I am remembering a friend who was habitually at work, devoting long hours to the demands of his business. One would say that he was a workaholic, prone to neglect the emotional needs of his wife and children. He seemed content to boast of the great success he was having financially, and so the complaints of his family members often fell on deaf ears.
He then told me of a brief dream which confused and puzzled him. His dream is as follows:
I’m standing inside a busy factory. I can hear Native American
Indians weeping. I look around for them but I don’t see them.”
My friend said the factory in the dream reminded him of his father who worked long and hard hours in a foundry. He remembers that his father emphasized hard work as the role of a good provider for his family. Of the Indians in the dream who are weeping, my friend said that this reminded him of the tragedy of Native American Indians whose natural way of life was taken from them by the advancing settlers. I asked my friend when he had his dream. He noted that this dream came two days after he decided to expand his business and his wife complained that she felt that they had grown even further apart as partners. He dismissed her assertion and reassured her that his financial success would provide for them a better life. As we discussed the weeping of the Indians, I asked my friend what he felt had been lost in his own life. Our mutual reflection upon the feeling of grief of the Indians illuminated the loss of his own marriage and family ties. While this man’s devotion to his work indeed provided materially for his family, it came at the neglect of his mental and emotional availability to his family. We see in the dream compensating images which point towards and correct a conscious orientation which is out of balance with total requirements of the self.