Sunday, January 31, 2010

double woolgathering and the magic of metaphor

Last night I happened onto a link that took me back to my own blog posts in 2007, and before I clicked away again, I noticed a post titled woolgathering.

I love the notion of woolgathering, the word itself, the image it provokes in my head, and the idea of the physical action of gathering bits of wool, which in my mind are all the lush, deep colors I love best.

When I was in graduate school, seeing my very first client as a therapist, I had a powerful dream in which the client, a young child, brought me bits of wool. Together we wound the wool into a ball, which came to life, and over the course of several months, I taught the child to care for the living ball of wool. Later, in the end of the dream, the child came up with the idea of knitting a sweater with the wool, which would keep him warm long after I was gone from his life, and would be alive with all the work we'd done as client and therapist.

I wrote a paper using that dream as the basis for what has become my personal metaphor to doing therapy. So the notion of woolgathering grew another layer for me, much like that growing ball of yarn grew for the client in the dream.

Last night, instead of leaving the page of posts I'd happened onto, I scrolled on down, scanning my own writings from two years back, intrigued with the ability to travel so easily back in time for a little while.

Then I came across the following excerpt:

Addendum: I was looking through some old writing this a.m., looking for a particular passage that I thought might fit into the work. Didn't find it, but did come upon this dream I had back in 2005:

a huge garden (writing) spider built a gigantic web over my bed - it was thick and wide, the shape of a book when lying open. woven into it was a cross (runic cross??) there was a beautiful hummingbird hovering behind the web, trying to get through, but the web was so thick ... and then it began to glow, gold and green.

My gosh - I have absolutely no memory of that. What a wonderful dream. This is why we should write them down - we forget, even the ones we don't think we will.

I had written that dream down in 2005, discovered it in 2007, at which time I did not even remember having it, and then, last evening, rediscovered it yet again in 2010.

I still don't remember it, but even five years later it creates a huge wave of wonder in me, and appreciation both for my dream world and for the ability of words to transport, not once but many times.

In a way, the act of forgetting here is a gift, because it's the rediscovery of such a joyful memory that makes it so incredible. If I remembered the dream it wouldn't have the magnitude of impact it does when I find it now.

I don't know what meaning I attributed to the dream in 2005, but now it describes, in a perfect symbolic image, what the process of writing means to me.

And without going into a long ramble about where I am right now writing-wise, suffice it to say that finding that forgotten metaphor last night held a particular magic. The timing for my woolgathering was perfect.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I've always loved the word woolgathering and the images it evokes. I suppose it can mean many things to different people depending on your perspective.

I love that you found a dream from five years ago and it meant something magical to you at this point of time in your writing. Your posts are always very thought provoking.

billie said...

Arlene, you've reminded me that I've completely shifted away from the actual meaning of the word. :)

Jenn said...

I love the woolgathering story about the young client. Don't we all long for those warm, woolen sweaters created from our very own woolgathering? Comforting in a way no other can be.

Thank you for sharing!

billie said...

Thank you, Jenn. That particular dream was one I'll never forget, and it hasn't lost its power.

jme said...

what an amazing journey back through memory! i have always loved finding old notebooks and reading the thoughts i had written down there, long since forgotten, and remembering a place i used to be or rediscovering some facet i had forgotten was there! you remind me that i really should keep a journal - lately in particular i have been having some odd and very vivid dreams i'm sure would be interesting to remember years from now.

i love that you are able to go back and reinterpret those old visions with fresh eyes so that they continue to have significance in the present - that is the way all good, meaningful mythology is created :-)

billie said...

love it, j - the idea of creating my own mythology!

If I ever get my novels out into the world, some of my mythology does weave through all the books, and sort of connects them all, even when they are about different characters in different times and places.

Michelle said...

Billie, you always have a way of evoking warmth and comfort in your posts. I can't really explain it, but I love the way you view the world and its inhabitants. The image of woolgathering and the dreams you shared with us are particularly evocative for me. I feel like I'm supposed to be learning something from you, guess I better get on it! =)

billie said...

Michelle, what a lovely thing to read - it has made my day! :)

Anonymous said...

I really appreciated what you said about forgetting being a gift - an acknowledgement of cyclical learning for me, and a waving of the warning flag to keep from getting down about not remembering every detail of everything. Then, I thought how journals act as a flashstick of knowledge, to keep our random-access-memory free to process the moment.

The idea of wool gathering, and bringing together bits of wool, and redefining them into a meaningful sweater - certainly put a different spin on daydreaming for me. Such a beautiful image.

billie said...

Wendy, thanks for writing that - it put me a little bit more in tune with the idea of daydreaming being the process of giving the time and opportunity to our unconscious to deliver bits of information to us that we can then put together in a new, lasting way.

Why, for me, woolgathering/daydreaming can be a wonderful thing.