The Secret Courtyard of Ambitions (Dream)

May 26, 2018

Today’s post recounts a section of my most recent dream and some lessons I took away from it. It became a form of focused meditation for the day.

The main memorable part of my dream (there was others, but they aren’t as clear now) was the end, right before I woke up. It aws turning night time and I think this was a “Burning Man-esque” type of dream. Either preparing for that or another event/trip. The gist from my knowledge: we were to stay at this big house for the night before embarking on the next part of the journey – or the house was the last part of the trip before going home.

In my dream I knew that there was a “secret group” or “secret place” to go just outside of the big house. In order to get to it, it was something like I had to go to the 1st or 2nd story balcony and try to climb up into tall shrubberies … climb around a ledge … go around a corner with more shrubs … and then I would find a “secret porch/patio” of people camping outdoors – and that these people were going to go on the next part of the journey earlier than the others – or they were going to go somewhere new, grand, and adventurous on their own that wasn’t on the agenda.

It finally finished turning night and people were starting to turn in for the night in the house – some stayed up and talked or played games. Eventually I grabbed my small backpack and made my way to the balcony where the shrubs would be.

(Slight amendment: at first I had to go out in the snow (I think) and pass over and around a train to get to the shrubs with a long pathway and tall trees before the “scene” shrunk to just the courtyard shrubs at the house.)

I make it to the first shrubs and start to climb through. I have a little friendly scuffle with a couple there as I was trying to get through. I thought they were going to the same way – but learned that they weren’t, when I finally asked. (Randomly another guy kissed that guy’s (of the couple I was talking to) cheek and the couple-guy said thank you (in a surprised tone), but that he wasn’t interested in that way. I think this was denoting a part of the Burning Man-esque vibe of openness and acceptance.)

Eventually I got out of that little tumble and moved on through the shrubs. Stumbled onto and eventually passed my parents. I kept passing people, asking if they were going to “the place.” As more and more people sad no – I stopped asking and it got easier and easier to just stand straight and carefully walk over them all to get where I was trying to get.

Finally, I got to the place I was looking for: it looked like a courtyard/porch/patio outside of the house. And a number of tents were setup. I was about to approach them when I remembered I had to go back for something (that I forgot?) … So I walked to a different part of the courtyard/porch/patio and it was a different entrance to the same house – the lower entrance with a set of stairs that went up to the 2nd story where most of the others were (still awake).

For this whole thing, I felt like I had to do it secretly without anybody inside noticing, catching me, and confronting me. (The whole time dogs were periodically barking and security sensor lights turned on when they sensed movement.)

I went back, got what I needed, quietly rushed downstairs and used the bathroom. I think (although I wasn’t certain) that someone came down to see who was sneaking out – I fiddled with the lock for a moment, as if to shake them off that all I was doing was trying to get the lock to work.

Finally (again) I made it back in the courtyard —

— and the alarm went off.


To me this dream signals my pursuit of Burning Man, a particular North Star, getting my own place or ultimately “living my life on my own terms.”

The quiet, sneaky path through the shrubs signals the journey I have to take to get where I want to go – and realizing that people I meet or know may not be interested in the same destination, journey, or goal. They didn’t judge me – and those people in the shrubs (who were closer to the people in the courtyard) were more open- or like-minded than those who were on the inside of the house. Good people, still, even if they weren’t “the” group I was trying to get to – and I had to have the courage to get to that courtyard on my own.

The people on the inside of the house, who I feared would catch me are all the people that I give power over me or I feel will judge/laugh/beat me up, or otherwise stop me from doing what I want to do or from me being me. I didn’t know anyone (off the top of my head) in there, but felt like I might. And that was apparently enough to make me anxious and fearful about being seen by them.

The barking dogs and sensor lights are all the ways I can “make a noise/echo” that might alert others of my presence, about who I am, or where I was trying to go (or what I wanted to achieve).

The courtyard/porch/patio is my end goal or tribe I want to be around. In my dream, I had essentially gotten there on my own – even if I went back “to the inside” and returned again – but there was still another step I had to take — but woke up before taking it.

A few other notes/analyzations/lessons

(1.) Nobody really noticed.

The only that did were the shrubbery people and they didn’t try to stop me – and knew what I was going for. Either they didn’t have the courage to go where I was going, were taking their time and easing into the journey, or were as far as they wanted to go on their journey. Most were indifferent and in their own world.

(2.) The longer I stuck with it – the more confident I became and the easier the whole attempt became.

Passing through the shrubs was awkward at first but got easier. Going back “inside the house” and back into the courtyard was really easy – I just had to go to the door and walk out. I didn’t have to go through the shrubs again.

(3.) I became more fearless/courageous and carefree as time went on.

I didn’t care so much if I were to be seen going outside. Especially as I realized how “easy” it was to just float through the shrubs or to come and go from inside to the courtyard through that one door.

(4.) I still had to approach the tents if I wanted somewhere to stay that night (but woke up before I could).

To me this signals the importance of my desire to connect with others and that I’m not yet meeting my potential in doing so. “The people in the tents won’t know I’m outside if I don’t approach them first.”

(5.) The tents were quiet. Why was that?

Was it because the people in the courtyard were already asleep? Thinking ahead and realizing that in order to embark on the Great Adventure during the next Dawn, they had to prepare right now? Was there even anyone in the tent? Were the tents only there for me to discover solely for myself? — I never found out because I didn’t approach, didn’t initiate in time before the alarm went off.

(6.) The Dawn of the Great Adventure is still to come.

Something told me that being there (courtyard) was where I needed and wanted to be. I didn’t know precisely where the next part of the journey and the group was going to go, but I had to be there. It was as if it was the “staging grounds” for my next big journey, and this signals that I have to go through “the work” in order to get to that point.

