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My Buffalo

Thursday 06/04/2009 11:20 PM

About a year ago I had an important dream. It wasn't important because I immediately understood what it meant to me. It was important because I could feel it in my chest when I woke and I knew I'd never need to write it down to remember it.

I am asleep in an old shack in the woods and I've woken up in the middle of the night. I have been sleeping on the dirt floor and am now sitting up. My father is asleep next to me. It is dark outside and I can see the woods outside through the gaps between the boards that make up the walls of the shack. There is a buffalo standing alongside the rickety building and its one eye on this side is staring at me between the old boards. I lay back down and return to sleep.

I wake up again and it is the morning. The door of shack has been left open and there are drag marks in the dirt floor where my father was dragged outside to the woods. Somehow I know that a bear came while I was sleeping and it dragged my father away. I get up and wander outside into the woods.

As I exit the shack, I turn left and wander through the trees. It looks like Michigan, like the woods that surround my father's hunting camp. After a while I come upon my German Shepard Sheriff and he is rolled up in a fetal ball, balancing on his spine. He looks at me between his legs.

I take a few more steps and there is Argus. I am on his broadside and he is facing to left and growling. Behind him I see the back of a small single story gray building. I turn to the left to see what he is growling at and there is a wolf. The wolf is facing to the right, squared off against Argus and he is growling as well.


So what is the dream about? I could speculate as to why there is an aspect of my father that needs to be moved out of the way for me to have this experience. I could tell you about how bears are protectors for me that I don't identify with, at least not like I do with wolves. I could talk about how this is one of many dreams I've had about making a choice between my ideas about leading a domesticated life instead of a wild one. Instead, I want to talk about the buffalo.

When I first shared this dream with my Jungian analyst, Bob Johnson (no, not Robert Johnson, the famous Jungian analyst and author) he and I broke down the dream pretty quick, but neither of us were too sure about that buffalo. Bob asked me what buffaloes are about for me and I told him the first three things that came to mind when I thought of buffaloes were North American, primordial nobility. He didn't think any of that fit with the dream and he said he'd think about it.

About a month later I discovered a DVD in my collection with about an hour of footage of buffaloes in the wild under a rising sun. I watched it and meditated on what else buffaloes might mean to me. I thought about how they were almost hunted to extinction. Then I thought of resurrection. And then later, second chances. But I still wasn't sure how that fit into the dream.

Another month after that I was back in my Jungian process group after a lengthy hiatus and I shared this dream with the group in hopes that someone could suggest something about the buffaloes. Bob was there, of course, and he listened to me re-tell the dream. I shared my thoughts about near extinction, resurrection and second chances. Others in the group tossed out their own ideas, but nothing seemed to stick.

Then Bob piped up. The first thing he said was how much more clearly he can often see things after some time has passed and he hears a dream again. He then explained that he thinks the buffalo in my dream is an invitation. In the dream I'm in this place (the shack) were I am in the midst of the unknown (the woods, the unconscious), but I have limited access to this unknown space (the gaps in the boards). The buffalo appears in the middle of the night (again the unconscious, or perhaps the shadow) to invite me out. In the morning, my father has been moved away from me by another (unseen) denizen of the forest and I am then free to wander outside. In doing so I discover that some aspect of me is upside down (Sheriff) and that there is a conflict between my domesticated view of life (Argus, representing the life I have now) and my wild view of life (the wolf, representing how I once aspired for my life to be).

The buffalo is all about the invitation to discover these things and (perhaps) review my decisions about my life.

I turned forty a couple weeks ago and I've been heavily invested in my life review. Taking inventory and such.

In the midst of all this (and tons of work that's kept me busier than usual) I had an invitation to visit my father in Deland last weekend. I was supposed to go down Friday afternoon, but I put off leaving until Saturday morning (too much work). That delay seemed like a mistake, but it felt all right once I hit the road that morning. I took the back way, eschewing the interstate for US 27, hopping from Tallahassee to Perry to Chiefland to Ocala and, finally, to Deland.

Imagine my surprise when halfway between Perry and Chiefland I saw a buffalo on the other side of a fence running along the highway. I turned the car around to get a better look. After pulling over onto the shoulder, I grabbed my camera and tip-toed through the cactus to get a few shots of this big guy you see in your picture of the day.

It wasn't until this week, after seeing my dad, that I remembered my dream, my buffalo and my invitation.

And that, my friend, just might be a halfway decent example of synchronicity. Of course, like Bob says, synchronicity itself does us no good intrinsically. What matters is what we do with that experience. Like the wise man says:

The world needs demonstration more than it needs instruction.

(No, I don't remember who said it. But I'll figure it out later and update this page later with the proper attribution.)

As for the doing, though... as for my doing... stay tuned, my friend. I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Wish me luck.

File Under: Argus; Buffalo; Dad; Deland; Dream; Johnson, Bob; Jungian Process Work; Michigan; Quote of the Day; Sheriff; Synchronicity; Wolves
Music: The Smiths "Louder Than Bombs"

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