by Pia Fritsch, Prairiewoods Intern

On Monday as part of the Dream Retreat we watched Finding Joe. This was a really touching and illuminating movie. I have looked at the hero’s journey before, but it was communicated in a novel and heartfelt way in this film. A lot of people appreciated how it expressed religious and spiritual themes but in psychological language that didn’t have any ties or connotations attached to them. I liked how the people talking about Joseph Campbell’s model had lived that story, each in their own way. They had each followed the calling of their own heart. I particularly liked the speaker who had dropped out of college then started coaching basketball. He then created a company that hired the law firm he would have worked for if he had continued college. That really showed the full circle of events. It was also encouraging, because it shows that you don’t have to take the traditional or “safe” route. Yet, you can still support yourself. Then the next morning we were asked to take a card from the center table. I felt drawn to this orange colored card and picked it up. The message of the card was that there is a point when it is more painful to resist the inner tide of events than it is to take that leap of faith. “No one can give you a blessing for the leap other than your own inner God.” That was really powerful that I drew that particular card. It held exactly the message I needed to hear. As I read the first sentence I doubted if it meant anything. Then I read on and it had exactly the right message for me. Sometimes I feel like cards can have a message that applies but is not particularly pertinent. In this case it could not have had a more fitting message for me in this moment.

The process of dream analysis is more elaborate than I have done before. It takes longer, and sometimes I feel like the questions about the dream details can go on for a really long time. However, once the projections are expressed and the dreamer tells their story it seems like everyone gets a lot more out of it. At other times when I’ve interpreted dreams in a group it seems like too short of a process. There isn’t enough exploration of the dream, so this is good to get all that you can get out of a dream. I really like the quote I’ve heard which is that dreams are “unopened letters from God.” There is a lot more to a dream than the surface level. Sometimes it seems like a dream is just about a worry related to work, but then it also shows the neglected parts of yourself and ties in to other personal relationships. The deepest theme of all of the dreams we have interpreted so far is diminishment and aging. I can relate to some of the other things in the dreams, but this aspect is just part of a different time in life that I am just not a part of right now. I am actually on the opposite side of that hill where I am learning to take on responsibilities and become an adult rather than relinquish responsibilities. I think it would be useful to do the dream process with people my age to get to the deepest feeling among us and share that experience. I think people are getting a lot out of sharing their feelings through their dreams, and it would be useful to do this in different groups of people to see the root theme with the different people.

I have gotten a lot out of the shadow-work discussions. Lately I’ve been having difficulty with my best friend. It really opened my eyes to see him as an embodiment of the rejected parts of myself, both the dark and the bright shadow. I can see that we both have a lot of personal development to do to be our best selves with each other again. In Romancing the Shadow Connie Zweig expresses that “the Shadow is at work attempting to recreate early childhood relationships with a secret mission – to heal old wounds and feel loved” (148). This quote really hits the nail on the head. I often reject the idea that our parents are to blame for all of our personality flaws, because to me, that feels as if we were not taking responsibility for our own shortcomings. However, I can see myself unconsciously recreating childhood dynamics with my best friends. This is a crazy thing to realize. Another aspect of the shadow is that the people we are most drawn to can become the people that infuriate us the most. It’s like we’re magnetic. The people we’re drawn to have the opposite polarity which we have the capacity both to adore and despise. I find that the people who are closest are the only ones who are close enough to get under our skin. Yet we still crave that closeness. It is only once we truly love our shadow that we can truly love another person. This is something that never seems to be completed for anyone. This can be good in that there is always greater depth to achieve, but negative in that we will never summit this particular mountain.

We also watched Groundhog Day. It was surprisingly representative of the hero’s journey. At first Phil is miserable and seeks only short term benefits for himself, but he eventually tires of this. He is still unhappy, so then he puts all of his effort into pursuing Rita. When that doesn’t work he turns suicidal. This is a darkly funny part of the movie, yet it coincides with the hero’s journey in that the ego must undergo a death in order to transform. Then he slides into a deep depression which represents the underworld in the hero’s journey, or rock bottom. Eventually he decides to delve into the arts simply for the sake of doing it. This seems to be the turning point. He also starts helping people just because he can. In doing this he attracts Rita towards him, because he has become a man that she can admire. I really like the set-up of the movie. People can feel like they are living the same day over and over again. We tend to attract the same people into our lives who react the same way and will continue to do so until we change ourselves. We have to learn to love our shadow as Phil does in this film as is represented by the groundhog, Phil, seeing its shadow. If we do that we can love where we are now and only by loving that place can we finally move on.