Indigo Flounder Dreams


Mr. Mahaffey, my high school psychology teacher, made us keep a dream journal. I always suspected it was his way of determining the craziest among us, of determining exactly which of us needed counseling, and how much of it. Motives aside, Mahaffey’s dream segment was the most enjoyable academic experience of my high school career. (If you’re reading, thanks for that, Mahaffey. And shalom.)

The rules of the dream journal were simple. We were to keep a wide-ruled notebook by our beds, and were to write down those dreams we remembered upon first waking. I did this for some time, even after the semester ran its course. I found the journal prompted me to explore thoughts and fears that I’d otherwise swept aside, and inspired a good bit of creativity.

I’m not sure when I gave up the practice, but recently I had a dream that I thought worth journaling. When I shared it with Amber, she said I should write it out here, mostly for entertainment value. So, here we are. Welcome to my dream world.


Last night I dreamed I was with you, fishing on the White River. We were on a rocky ledge, in the sunshine, and were surrounded by blinking and buzzing yellow buttercups. The setting sun was warm on our backs, and we were stiff with anticipation, believing that a run of whale-sized striped bass were coming our way.

I found a nightcrawler, an over-sized  slimy one with a black cyclopian orb at the tip of his head. He was pale. I stung his eye with my hook, curled his body around the shank and up to the hook-eye. I cast him headlong into the water and immediately felt the line tighten, saw the flash of fish scales against the sun.

Jumping from the side of the ledge, I ran past buttercups to the waters edge where my fish was gape-mouthed on the bank. He was flounder flat, indigo, with Victorian-ruffled fins hanging from the center of his body like frilly lace. His flesh was poison, tingling to the touch.

I unhooked him and tossed them into the water, into a particularly cool spot where the sun was not shining, and he morphed into a flat plate, a neon blue frisbee. Concerned that I’d de-oxygenated him to death, I dove headlong into icy water. I cradled his lifeless body, moved him to an underwater sunspot where the warmth of the water washed over us both. In the sun, he transformed for a moment back into the beautiful blue fish, but bolted in fear to another cold spot where he again turned into a frisbee. You called from the bank, said to come out so we wouldn’t be late for the wedding.

It was Matt’s wedding, and my grandmother was the wedding coordinator. The banquet hall was spread wide with a well-catered feast, and Silverchair was rocking the stage. I was asked to move a glass table that was perched on the balcony overlooking the dance floor, and I did. Accidentally dropping it from the ledge, I watched it shatter into thousand pieces amid the party-goers. My grandmother backed me into a corner, said that I had dropped the table to spite her, to ruin the perfectly planned wedding. I asked her why she’d say such a thing, and she said I was always spiteful, always refusing baptism into the church. I told her that I had been baptized–even though it was of the Southern Baptist variety–and tears welled in her eyes. She smiled. She hugged me. “Praise Jesus,” she said. “Baptist go to heaven, too.”

In the banquet hall, the dancers continued, crunching shards of glass into dust. I scanned the crowd for the bride and groom, but they were not there. Ron Young was, though, so I made my way through the crowd to hug him, asked him where he’d been all these years. His lips were sealed, but he smiled like a man who knew a good secret. Stepping aside, his son Jonathan appeared, he standing seven feet tall in a starched-stiff white suit. He was wearing a white shirt, too, the kind with the big open collar, the kind celebrities wear to event of the year.

I tackled him in my joy, felt his crisp suit and bones crunch under my weight. I picked him up, dusted him off, and told him I was sorry we hadn’t spoken in so long. He turned his head and laughed, exposing a goatee that had been shaved into the shape of a Nike swoosh. He pointed, said the facial hair was the byproduct of his newest endorsement deal.

“Where’s Matt?” I asked. Johnny smiled, said “couldn’t even make his way to his own wedding. He and his lady had a previous engagement in Little Rock. They’re attending his sister’s graduation.”

I chuckled and said, “of course.”

We exited the hall and he asked me whether I’d been fishing lately. “Yeah,” I told him before waking. “Caught a blue flounder a few minutes ago.”

“Blue flounder aren’t real,” he said.

“I know,” I responded. “But is any of this?”

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6 Responses to Indigo Flounder Dreams

  1. hisfirefly says:

    ♥ this! I had a few teachers of dreams as well.

