Our dreams are rich with insight, if we decode the messages.
This week, while facilitating a residential leadership retreat, one came my way.
“A long suspension bridge spanned the ‘Swan’ river. Sagging, it dipped beneath the surface of the water for a great distance. Yet people in cars and trucks were still crossing. I sensed a man beside me and began to question him … how do those cars manage to cross? Is there visibility under the water? Is there a strong current? How do you seal the car? How do they stay on the road surface? etc. And to my growing concern, he gave me no answer …”
In exploring dreams, the literal rarely makes sense, so I seek connections and associations.
First I was surprised how clearly I knew the name of the river. The Swan River. I know it’s the name of the river running through Perth, but this has no strong relevance to me.
Then I remembered the previous evening watching parts of Jonathan Swans’ interview of President Trump. Swan, an Australian journalist and son of Dr Norman Swan, impressed me with his very straight forward, almost innocent approach.
The second obvious association was with Covid-19. The pandemic and it’s impact was a dominant background to all conversations over the preceding two days.
The perilous crossing of the bridge in my dream, seemed a fair metaphor for the unknowns which lie ahead.
Finally my thoughts traced back to my roots where I grew up on a property located behind Fawcetts Creek, in northern NSW.
Each February, during the rainy season, the creek would flood. At times we would need to cross it.
The process was always the same.
First a scouting of the natural ford, to assess the depth of water (above waist deep was too dangerous) and whether the creek bed was stable and unobstructed.
Even now I can recall the mesmerising swirls and power of the red-brown torrent.
If driving across appeared feasible then the Land Rover was prepared.
WD40 sprayed onto the electricals, a hessian sack tied to the grill to reduce the water surge onto the radiator fan and engine.
The sturdy Rover was revved up and driven into the water at a confident speed.
Momentum is crucial. As is the ‘DO NOT STOP’ principle.
Once committed, there’s no room for hesitation or gear changes.
Fortunately we made each crossing safely.
When however the flood water was clearly too dangerous, we’d park the Rover.
Then hike three wet kilometres, skirting the creek along a track on higher ground, to a welcome home.
Last week I flew to Melbourne to scout the foundations of a Leadership Formation series there.
As the plane waited for take-off, the steward made
familiar announcements and then added, “We won’t be
serving tea and coffee on this flight due to expected
In his voice I heard uncertainty, whether saying this was
the right thing to do, but there it was, said.
So on that beautiful, clear morning I started to quietly
imagine lurking air pockets and Luna Park like plummets.
I always choose a window seat.
I like observing cloud structures, the topography of the
land and the cities passing below.
And for another reason. Looking out the window I watch
the bands of cloud we pass through and mountain ranges we
fly over and so I can ‘explain’ the occasional bump and
shudder. I guess this gives me a sense of security.
Anyway, at this point I wasn’t traveling light.
Anxious expectation floated in the cabin as the plane
climbed out of Sydney and jetted south west.
Forty five minutes later we passed above the stunning
Snowy Mountains. Isn’t this planet incredible!
And then the cabin crew passed by … serving tea and
Not long afterwards the pilot announced our imminent
descent into Melbourne. He warned of strong winds from the
south and the likelihood of a few ‘bumps’.
Again, the burden of worry infused the cabin …
The plane cruised out over the Bay and curved around to
land from the south, the first time I’ve experienced this
approach into Melbourne.
We landed perfectly, after what felt like the smoothest
flight of my life.
Two Fridays back, intending to write this note but weary, I turned my laptop off for the day.
A train ride took me to Newtown with a vague idea to walk and browse, maybe watch a movie, sit in a cafe and discreetly observe passing life.
At the Dendy I smiled to myself and rolled the dice, asking for a ticket to the next movie showing.
I confess to a momentary pause on discovering it was titled, ‘On The Basis of Sex’ … too early in the day for eros?
With half an hour to wait, Elizabeth’s second hand book shop called me.
Where a Leonard Cohen biography stared from the centre of a trestle table. An aunt who came of age in the sixties, once said he was a better poet than Dylan and more deserving of that Nobel literature prize. So the $14 seemed a bargain for me to decide for myself.
I notice my curiosity turning toward the ways art in all forms can stimulate and sustain a human spirit.
The film was excellent, telling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early legal career fighting sex discrimination. However, what caught my attention and really moved me was the portrayal of Ruth’s relationship with her daughter Jane. Clearly it was a mirror I needed to look into that day.
Afterwards sitting with coffee, feeling a little out of place on bohemian King Street, I skimmed my new book.