Why Does He Persist? A Dream Analyst Interprets Matt Jamison's Dream


Sunday's episode of The Leftovers, "Two Boats and a Helicopter," includes a dream sequence that touches upon Rev. Matt Jamison's childhood cancer diagnosis, the fire that killed his parents, the Oct. 14 car accident that left his wife in a vegetative state, and his pre-Departure sex life (complete with a surprise cameo from Laurie Garvey). What does it all mean? Dream analyst David Bedrick broke it down for HBO.com.

Watch part of the sequence and read Bedrick's interpretation below:

The Fire
"In this sequence, I saw a polarization that comes through in Matt's story before the dream. One part of this priest wants to preserve his church, his normal life as a person – as a spouse and a sibling – so he's preserving the relationships that are defined by convention. For instance, I'm a priest and therefore, there's a literal brick-and-mortar church. I have a wife. There's a part of him that's trying to conserve that life, then, there's a passion that disrupts that. Something's pulling him into a place that's threatening his regular world. He ends up getting involved in things that are not priestly, like violence and gambling. In Matt's dream, the passion represents as fire. He's burning up. His identity is being destroyed."

His Cancer Diagnosis
"Matt arrives at the doctor's office through the church – and at first everything looks good. All the pews are filled. But then he goes past the boundaries of that inner sanctum, and there is a diagnosis – ‘It's spreading’ – meaning: You're not going to be able to stop this. You can't try to preserve the structure of your belief system in its formal way. The current form of Matt's spirituality is not going to hold, given his passion. It will burn."

Mary's Question
Mary Jamison's query, "Why do you persist?" is what Bedrick deems "the ultimate question." Bedrick continues, "He has to answer that in a way, because right now he's torn. He can either preserve his regular life, or he can align himself with the passion that's grabbed him."

Laurie Garvey
Matt dreams of having sex with his wife, only to realize it's Laurie Garvey. "Without more information about the history of Matt's relationship with Laurie, I would say that Laurie's appearance was not about sexuality, per se. Laurie is a dream stand-in for a transition. At one time, Matt was really 'on fire,' turned on by something in his traditional marriage – but it's being replaced. The thing that lights him up or turns him on – if we want to use a sexual allusion – is shifting. Matt is no longer the person he thought he was. The dream says: You're beginning to see it. That's why Matt sees himself – as opposed to someone else – having an affair in the dream. He's starting to notice he cannot stay married to something that's more conventional than he really is. His spirituality is moving beyond the literal church, which is burning down. In actuality he may be moving closer to the essence of his spirituality."

What advice does Bedrick have for this character? "I'd say, 'Something is pulling you into a different kind of life. Consider saying yes to that. These conventions might be taken from you anyway – it might be more graceful and less violent for you to actively let go.'"

David Bedrick is a dream analyst on the faculty of the School for Process-Oriented Psychology. Learn more at TalkingBacktoDrPhil.com.