• Karl Thunemann

Unauthorized Joyriding

Not long after I began keeping track of my dreams—say in 1977 or ’78—I had this arresting dream:


The city police contact me about my young son, complaining that they have repeatedly apprehended him out driving the family car during the wee hours. He is too young to arrest, but they demand that I compel him to stop this dangerous habit. I talk to my son, explaining that he is too young to drive—that he must wait another seven years until he is eligible for a license.


And that’s it. Did he comply? I can’t tell. I recorded no follow-up dreams.


In my reading about Jung and saw that he espoused the idea that forty marks the age of individuation. This dream was about me and my dream practice!

I was certain the dream was significant. It stayed with me for several days while I tried to probe its meaning. Eventually, I came to the arithmetic. I was a relatively new dreamer, but I was already learning that the keepers of my dreams always use numbers precisely—never randomly. My son was seven years old; it would be nine years before he could get a driver’s license—not seven. But there was a context to be considered here. During these times when my son appeared in my dreams, he often represented new ventures.


So I took the next step, to the maxim that all characters might be considered as part of the dreamer’s own self. I was 33 years old. In seven years I would be … 40! I no longer remember if this led to an immediate aha! moment, or whether days of ratiocination were required. But whenever it arrived, the moment was unmistakable.





In my reading about Jung and saw that he espoused the idea that forty marks the age of individuation. This dream was about me and my dream practice! Night after night I would make note of my dreams. Some nights they came in clusters—three or four, each distinctly its own story. So I assigned a meaning to this dream. My exploration of my spiritual life was a tad precocious. In retrospect—40-plus years later—I didn’t carry my interpretation through to every aspect of the dream. This would have required me to accept the demands of authority that I curb my young joyrider.  I made no such effort, and I can distinguish no adverse consequences.


Some readers may complain that this epistle is about dreams, not meditation. But to them I say, Why quibble? Must we treat meditation and dreams as if they were dangerous criminals, each locked away in solitary confinement? Of course not! Every morning they meet in the day room, and freely influence each other. May I regard dreams as eloquent extensions of my meditation practice, and may this extend to labeling some dreams as “favorite meditations.”  

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