The Four Leaf Clover

Being a dream worker, I’ve always proposed you should take your dreams more seriously and view your life more symbolically. When I find myself in a situation that is oddly uncomfortable, I examine the circumstances as if I were interpreting a dream. I ask myself, “What scenes, characters, and objects could be symbols representing a current dilemma in my life? What insight could be had if I applied all the methods of dream interpretation to uncover the meaning of the “waking” dream?” Once done, I contextualize the message and devise a plan to solve the problem. Yesterday I found an opportunity to do just that.

Recently I’ve been ruminating over white clover which has invaded my back yard. I used to love clover as a child. I’d pick the white flowers and tie their long stems together to make necklaces.  My friends and I spent hours hunting for four-leaf clovers because they are good luck. I never considered clover a weed because all the neighborhood yards were full of it.

A few years ago, the same type of clover sprouted in my back yard. It started as a small patch at the edge of my mulched garden. I pulled each individual plant when I found it. Every week there would be more clover to pluck from my perfectly manicured lawn. I no longer considered linking the slender stems to make a necklace. I only appreciated the flowers because they marked the next plant to be yanked from the ground. How dare they colonize, filling more and more of my pristine turf.

I battled the same problem last year. The menace spread wider and wider over the summer. I researched how to get rid of the weed. Common herbicides kill grass, and I didn’t want swaths of dead lawn. I suggested to my husband that we cut out the affected areas and put in sod.

He wanted to know why the clover bothered me so much. I pointed out we had taken great care to create a backyard paradise we could enjoy. He said he hardly noticed the clover since it blended in so well with the grass. Besides, it produced a hardier lawn, adding needed nitrate into the soil.

I didn’t care anything about the benefits of the weed; I just wanted my lawn to appear uniform and match the rest of the lawns in the neighborhood.

I began to work with this ongoing dilemma as though I had experienced it in a dream.

I considered my need for perfection. Could this be the message of the dream? Dreams hold multiple messages, so perfectionism might be one. I looked for situations in my life where perfectionism was a current problem. None immediately sprang to mind.

One principle of dream work is that the first, most obvious interpretation usually isn’t the intended message. Another principle is that dreams don’t come to tell us what we already know. A dream’s purpose is to reveal new information and offer insight to the dreamer.

I looked at another theme of my “dream”—my need for conformity. What was I currently experiencing that would seem better if there was uniformity?

Then I thought of an adult family member who is in therapy to learn coping skills. Her brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s. It never will. She was born with a brain that doesn’t process information the way most people do. She suffers from extreme anxiety in situations other people might find challenging but not necessarily stressful.

I’ve often wished she was like everyone else. If she were, little annoyances wouldn’t result in huge drama. Common disappointments wouldn’t be earth-shattering. She might be able to make long-lasting, beneficial relationships. Wouldn’t her life be simpler if she just fit in?

Then I thought of her generous heart and loving nature. I know of no one else who gladly helps strangers like she does. She drives around in snow storms searching for people whose cars are stuck in drifts so she can dig them out. She grocery shops for her elderly neighbors. She forfeits her day off to take a friend to a doctor’s appointment. Yes, sometimes she sticks out in a crowd and people don’t understand her. But more often, she gets noticed for her kindness and compassion.

She is our four-leaf clover. ❤️