Moving Dreams

Following the death a few weeks ago of Jeremy Taylor and his wife Kathy, I spoke with their daughter Tristy, and we agreed that I would take responsibility for moving, storing, and preserving his professional books and papers.  Tristy understands that her father had a major influence on the contemporary study of dreams, and his works will have an enduring historical significance for the field.  I told her that my wife and I have recently begun working with an architect to design a study and library devoted to dream research on property we own near Portland, so I can offer a place where his collection will be available to other dream investigators in the future.

In assuming this responsibility, I did not reckon with the fact that Jeremy apparently kept every single book he ever owned in his entire life.  He loved his books, and he obviously drew great inspiration from their physical presence.  However, to someone who did not share his (and my) bibliophilia, his collection appeared rather daunting.  That, at any rate, was the response of the moving company estimator.  When I met him for an initial survey of the house, he spent a couple of hours sighing, shaking his head, and measuring shelf lengths.  He finally told me he’d never seen anything like it.  There were approximately 300 boxes of books to pack up, with a total weight of around 15,000 pounds.  It would take four guys a full day to get it all ready for the truck.

15,000 pounds of books.  Seven and a half tons.

I’m going to need a bigger library.

Last Friday the packing crew arrived at the house at 7 am.  There were four guys, none of them especially happy to be up at that hour.  When they got inside the house, their momentary elation (just books, no couches or dressers!) turned to dread when I showed them the full extent of the job (oh my god, how many f***ing books are there??).  We got to work, and to be honest, it was a struggle for the first few hours.  The quarters were tight, the air was stale and musty, and the books came in all shapes, sizes, and conditions, which made the packing process much more complex than it usually would be.  Several shelves had extra shelves behind them, so it literally seemed like the books were multiplying.  The more the guys packed, the more books there were to pack.  Suffice it to say, morale was low and tempers were short.

And then something cool happened.  The books began to work a kind of magic.  As the guys settled into the rhythm of removing the books from the shelves, wrapping them in paper, and placing them in the boxes, they inevitably noticed the covers, titles, and recurrent themes.  Dreams, dreams, dreams.  Mythology from all over the world.  Tricksters.  Ancient religions.  Jungian psychology.  Graphic novels.  Science fiction.  Surrealist art.  Poetry.  Weird stuff that’s hard even to categorize.

I heard them discussing these topics while they packed, as it dawned on them what this huge and very focused collection of books said about a person’s view of the world. They asked me a few questions about Jeremy, and over the course of the afternoon I told them about his life and works, and the importance of these books to him and to our field of study.  Naturally this got them talking about their own dreams, and their personal speculations about the powers of the human mind.  I wouldn’t say they were whistling while they worked, but it did make the time pass.  Each of them seemed to find something of special interest among the dusty tomes that made them pause and ponder for a moment.

They finished the day with a burst of energy (it was Friday, after all), and before they left at 6:30 pm I gave them each a copy of Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill.  I knew this was risky—they might never want to see another book again—but if they didn’t want it, they could just give it to someone who did, and Jeremy would be happy either way.

Whether or not they keep their books, these guys were clearly moved by Jeremy’s passion for the study of dreams.  I’m pretty sure they will henceforth look at their own dreams in a different light, with more curiosity about exploring their multiple dimensions of meaning.

As they drove away and I locked up the house, I thought, if this experience were a dream… I would interpret it as a vivid reminder that Jeremy’s books still have the power to teach and enlighten.  Aha!

16 Replies to “Moving Dreams”

  1. Ohhh Kelly, this is a beautiful dream. Thank you so much for joining Jeremy and Kathy’s soul story and journey. Eternal Blessings we all have. ..

  2. Kelly, I’m sorry to hear about Jeremy, I had not heard. But I am still living in Portland. If I can help you do anything at this end, please let me know.

    I miss all of you dreamers😊

    1. Let me know about the dream library, too. I’m over in Vancouver, Washington. I took 3 classes and got my dream worker certificate from Jeremy. Wonderful man to work with and learn from.

  3. Kelly, as a longtime student and friend of Jeremy and Kathy, reading this fills me with so many feelings: warm recollection, sadness, humor, and most of all, love. Though you and I never met, I heard Jer speak of you often. I feel such gratitude for your doing this, for all of us. Thank you!

