Q : Quo Vadis? on the Dream


 ‘Quo Vadis’? Latin: “Where are you going?”

The words asked by Peter when he met Christ upon the Appian Way. ‘Domine, Quo Vadis’? Lord, whither goest Thou?  

I do not know where my dream is going when I am dreaming. I do not know my destination in the dream. I wake at a particular juncture when it is important that I remember this dream, to write it down, so that I can look at it in the cold light of day. For me it brings up the old age question, Why? Why this dream now?

I remember a dream from years and years back. I was standing on the tennis court at our home, not dressed in tennis gear, no-one else about. Out of nowhere a huge library of books came tumbling down onto me and knocked me down to the ground. I can’t remember how long it took for me to decipher that dream, maybe not long at all, because in it’s way it was fairly clear. Although I resisted its message, I took away from it that it was time for me to get out of my head, stop living in it, stop being so one-sided, so intellectual, so up in the air, devouring books books books, to the exclusion of all else. Start living, start feeling, this last a much neglected side of me. Not necessarily to quench my thirst for learning but not to the extent of quarantining myself from my feeling function. I’m still learning how to do this –

When I ponder on a significant dream I ask the same sort of question, ‘whither goest thou’ of myself – it’s an ongoing quest.

Rilke: Live the Questions

Emily Bronte: ‘I have dreamt in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind’.

Talmud: An unexamined dream is like an unopened letter.


63 Comments on Quo Vadis? on the Dream

  1. Many of my dreams are journey dreams, dreams where I am going somewhere. Usually I become lost or sidetracked from the destination and never arrive. The dreams become “yellow brick road” adventures where I meet strange characters and become involved in strange situations while never quite reaching Oz though that destination always is somewhere in the back of my mind. It just loses the importance that it had at the outset of the dream.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View

    • Thanks Arlee for commenting and using that lovely analogy of the yellow brick road. I do a lot of wandering in my dreams too and come across what I take to be an image or symbol – eg a bridge, water, passenger in car, driving myself – and it’s those sorts of images I wonder about ..

  2. Wonderful ode to living the questions, Susan. I love your quotes, too. found this on Brainy Quotes: “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~Carl Jung

    • Thank you Elaine. Ode – what a lovely word! I know that quote of Jung’s : “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” I think I may have used it, if not this time around of A-Z then somewhere. It seems like a paradox –

    • So much that I neglect Sharon while in the head, my preferred modus operandi. I’m losing my social skills rapidly. Ah well …
      Thank you for coming by!

  3. That is one vivid and wake up dream. I’m not sure what my dreams tell me. i wonder where my dreams are going. I like that quote from the Talmud.

  4. Susan, what a great way to look at your dream — live life a little more. I would have imagined books mad at me but would’ve been left wondering why, still. Your interpretation is very interesting, leaves me re-evaluating some dreams. Thank you.

  5. Where are you going? Such a perfect perfect query and one that approaches the dream with the requisite curiosity and respect i always think is necessary.

  6. Quest and “Quo Vadis” – they fit together perfectly. Your interpretation of the dream is fascinating; however, if I had that dream I may interpret it differently: Scoop up as many books as you can, and go into a cave and read, read, read. Reading, for me now is both escape and nourishment, a complement to my memoir writing and the niggling demands of day-to-day housekeeping. I guess we will find out soon what “R” will be! Not far to go now . . . .

    • Again, I am amazed by your post. I’ve been given the memory of a couple of past dreams that I was immediately able to translate into a purpose or meaning. When I can’t think of the meaning, I have been letting it go. Perhaps I need to be less lazy!! I do believe there is a meaning to our dreams. Thanks again.

      • Thanks for coming by Marsha. Good to let it go, for the meanwhile. I sometimes remember a dream I’ve forgotten to note and am so pleased when it pops back into my head.

    • Thanks Marian, I LOVE reading! Unfortunately these books knocked me down – on my head I think – so I can’t interpret as going into a cave and reading!

    • Thanks Marian, I LOVE reading. Unfortunately these books knocked me down, on my head I think, so I can’t really interpret it as indication to go into a cave to read!

  7. I live in my head, too, Susan. Thankfully, I am aware of that and often have to push myself to get out. Once I do get out — out in nature, out among people, I am delighted at the fun I have and all I learn and share.

    I am always asking myself where have I been and where am I going and try to stay focused on paths of truth, the path that is me, and what will benefit me in the long run. Since I am curious about everything, questioning is an exercise I must pursue because I am so easily led off the path; that is, into some new and intriguing arena. Possibly why my dreams don’t have endings. The new arenas, spontaneously tread into can be beneficial, too, though.

    Hence, as you say, always the open mind and the balance.

  8. I love the quote from Emily Bronte. I am a Bronte fan and have all of her books. So well pointed out, Susan, to ask where am I going? Often times the dream moves us into the reality of where we would like to be and don’t know how to get there.

  9. Intriguing query, that…

    I’m going to remember this, because I am a dreamer of vivid dreams, and I welcome them. They often feed my fiction and my self-awareness…

    Quo vadis, indeed? Where am I going? Might be a good thing to ask before I meditate or set out on a physical journey, as well.

    Thank you for this. I feel something shifting, reading it.

    • Thank you Shan. They can and have indeed been a source of inspiration to artists of different persuasions .. And certainly a way of becoming more self-aware.

  10. A wonderful post, Susan. It is SO true the messages that dreams deliver to us. Sometimes we see the message immediately and other times it takes some effort to figure the dreams out. Usually, my dreams tell me that I’m afraid of being me. Now that I’m coming out of my ‘shell’ I no longer have those dreams. Some dreams tell me that I need to take a deeper look at myself. Yes, the messages are interesting. It IS fun learning about ourselves! We too are open books Susan. We are worth reading.

