​Things that stand out—a baby’s cry, the red “post-it” arrow next to a legal document’s signature line, a robin in winter—stand out for a reason. They do this to get our attention.

The proverbial red flag is an integral part of my—or anybody’s—dream world. Though I don’t ever recall dreaming of an actual red flag, I have seen, in slumber, plenty of dream images that stand out against the relief of a place or situation where they don’t belong.

A dressage horse turned up in a recent dream. Dressage horses are large, mostly male horses, with beautiful, classic confirmation (bodies in the horse world). Was the dream-setting for this horse a stable? A field of lush green grass? A show ring? No. I encountered it at the Mall of America. The owner was a real-life mentor who I know for a fact would not be a horse owner. So it, too, was there to get my attention.

In my dream, MOA is home to a horse stable along with its shops, stages, and theme park(s). And, the horse, out-of-place at MOA and owned by my mentor (who would not own a horse), meant something. It was a red flag of sorts. 

Why did my dream insert a red flag? What did this shorthand attention-getter want me to see?

A horse, to me, has all kinds of associations. Atop a nice, tall dressage horse, I see things from a higher perspective. I admire its beauty. It represents the world of nature, and the animal world in particular.

It also represents something very dangerous. (And for good reason—a riding accident caused a head injury that affects me today.) Riding a horse challenges me to face my fears directly. The more I do that, the better I ride. When I am on a horse’s back, my mind might wander to the inherent dangers in riding. If that happens, I want to hunch my shoulders over and hang on tight. Turns out, that is pretty much the way not to decrease the likelihood of getting launched from a horse’s back, should he bolt or buck.

The way to stay on is this: plant sit bones directly on its back, relax every muscle, stretch the spine upwards and the legs down. Think: yoga posture astride a four-legged beauty.

In the dream I did something very uncharacteristic. I spontaneously jumped on the horse’s back (without a mounting block to help me get up there). I rode right into the mall. I relaxed all my muscles, stretched spine up and legs down, and breezily greeted the horse’s owner.

In real life, a mirror image of this dream has taken place. I haven’t been on a horse’s back in months. But I have been getting close to nature, facing my fears with perspective, and relaxing into the challenges of owning a farm and growing stuff when I know nothing about either.

So the dream’s construction, with the out-of-place red-flag horse, was giving me good feedback. “You did it,” it said. “Good work,” said the dream’s general tone. Then, the ominous, “However…” Uh-oh. Dreams can change on a dime, can’t they?

In the dream I now had to put the horse away, which is riding “shorthand” for getting the horse back into its stall, brushing him, feeding him, and putting his tack away. But at the Mall of America? I had no idea how to get to the horse barn.

The discomfort that ensued—needing to put him away but not having access to his home—was the real red flag. See, the horse represented, to me, overcoming life’s fears, getting closer to nature, and achieving a higher perspective. And the discomfort told me that these come with major challenges. Dream life, in my understanding, is a reflection of real life. In the dream, as in life, the horse that represented so many good things, suddenly became a burden. And in real life, at least as I see it, new-found courage, a sense of oneness with nature, and a deeper spiritual connection can be burdensome, too.  They can be isolating; and achievements can take you to an area of unknown. But is this true, or is it just a thought or belief that doesn’t serve me?

I tend to think that it’s an old belief that I need to get rid of. What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Metaphor

  1. My sense is that it’s an old belief, and the dream is suggesting that. Your interpretation of these dream symbols seem right on the mark. Great article ! Also, symbolically the Mall of America is a very public place, and a famous one at that. You made a grand fearless entrance ….

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