Monday, January 22, 2018

Sunday Review: Waking Microdreams?

A waking microdream?
Week 3, 2018 - A glorious week in Oaxaca, savoring the city and renewing friendships at Art House Oaxaca. (Much more about the experiences of Oaxaca at Mexican Art Villages).

After finishing a week in this magical colonial city filled with arts and crafts, and in keeping with my intention to Slow Down: simplify, savor and synthesize, it is time to contemplate what I learned.

Out of the more than 500 photos from this week, I chose one as my point of departure. Not an easy task as it was not the most beautiful, nor the most iconic, nor even the best. It was simply one that speaks to me, and asks the question … what is truth and what is shadow? Is shadow real? Does it hold a power of its own? This hotel marker is a strong graphic, however, the afternoon sun turned it into a more dramatic tale.

Emily Dickinson, once said, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” The shadow in this picture is truth told slant. So, what does that mean?

In browsing Google for other thoughts, I came across Camile T. Dungy’s story about a writing class where, after reading the Dickinson poem, a student showed her a new tattoo that read: “The truth must dazzle gradually.” When we see the “H,” it is truth told straight, head on. We know there’s a hotel here. But, if there is something to be revealed by the shadow H, it has to gradually reveal itself. Perhaps, it’s really nothing but a play of light … or is it something more? ... a unique view? ... an unguessed connection?

We can walk past the image, labeling it a shadow, dismissing it as a mere creation of the angle of light, or we can wonder at the fleeting perception, explore the connection to some meaning or riddle of the Universe that flashed this momentary signal into our consciousness. 

Oaxaca Bubble
Maybe these perceptions are as insubstantial as soap bubbles in the sun. However, what if they’re like a microdream that deserves to be listened to, understood. valued? The idea of microdreams sends me off to Google and, of course, there’s recent research on microdreams cited in an article from Psychology Today.

The article contends that dreams are constructions of memories, past and present. Capturing microdreams of one-second or less that occur as you are falling asleep, narrows the range of memory sources and simplifies the process of understanding the dream snippet.

But, what if our perceptions are dream cousins? When we open our eyes, a million images flood into our brain. Somehow, our attention picks and chooses what gets through the filter … we notice the car coming toward us but not the lawn of dandelions, the color of palm fronds against a blue sky but not the missing branch of the seventh frond up.

While walking down the colonial streets of central Oaxaca, I was struck by the image of the H and its shadow. With all the other perceptions flooding my brain, why did I choose to take a picture of that image? Is it a waking dream snippet that instantly connected to some memory source?

The name I grew up with but haven’t used for almost fifty years was Harris. Is this a picture of my life … the original path and the actual journey, still recognizable but obviously different? Who can truly say, but I plan to spend more time with those images that I don't know why I took them.
This would be my favorite photo of the week.


  1. Thanks Joyce. The artist coach Maisel, can't think of his first name, calls them snapshot moments when “you have been shocked awake, fascinated, alerted in a visionary way.” They live within us for a reason, like questions waiting to be answered, to be brought into physical form.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.