When we work with a dream our ego is the part of us doing the work. Our ego thinks it knows everything about us, but it doesn’t. It thinks it is the boss of the entire psyche, but it isn’t. It’s merely the boss of our conscious personality.
An ego is like a well-intentioned gardener who owns a plot of land. She is the boss of that land and gets to decide how to use it. She considers the climate, her personal preferences, the amount of energy she’s willing to put into her project, the amount of land she wants to work on, what she wants to grow, and so on. She makes a plan, prepares the soil, buys and plants the seeds, fertilizes, waters, weeds, researches the best environmentally friendly options for pest control, and does whatever else she can to grow healthy plants that will enhance her property and life and maybe even make a useful contribution to her community. Some of these decisions may end up being mistakes. Others may be wise. Either way, she does her best, based on her experience, knowledge, needs, and preferences.
Meanwhile, there are forces at work over which our gardener has little or no control. Some are social, economic, and political, like fluctuations in buyer preferences, the cost of living, minimum wage, supply and demand, the willingness of banks to make loans, governmental policies, and so on. These are harder to be aware of and work with, but if a farmer will stay in touch and change with the times, the farm can continue to thrive.
The most ungovernable force of all is Nature. Sometimes our land is extremely difficult to work with. Maybe it’s on a steep slope, is full of rocks, lacks a source of water, or has uneven terrain or infertile soil. Then, of course, there’s the weather. Sometimes it rains too much. Sometimes it doesn’t rain enough. Some crops are destroyed by blights and bugs. Some freeze; some can’t take the heat. Then there’s hail, fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes….well, you get the picture.
Now here’s the thing. Dreams, emotions, and our physical and psychological inheritance (the land we have to work with), are Nature. Like hurricanes, insects, dirt, and crocodiles, they simply are what they are. Gardeners do not create the land or weather, and our egos do not create our bodies, psyches, emotions or dreams.
The best a farmer can do is become intentional about his/her life’s work and conduct the necessary research to know the land, understand the needs of specific crops, make backup plans, watch the weather reports, and respond appropriately. Likewise, the best an ego can do is gather information about dreams and psyched, try to remain aware of what’s going on within and without, and make wise choices.
Our dreams, emotions, and bodies map the lay of the land of our souls and provide an ongoing commentary about the unconscious forces acting upon us. Choosing to be intentional about tapping into this deep wisdom marks a major transition in the life of every individual.
Why would an ego want to go to all this trouble? For the same reason a farmer wants to know the land and watches the weather report! Because in the business of living, this is our ego’s job and the most healthy and satisfying way to thrive.