  4. Kelly, I’m one of Jeremy’s acolytes, and would like to offer my help when you get to working with this collection. Thank you for stepping up and becoming caretaker of this precious collection, I’m in Eureka CA and could come spend a few weeks in Portland whenever you’re ready.

    I’m just dealing with how to store and preserve my various Jeremy collections of audio tapes and video tapes. So perhaps they could find a home. Also workshop notes from some 15 workshops when we brought him to Humboldt UU Fellowship. We still have some five dream groups ongoing here.

  5. I once saw that collection in Jeremy’s home, and admit that it aroused my bibliophile envy… I too have never seen a house so flush with books. Jeremy influenced and continues to influence me deeply, so much so that I am taking note on how you guys handled all those books in the event I may have to do so as well someday lol I’m so pleased to hear about the effect on the moving team too – and wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been having increased recall as a result 😉 Thanks for helping out with that Kelly for all that it will make available to others and as an honoring of our Great Friend, Travis W

  6. Dear Kelly,
    Thanks for this endearing anecdote about my beloved teacher, Jeremy (and Kathy). Personal libraries must stay together! Books are geometrically more valuable in an comprehensive collection, than they are individually. I learned this lesson as my brothers and I closed up the estate of one of our more eccentric, and favorite aunts, who was an alternative health practitioner and lab technician. Oh the incredible collection she had! We ended up giving much of it to a natural and alternative pharmacy, in the San Fernando Valley. Also, the breadth of Jeremy’s knowledge and erudition reminds me of scholars such as Isaiah Berlin or James Hillman. Reading and listening to these brilliant minds, just like listening to Jeremy, and you get the impression that they have read everything!!! It is wonderful. Thanks for doing this important work!! On behalf of humanity and in particular the dream community, we applaud you!!

  7. Dear Kelly, Thank you so much for sharing this moving tribute of my beloved teacher, Jeremy, and shedding more lights into his life. I worked with Jeremy in the past 5 years as a dreamer and had been deeply inspired by his depth and breadth of knowledge, compassion, and generosity. He had been so kind and encouraging in my spiritual journey. What a soul and what a loss to us in this lifetime. Yet through the dreamwork and preserving his writing and books, his work will continue. Thank you for doing this important work. I would love to visit this library one day and honor his memories.

  8. Hi Kelly. Please let me know the location of the library. I am in San Rafael but moving to Portland in April. Thank you for taking such loving care of his precious library

  9. I am very moved and delighted by your description of the power of Jeremy’s library . I have known Jeremy for 43 years since I came to Starr King School in Berkeley . Jeremy was teaching dream work there. I assisted him at his request in 1985 and 86 with his semester long classes. He wanted a female perspective including mythological projections at that time. He led and I assisted the groups. I now lead dream groups. My daughter Hillary who is a psychologist in Tacoma, WA area met Jeremy when he gave a seminar in Bremerton , WA at the UU church many years ago. She started a dream group that lasted for 8 years until she and some others moved to other towns. I happen to be visiting her now. She is very happy to know that Jeremy’s library will be only three hours away from her. I wish it were closer to the Bay Area( selfishly!) ! However, I am relieved to know that the thousands of volumes that I so often looked at in Kathy and Jeremy’s home will have a new home and that that library is intact!! I will make journeys to this library as will many others. Thank you so much for your dream which is coming true!! The Rev. Meg Whitaker-Greene, LMFT, MIPD graduate.

  10. Wonderful story. Jeremy was a powerful interpreter of dreams. For me, as a scholar (history of religion, including a lot of work on symbols) and as a poet, this story was deeply moving. We had a lot of conversation on symbol interpretation, which is one of my things, and I gave him some of my thoughts on the topic. I have way too many books and a vast collection (including a lot of depth psychology). In a digital era, I could see the dumpster beckoning (even though I currently have a designee in my will), but what you did with Jeremy’s books is a whole more useful.

    I did not know Jeremy well in this life, but I connected with him at a gut level. I’m deeply grateful that I had that chance three years ago. He told me that I needed to get out there and share with the world my writing and work. I’m still working at that. The temptation for me to hide out, cover crawl, and stay in the shadows can be quite strong, but I hear his voice right now. More than ever, I want to be more of a presence in the world. I’m listening.

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