Q: I’m at a lake with some of the cast of The Wonder Years, Fred Savage and the guy who played the dad. We are happy. The scene feels like the old footage from the beginning of the show. We are water skiing, almost like cross-country skiing, on the pristine water of the lake. As we approach the shore, I see black squid in the water just around the shoreline. They’re not huge, and are sort of lazily swimming about. Some of them are crawling on me and I find the experience enjoyable. We have these old fishing nets and we try to catch several of them to eat for dinner. I catch one and we put the creature on the shoreline in the sand. He just hung out there, I think. Just before waking up, I remember seeing a dead, slightly hardened squid in the water. I poked it just to make sure.
A: My first impression of this dream was simply that it is very beautiful. Aesthetically lovely. A flat, calm lake and black playful squid? How curious and interesting.
Beyond that first impression, however, this dream left me rather curious. I had to ask you some questions about it and you answered them. The following, for our readers, includes information you provided me in the course of talking. I wish I could have captured the full conversation because it was a rather illustrative example of what unfolds with dream work.
I asked you first if this lake reminded you of anything and you responded that there were some similarities to one you went to as a kid. “With your dad,” I asked? “Yes, sometimes with my dad.” The beginning of the dream and the reference to The Wonder Years, felt to me less a reference to that show than an illustration of the relationship between a boy and his dad. The struggle of growing up, and the way that one’s relationship with his father is redefined over time. The end of this dream was a bit of a twist on how I might have imagined this dream to end, however, but this was my hunch: the dream is mirroring specific elements of your relationship with your father, and while the majority of the relationship is rather lovely and comfortable (playful squid, a beautiful lake, serenity), there’s one element that has come up from the depths of the water that is rather dead and stagnant, like the squid at the end of the dream. You poke it sometimes to check for sure, but find that it really has died and hardened as you anticipated.
“Is there something in your relationship with your father that you’re struggling with right now?” I asked. You offered that there is. You and your dad do not see eye-to-eye on the intersection between science and God, you explained. You respect him, love him, and look-up to him, but in this one area, the conversation is stalled and it’s somewhat heartbreaking for you. While we were talking, you remembered another dream that more overtly referenced these themes: you were debating your father about gay marriage and felt terribly disappointed with his arguments. You felt sad that you could not respect him in this area, and at the end of the dream, he died.
You are wrestling on deep levels, it seems, with the struggle in values between you and your father. Like the squid, it is coming up to the surface, from the waters of your unconscious and the landscape of your childhood. From these questions, we were led into a long conversation about God, theology, family, politics, and values. We have your dream to thank for that.
Do you have a question about your dreams? Send me an email! email@example.com
Easy sign-up to receive my weekly newsletter with the dream of a reader explored (that’s you!).
Satya is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in applicable dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and the stage of life between young adulthood and mid-life.