By Lavinia Plonka
“We are spirits in the material world.” From Ghost in the Machine by The Police
According to Clarissa Pinkola Estes, our dreams connect us with our deeper selves. And when we dream about phones, we are trying to make a connection. Maybe it’s a connection with some part of myself, maybe it’s trying to connect me to waking life. In the movie, The Matrix, the characters used telephones to move from the virtual reality “dream” they were living into the real, ugly world.
I often dream I’m trying to make a call. Except the numbers on the pad have disappeared and I have to try to remember where they would be. Or the receiver melts (how Jungian is that?) or the entire phone falls apart in my hands.
Sometimes it keeps trying to dial the wrong number. Never once in all my years of dreaming has my phone come to my rescue, solved a problem or even worked properly. Now that I have a smart phone, I’ve even had dreams where my phone talks back to me, argues with me and writes inappropriate text messages. Interestingly, for the last couple of weeks, a woman keeps calling my number and when I answer she goes, “I can’t believe it! It happened again! Wrong number!” I wonder if she’s dreaming our encounter in another dimension.
I always figured these metaphors of my own lack of connection to parts of myself, how I’m scattered, or can’t make myself clear are lessons to take into daily life. But if my waking life is, according to several spiritual traditions, a “waking dream,” then what is my real relationship to my cellphone? Is modern communication technology a blessing or a curse?
This year, I switched (after much resistance) from writing my appointments in a lovely, big red book to the calendar on my iPhone. I had to go to California for a conference last month. Thanks to modern technology, someone called from Asheville to make an appointment. Feeling blessed to have my calendar at my fingertips, I opened it up. Something was wrong. All my appointments were at the wrong time. Had something happened in the air? Had my iPhone gone insane? Was I in another dream? It took a couple of hours (because I’m slow) to understand that my iPhone had decided I had moved to California and that therefore all my appointments were now three hours earlier. And of course, when I turned off its brilliant recalibration, I was no longer able to use my phone for the actual time. But then again, I WAS in California so who cares what time it is?
When I finally broke down and upgraded to a texting plan because people kept texting me in spite of my resistance, I began the struggle with something called autocorrect. I’d start to write something, and my phone seemed to have a better idea of what I had in mind, as if it wanted to be my editor, or perhaps my teacher. After I sent a few texts where I didn’t realize that it kept correcting my husband Ron’s name to Tony, some friends nervously asked me if I was having an affair. There’s a website called Damn You Autocorrect that posts the best/worst autocorrects online.
You can see why it can be difficult to continue one’s relationship with the phone. It seems to have a mind of its own.
But perhaps this opens up other possibilities, where it can serve as a communication support beyond anything one could even dream of. What if the phone could become a channel from the beyond? My dear old friend Jerry died a few months ago of cancer. Jerry was a generous, loving trickster with one of the most infectious laughs on the planet. Katie, his wife of over thirty years was absolutely bereft at the loss. She couldn’t believe he died before her, that he was gone. Katie’s sister, Lisa, a physician, was with them until the end. On April 9, the day of Jerry’s passing, Lisa entered into her iPhone calendar, “Jerry died.” A day later, she looked at her calendar, and April 9 was blank. Thinking she might have entered it into one of her other calendars by accident, Lisa checked her business calendar, her church calendar, her travel calendar. Nothing. Thinking perhaps she had made a mistake, she re-entered it. Next day, it was gone.
The following day Lisa was at Katie’s with some friends, and mentioned the odd event. She opened her calendar. April 9 was blank. “I swear I put it in there!” she exclaimed. In the presence of Katie and her friends, Lisa re-entered the same sentence, “Jerry died.” And the group watched in amazement as the letters disappeared from her phone. Someone suggested trying to enter future events. She went to May, entered a hairdresser’s appointment. No problem. Someone else suggested that maybe it was no longer working because she was trying to enter a past event. So they went back to March and entered a random event. It did not disappear. Lisa went back to April 9 and re-typed the words. Once again, they faded off of her calendar page. Katie grabbed the phone and wrote, “Jerry, are you OK?” The words flew right off the calendar in front of all four witnesses.
Katie feels that it was Jerry, using the iPhone as a way to tell her that he’s OK, and still around, that she can communicate with him anytime. What a consolation during a time of grief. If only it were true that we could simply text our loved ones after they pass, or wait for them to send a quick note. Science would probably say it was a group hallucination. Or perhaps this too is part of a dream.
My sister Liz recently dreamt that she was sitting with our mother trying to get on the Internet. They needed a passcode, but my mother wouldn’t share it. Liz had to call a certain number to retrieve the code. My mother, very pleased with herself told her the code after Liz had already retrieved it by phone. Liz said, “But Mom, you’re dead.” My mother said, “I know honey, that’s just fine,” and proceeded to log onto the Internet. My sister woke up crying, convinced it was a spiritual email from Mom.
I looked up whether anyone else had yet received text messages from ghosts, (you can find ANYTHING on Google.) Paul Roberts, a self proclaimed “ghost hunter” reported on a ghost texting incident in California (ah California again!). In an article in the Sacramento Press. He wrote, “I believe our 3D human experience is shifting into a thinning of the veils on other dimensions, and with many variations of energetic beings; seen, heard and or projected through technology …”
Blessing or curse? Looking for connection or creating a new connection? Dream or reality? Alternate dimensions? Rod Serling would be pleased.
When not learning to text, Lavinia communicates with real people, helping their lives in the here and now. She teaches The Feldenkrais Method and The Creative Body both privately and in groups. You can read more of her writing at CosmiComedy.com.