all able to access the purity of our nature. The closest thing we humans have to instinct is the ability to perceive these images and stories and know that they come from our source.
Art in its many forms is so important to humanity because it is a fulcrum on which is balanced our connection to nature and to culture…what we invent as a society to contain our impulses and to create a sense of common purpose. What Jung labeled as the collective unconscious, a collection of archetypes and legendary stories which people our subconscious minds, is the source of inspiration for artists and writers everywhere. Each of us is able to identify with these themes and characters because they are part of our individual psyches and our common history as humans.
Sometimes, as human beings, we think of ourselves as being outside of nature, but dreams are proof positive that we are an integral part of this flowing process of change. Fairy tales and folk tales are treasure maps which serve as a key to unlocking the secrets and dilemmas which plague each of us and prevent us from growing and changing. Stagnation is always a threat when a culture becomes too established or when an individual’s life becomes too set in its ways, comfortable and monotonous. The force of life, of nature itself is to urge us to grow. Every event, dilemma, loss, or awakening of desire is a manifestation of being alive, and it is nature’s impetus to push us along, to urge us to evolve, to stay alive…emotionally and physically.
I might hazard a guess and say that culture is stimulated by fear and the desire for order and preservation, while nature’s ultimate goal is to keep us truly alive, accepting of loss, grief, and always moving with its flow. When we fall out of balance in our lives, either personally or collectively, the role of nature – our nature – is to pull us back into life. Through our dreams, intuition, and our connection to our source, we are able to revive our cultures and recenter our personal lives.