    • Lovely comment Gwynn thank you. Sometimes we are closed books even to ourselves, but such a treat to open the page and immerse ourselves in our own story, our own myth ..

  11. I feel like this is a poignant question to ask through the course of one’s life, both within dreams and without. It’s a question that is almost too frightening to ask (at least it has been for me), and was one that took me many years before I did ask it. And now, coming here and reading all your wonderful posts, it only feels like the beginning. Thanks for the guidance, Susan. 🙂

    • Thank you Sara and I agree it is a frightening question to ask – where are we going. My younger son who is a musician has a song titled ‘where are we going’ and also asks where are we coming from..

      Always a beginning .. as is an ending … beginning anew and again. Like the sun rising and setting.

  12. In a sense, I echo a previous comment, why should we want to…fully answer the questions.

    ” ‘ Whither goest thou’ of myself” brings to mind an essay I wrote years ago.

    The “choices along the railway track” can be excellent, I propose. Often, persons blessed by Destiny will discover that any of the paths taken will be worthy.

    • Thank you Joseph; Philippa’s dream highlights the message of the unconscious guiding her in her particular style in writing and using her left brain … her book is a wonder. Choices along the railway track – which invariably is built by another. How one walks it is another question.

      Destiny and Fate – two words meaning different things, influenced by how one walks the path.

  13. This series is so full, inspirational and inspired. I love your interpretation of the dream you shared and the Rilke quote makes so much sense. Lovely, lovely, lovely, all.

  14. Susan;
    Such a phantasy that we can ever fully answer the questions in our dreams. Why should we want to, anyhow? They make us examine and that is perhaps enough…

  15. I love how our posts interconnect in some ways… Questions here, too!
    So I finally remembered my dream from last night… and I am questioning how to connect it to today’s post… hmmm..although in my dream, it was someone else’s faux pas about emailing the wrong person, perhaps it’s a hint for me to be extra careful of whom I am sending what!


    • They do Beth! The other in your dream you can usually take to be an aspect of yourself. How this relates to you, only you would know. I note faux pas in dreams!

  16. Brilliant Post ! and a challenging question. I also know of another saying similar ” an unexamined life is not worth living” I am also enjoying reading the comments from your post, thanks for sharing

    • Thank you Genevive.. there are some wonderful comments up above and in all posts. So good to know that you read them too! Socrates made that statement: An unexamined life is not worth living.

  17. A very interesting dream Susan on the issue of balance. Before I wrote Involution-Odyssey I had a similar one. I was walking along a railway track which branched into two to enter two tunnels. One shiny well used to the left, one rusty and overgrown with grass into the tunnel on the right. I followed the shiny into the tunnel where a mechanic was assembling a beautiful old locomotive seated on a platform surrounded by shiny brass cogs. He showed extreme irritation that I would send dust onto his brass cogs, so I went the other way. The rusty rails were backlit with bright sunlight, and the going effortless. I realised then that I had been so left brained for so long, and poetry and music would remedy. The locomotive needed to be replaced with right brained song. Hence the decision to write it differently! It was a wonderful guiding instruction.

    • That is so wonderful Philippa thank you. A wonderful example of a dream using metaphorical language of tunnels and tracks inter alia! A song indeed!

  18. SUSAN, “YOU ARE A WINNER ” You get “served” and “you whack it back!” I found your A to my Q another step I want to take with me on my Journey along the Path.

  19. Where are you going? Questions are how we invite the dream (and the dreamer) to make sense of itself. I was in Jamaica many years ago at a conference of psychotherapists, psychiatrists, social workers etc… I got quite ill – with a high fever. I dreamed I was walking up these steps and I realized the steps were made of cat carcasses – fur and bone and gristle. Horrid. One of my peers was there telling me to just ignore it and hurry up. When I questioned that dream later (and I’ve gone to it often) I realized it was about something she had exposed to me about how she didn’t consider the culture we were in to be worthy of attention. I was not prepared to ‘rise up’ on the bones of the oppressed. Where was I going? To my presence.

    • This is lovely Jan thank you so much. I hope others read it too, I think they sometimes do (read others’ comments). Your dream brings up both collective consciousness and the collective unconscious in which we all dwell.

      And the reminder, thank you, that we go to our presence. Powerfully put.

  20. Susan, would a dream as you described relate to Jung’s Archetypal Symbol of Opposites, and would a thinking function (books) and a feeling function need to play against one another to arrive at a naturally required restoration of balance? Play like a game of tennis, striving to even out the score? A homeostasis?

    • Joseph, a huge question you ask which I’ll only part answer, and very briefly. The thinking and feeling function may appear to be opposite and exclusive to each other but in fact are not, as each embodies the other. Interestingly, each also has an ‘evaluating’ function.

      Do they play against each other? Or with each other? Or sometimes against and sometimes with .. In my instance, I was reminded that my thinking function was overly one-sided to the detriment of my feeling function.

      That is interesting and insightful what you say about tennis thank you, striving to even out the score. A singles match, against one another … and it’s possible application to my dream. Thank you.

  21. Hi Susan – what a great analogy .. apart from completely fulfilling the Q requirement. Yes that makes sense the Quo Vadis … and your dream is a wonderful description .. cheers Hilary

  22. A great UNIVERSAL QUESTION about the balance required among our choices!

    I expect today’s QUESTIONING and ANSWERING will show the Clearly Harmonious Relationships between the Comments and your Replies.

    At times, I might get to sense the Energy of Dissonance or Pianissimo as well.

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