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Education Matters:

What dreams of flying may mean

May 13, 2010|By Dan Kimber

More than all the dreams that I recall from my childhood, my very favorites were the ones that allowed me to fly. How well I remember soaring over mountain tops and city lights and how exhilarating it was to suspend all rules of gravity and rise above this earth on my own power.

As I grew older, the number of those dreams gradually diminished, and finally, at my present advanced age, they have disappeared altogether.

A number of years ago, I described the dream to my psychologist friend and how, often at the end of it, my ability to fly gradually wanes and in the end I am reduced to jumping up and down, trying in vain to lift off.


I wasn’t looking to be psychoanalyzed, but he asked me nevertheless, “Care for an interpretation?”

I said yes in the same spirit that I would agree to someone reading my palm to tell my future.

“The flying symbolizes liberation from something that’s been troubling you. The things that hold you down have been released and your subconscious has set you free in the same sense of freedom that we see in the birds that soar in the sky.

“Your loss of power symbolizes your feeling of powerlessness or inability to control something in your life.”

I asked, trying to pay due deference to his profession but believing he had just delivered a full load of psycho babble, “Isn’t it also possible that as I approach a more wakeful state, my conscious mind is re-assuming control and my more earthbound self is taking over?”

“No, not a chance,” he said condescendingly.

“OK, how about this interpretation: As a child, my hero was Superman. I used to run around the house with a red towel tucked into the back of my shirt pretending to fly. Is it not possible that our most engaging fantasies enter into our dreams where all things are possible?”

He rolled his eyeballs dismissively and offered one more “professional” explanation/possibility.

“Freud wrote that flying dreams represent sexual release,” he said.

Now it was my turn to roll the eyeballs.

“Give me a break,” I said. “Freud could find sexual symbolism in a lug wrench.”

Are you seriously telling me (or is Freud saying) that a 7-year-old who dreams of flying is working out some hidden desires or repressed urges? I was about that age when I first dreamed of flying and I must confess some difficulty relating those innocent years with anything “hidden or repressed.”

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