Water in dreams is a symbol for emotions. Being submerged underwater, accordingly, is a dream metaphor for being “immersed in one’s emotions.” Given the background that you provide, we can safely attribute your recent stress about your grandchild as the cause of this deep, emotional dream. Although you recognize the situation as unusual (being underwater), you write that you were comfortable with the flow of the dream. The meaning of this comfort is that, despite the fact that you are traversing a difficult emotional path in your waking life, inside you feel grounded, and confident in your direction.
Ships in dreams, like other large vehicles (trains and planes), function as metaphors for attempts to reach significant destinations on our lives. Because of their strong association with water, however, ships are used by dreams to highlight journeys that are especially emotional. The journey that you recently have embarked upon is your effort to help your grandson. As you stand on this ship, however, an authority detains you for being a stowaway. The meaning of being arrested for being a stowaway is that you occasionally worry that you do not “have permission” to be on this ship. In other words, you occasionally fear that may be overstepping your “boundaries” (trespassing), by becoming involved in your grandson’s welfare.
A Scottish boilerman informs you that if you wish to remain on the ship, the journey will require hard work. It is understood that your hard work will be emotionally rewarding, and will “make a man of you.” The metaphor expressed by the dream is that the journey you have chosen (care for your grandchild) will require sustained effort for you to complete. You will have to keep the engine of the ship, its heart and soul, fired to continue moving forward. Because the fire is in the boiler-room, it also represents the “volatile” and “explosive” nature of the situation which you are tending. Feelings of urgency also likely are present. You need to keep your eye on the flame.
Suddenly you are outside the ship at the mouth of a cave. Caves in dreams are metaphors for the unknown, because they are dark and mysterious places, and because we do not know, when we crawl into one, what we will discover. Before you enter this symbol of the unknown, you notice a flag buried above it. When the flag is unfurled, you see that it is the flag of Texas (the state in which you live), and very significantly, the state whose court system also will soon determine the conservatorship of your grandson. You hold the flag up high, and suddenly no longer are underwater. You are on the side of a steep hill, and can see the ground and a valley below you.
Elevation in dreams is a metaphor that is used to represent perspective—the ability to see clearly from a great distance—and the ability to see the future. (Unlike a cave, you can “see far ahead.”) From this vantage point, you notice that the water has receded, and that there is clear blue sky above you. What is the meaning of this abrupt dream transition? At the end of this emotional journey (when the water has receded), you are confident that you will emerge victorious in your quest to help your grandchild, and to obtain conservatorship of him. The flag represents the court’s decision in your favor; a vindication of your cause and journey.
In any time or culture, your dream is what is known as a “big” dream: a dream that is exceptionally vivid and powerful, that sears into the memory of the dreamer, and that begs for its meaning to be understood. In your waking life you have undertaken an emotional journey to help your grandson, and have decided to do so despite concerns that you may be overstepping your boundaries as a grandparent. The Scottish boilerman, who is a spiritual and moral authority figure in this dream, acknowledges your presence on the ship, but wants you to also know that the journey requires strength and commitment. Though the path you have chosen holds its share of darkness and uncertainty (the cave you are entering), you are confidant that the state of Texas court system will allow you to keep your grandson with you, in Texas, with your wife.
You will never forget this dream, and often will ponder the inescapable feeling with which it left you—that for some reason, a gift of knowledge and foresight mysteriously was bestowed upon you. You will hearken back to this big dream many times in the months and years ahead, for strength, support and guidance, as you pursue your goal of providing care for your grandchild. The journey will be long, but the dream makes clear that a rich moral and spiritual reward awaits you.
Dear Dream Doctor—
I have read and re-read your interpretation over and over. I was emotionally overcome by your words and nearly started to cry each time I read.
As you stated, this was an extremely important milestone. In my entire life, I do not ever recall being so affected by a dream or so compelled to seek out its meaning. I want so much to believe that what I saw was indeed a foretelling of future events. I also had to look further inward and ask myself if you were saying only what I wanted to hear. I believe you to be an honest man and would not pay lip service to people who seek out your expertise for very personal reasons.
This dream and your interpretation of it will stay in the forefront of my thoughts for days to come. As the day approaches when a final determination is to be reached, I will take comfort in knowing that what I am doing is just and righteous, and that the only person I am concerned with is my grandson—who is unable to defend himself, and needs me more than ever.
We eagerly await learning the court’s decision. Please write back and tell us the conclusion.
Dear Dream Doctor—
I am writing back to let you know the results of our day in court.
As you will recall, a significant symbol in my dream was a Texas flag. When my dream ended with me on the side of a hill after the waters had receded, I was left with a view for as far as I could see. You said that this represented clarity, and possibly a look into the future. In your interpretation, you stated that the Texas flag possibly represented the court’s decision in our favor—and that my cause would be vindicated.
Well, it’s probably a far stretch, but before entering the courthouse, we walked across welcome mats made in the image of a Texas Flag. The courtroom was on the fourth floor and the interior was dimly lit with theater style seating. We had no idea what to expect from the defendants or their lawyer. Of course, there was a Texas flag to the judge’s left as well as an American flag to her right. The actual flags I saw may mean nothing, as they are everywhere.
To cut to the chase, the court did rule in our favor, or more to the point, our grandchild’s favor. When the defendant’s lawyer stated that the hearing would be contested, a 20-minute recess was declared and just outside the courtroom in the hallway, our lawyer presented him with certain bits of evidence, whereupon he immediately sought to “cut a deal”. Up until that point, I was a nervous wreck, but I kept thinking of my dream and praying that it would come true.
From the outcome, I would have to say that it did. The events unfolded so rapidly that it all seemed too easy, even unreal. Both lawyers came to an agreement in the judge’s chambers out of sight from all concerned. To consummate the proceedings, we had to stand before the bar and declare that we agreed with the terms of the settlement. Once that was done, it was over. Nothing short of amazing.
I have no reason to believe that this kind of dream will ever happen again and possibly, this was my subconscious engaging in wishful thinking. It is my feeling that this may be my once in a lifetime experience. As you stated, this was my “Big Dream” and one that I will never forget. Thanks again for your help and insight.