  2. I’m sure Freud and Jung would have a heyday with this, but I’ll just interpret it as a creative romp! So cool that you dream in such detail. In color, too.

    • sethhaines says:

      I’ve always dreamed this way, at least… as long as I can remember. It is not uncommon for me to feel sensations in my dreams. I don’t know what that means. I should probably have a psychologist analyze me. 🙂

      In any event, It is fun to record these kinds of dreams. Sometimes, if I listen, I hear the whispers of some kind of truth in them.

  3. pastordt says:

    WONDERFUL dream, Seth. And I actually had a dream with you in it about two weeks ago. Weird, eh? My spiritual director worked exclusively with dreams. He was a wise old abbot and well-versed in dream analysis and I LOVED it. He died a year ago this week and I miss him still. I’ll just say a couple of things. Every person in a dream is some part of yourself about 85% of the time. So think about the various characters that way. What about you is like your fishing companion, your grandmother, your friends? What do weddings mean to you? What was the feeling tone of the dream? What was happening in your walking-around world during this time? How might those things interact with this dream? I deeply believe that God is at work in our sub-conscious minds and that the language of symbols and archetypes is a good one to work with and understand. Thanks for this – it was delightful to read.

    • sethhaines says:


      I hope it was a good dream? Sometimes dreamers tell me that I appeared in their dream, and upon further questioning, I discover that I was bizarre, or awkward, or turned into a cat, or something.

      I’ll play along with you, though, and let’s see what we can figure out.

      I’m not sure who the companion was in the dream. I’d like to think it was Amber, but I’m not sure. I know the person was essentially just watching the whole thing unfold. I’m not sure there’s enough detail there.

      As far as my grandmother, I tend to write people off until they explain their actions/motives to me. Then I tend to be rather accommodating (maybe too much so, but maybe not). As for J? I really just want a goatee shaped like a Nike swoosh. He’s a good fella. A dreamer. A bit of a wanderer who clings tight to scripture. You’d like this cat.

      Weddings? I’m not really sure what they mean to me. Honestly, I view weddings as a formality of sorts. Since only 50% of marriages work out, I typically go into a wedding with a sense of awe, but also with a “wait and see” kind of attitude.

      While I was walking around, folks were just eating and dancing. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. There were no worries or cres. It lent to the overall good vibe of the dream. I was sad for the flounder, but I’m not sure what to make of that.

      Thoughts? (Not to, like… put you on the spot or anything.)

      • Mine was an interesting dream, Seth. And to wrassle with it, I wrote out an imaginary dialog with you the next day. That helped, actually. Your dream . . . I am not a font of wisdom in this world, but overall, it feels celebratory to me. Rivers are often pictures of your life at the moment and it feels as though your life at the time of the dream was movin’ right along and that you were in good company. It’s also full of unexpected happenings, most of which don’t seem to phase you too much – the broken table, the unexpected guests, the no-show bridegroom. The indigo flounder? Maybe a creative spark that’s just below the surface of the mind, something you’re chasing and not quite reaching, or something that morphs when you do reach it? Here are some steps to take in trying to work through your own dreams (although talking with someone else, especially someone who knows something about archetypes, etc., is really helpful) 1.) record it – which you do; 2.) write down any associations that come to mind with people or events in the dream – and I do mean ANY association; 3.) Do something with it – like a dialog with a character or an object in the dream (some people recommend doing this using your non-dominant hand for the dialog object/person – I can barely write with my dominant hand, so that one is out for me), or make a line drawing or create a picture in your mind. Ask open-ended questions – who/what/where/how/when – NOT ‘why?’ as you do this. 4.) listen to the dream like it’s a play – search for a theme or a title for it (which you did in this piece, I think); 5.) try to discern the message of the dream – they do have a purpose beyond indigestion! – is there something your unconscious self wants you to do or be aware of? Often you’ll feel a sort of ‘click’ in your spirit if you find an answer to this; 6.) respond – what can I do from/with what the dream is teaching me. Dreams often outline a next step in our own spiritual development. 7.) FIND a spiritual director/skilled listener to talk with about your dreams. (These helpful hints courtesy of Dr. Marie J. DiSciullo-Naples, my most recent teacher on the topic.)

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