One way that I could look at it is that the courtyard of tents/people is just my heart’s ambitions. All the things I want to do, in my dream it had appeared as something tangible and “real” in order to help me see what I wanted to do in a visual format or a physical destination.

Maybe my dream was showing me that I am closer to the courtyard than I’m giving myself credit for: that I’m right where I need to be and the “grand” part of the adventure is just about to begin, as soon as the sun rises in due time. But first I should settle in for the night, in that courtyard, instead of going back into the house after going through all that work and personal development to get here.

(7.) There are 4 kinds of people, when I have all this time been identifying and focusing on 3.

I first thought that there was…

1) people that would love what I do.
2) people that would be indifferent.
3) people that would hate/judge what I do.

I think that is still true, if only just a different way of looking at people. To me now, I see 4, from a different angle:

1) there are the inside-the-house people, they are not anyway interested in the kind of journey that I am on – they live in their own world, they have their own people, and they corral around each-other primarily (as a way to enhance their own and collective beliefs). I don’t see this as wrong as I simply see it as different.

2) there are the shrubbery people, they are no longer inside the house, but not quite at their courtyard of ambitions. They’ve separated themselves, in some way from the inside-the-house people, understand that they want to be somewhere else. They don’t congregate around each-other, but respect each-other’s space and support one-another as they get further down the “shrubbery path.”

3) there are the courtyard people, the people who are primed and ready for (or already on) their Great Adventure. These people are tight-knit with another, even if they understand their own journey may be different from those in the courtyard. They support each-other, they continue to enhance each-other’s values — but not from a place of “I want you to keep liking me and stay here” but because they -see- each-other and know what values are important to them. They may choose to embark on a different journey and seek a new courtyard at any moment, and those in the courtyard will support and cheer them on.

4) and then there are backpack people. We’re all carrying a backpack and adventuring through life. Inside-the-House people, Shrubbery people, and Courtyard people are all backpack people … at different stages in their life, each with their own sets of beliefs about themselves, others, and the world.

This is how I see people, whether or not this analogy/model applies to everyone. Either someone is not growing and has a more limited mindset, is currently growing and on their path of growth, or has grown quite a lot (while still growing) and is already at their main destination in that moment, or they are backpacking to get from stage to stage.

Neither place or type of person is better than another, but through viewing it this way I can develop a better empathetic understanding of where people are and what they are going through or why they respond/react to me and others in the way that they do.

(8.) We all have an Inside-the-House place, a Shrubbery Path, and a Courtyard.

These may be physical places, experiences, or moments of time.

Inside the House – where we feel comfortable, where we may be close-minded and not open to personal growth. The people around us may reinforce limiting beliefs or encourage us to live in a way that is “less than who we are,” even if those people are well-intentioned.

Shrubbery Path – for some, maybe it feels like it’s a secret path that only a few know about. It’s the beginning of our adventure and acts as a long “gateway” that leads to the courtyard of our ambitions/dreams. For me, this shrubbery path has involved a lot of personal growth/development that has pushed me against my edge again and again. I have to go through this path if I hope to get to the Courtyard. And I may have to be courageous enough to go through this path alone, faster or slower than others on the shrubbery path.

Courtyard of Ambitions – where we ultimately want to be, whether that’s for this particular moment in time or overall in our experience of life. This may be filled with people who “get us” that won’t “nail us down” to that place or it may be a relatively independent place, a staging point for our Great Adventure, or just a rest-stop in the grand scheme of our adventure.

This Courtyard represents what we are most excited about in our life, what seems to pull us towards it if we’re calm enough to listen. It’s a quiet place that takes seeking and intentionality to find, rather than being a loud, booming place that everyone is flocking to. It may be “loud to us” but not necessarily loud and apparent to others. We have to be willing to look outside the windows of the house, or walk in the direction of some light we see glimmering beyond the shrubbery.

(9.) Both the shrubbery paths and the doors go to the same place, although we may not see the door until we proceed through the shrubbery.

Once we traverse a shrubbery path to a particular courtyard, chances are we can find a door/shortcut to that courtyard and accessing that courtyard is much easier from that point on. Going through a shrubbery path is “experiencing” the growth and the journey to that particular courtyard – those experiences and lessons stick with us and we don’t have to traverse that particular path again, because now we now know where the door is to the courtyard.

By discovering more doors, we may learn to look for the doors instead of the hidden shrubbery path. We can start to ask, “is there an easier, shorter, faster way, truer way to get to the courtyard?” Perhaps and perhaps not. Sometimes the shrubbery path is trying to teach us not to look back “inside-the-house” for support, and when we learn not to rely on that … that particular shrubbery path no longer has that lesson to give.

Seeking doors is not about avoiding growth, but in letting go of fears and limitations. If we can let go of those fears and limitations, a shrubbery path may not be needed. But for many, we have to go through that path in order to let go and grow beyond our limitations.


This dream ended up being a much deeper experience than I first thought. I can almost always take some kind of lesson away from a dream or use my dream as a way to to recognize what’s “still important” or is an emphasis in my waking life at that time. Last night’s dream, when I took the time to write it down and then spend more time than usual analyzing it in the moment I woke up (before I forgot), ended up providing incredible insight for myself and continues to emphasize current areas in my life that are still important.

What does your courtyard look like? Sound like? Feel like?

Do you feel called towards a Great Adventure?

Are you Inside-the-House, in the Shrubbery, in the Courtyard, or Backpacking through?

Are you willing to keep walking through the path, even if it means walking past familiar faces and foreigners alike?


Photo credits:

Intro: Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash
Outro: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash