This is the season of dreaming, these nights and days between the Solstice and Epiphany.
I mine my dreams in these days carefully, for words and feelings and images, symbols I can use to put the old year to rest, or to carry into the creation of the coming year.
This is going to seem more like a personal journal, perhaps, than a blog. In some ways that is what the blog is. Feel free to read along. I follow a fairly Jungian path to dream interpretation, looking at myself in the story of it, reading it like a fairy tale, watching for images and people to stand out to me, for relationships to reveal themselves. I try to write my dreams in present tense, so it draws me back into the moment of experiencing the dream. I am open to hearing your thoughts about symbols and archetypes in the dream. I tend to close myself off to “This is what your dreams means,” finding my inner world much more open to “This is what I see or hear in your dream.”
Last night: I am taking a student home. While people in my dreams are often archetypal stand-ins, this is an actual student in an actual class of mine right now, a sensitive and thoughtful young woman who has been finding this year to be an emotional roller coaster. We are in Lancaster. Parts of it are recognizably Lancaster, but much of it is dream creation. Also, we are not in a car. I am pushing her in a large stroller.
At one point, we get stuck waiting in traffic, and she starts to suggest we go left, but I am already on it. We pull out of traffic and go through a neighborhood which is almost entirely brick. Orange brick–big, rounded orange bricks. All the houses, the cobbled walkways, and the street itself. “We call this Peter’s thumbs,” she tells me.
I say that it’s good exercise to go up over this way, and she says, “Oh, I don’t believe in that whole weight loss thing.”
This touches a nerve for me because, while I am being really careful right now about not gaining more weight (I gained al lot in the spring of the pandemic), I make it a point to never ever use the words weight loss diet in front of students. So I make a little half-lie: “Oh, I just meant exercise. I want to be healthy and strong. I don’t care about diets and weight loss.” (This is the lie I tell myself in real, waking, life in order to try to make it a truth. When the numbers on the scale are troubling to me. Even at 53, I still struggle with body image.)
At one point our journey takes us up a street that’s more of a tunnel, underneath a heavy, dark skywalk. I’m talking more about exercise and deepening my lie about not caring about my weight. At the top of the hill, when we get into the light, I realize that she’s no longer in the stroller thing. I panic. I’ve lost her! She emerges from the doorway behind me: “Oh, I just thought I’d walk for myself for a little while.” She’s wearing an orange acrobat’s leotard.
That’s when the alarm goes off. As I was writing that, I kept getting flashes of the dream that preceded it, of a small blond boy (perhaps one of mine) following an older child around a camp. They cover themselves in mud. They run down to the river to wash. I have a moment of panic that the small child will drown, and have that moment of vision when I see myself diving into the muddy river, frantically searching for a drowning child, but it passes, and I hold back on my panic as they run laughing into the water.
I think this dream hits right at the center of my anxieties about parenting and teaching–the weight of responsibility, of protecting (both physically and psychically) the young ones in my care. Unfortunately, when I get anxious about the physical well-being of my children, I do get momentary visions of worst-case scenarios sometimes. I do find myself spooling out the dreads. My Dream-spinner was showing me that part of myself, I think.
And also about my own lifelong battle with learning to love being in this particular body, of dealing with shame for my up-and-down weight, of very intentionally not speaking of diet in front of students, particularly female students. In general, I think teachers and adults need to be open about our struggles with students, not spilling all our secrets and pain, but letting them know that we, too, go through challenges. But this whole diet thing is pernicious and insidious. Hearing others talk about dieting has always been a trigger for me, and I want to be extra cautious about that with students.
Like the panic about the boy in the river, I had a similar panic when the student (who is struggling in real life) approached the topic of weight loss. I felt the heaviness of being responsible for someone else’s emotional health. But the reality, at the end of the dream, was that I was not actually pushing her. She was coming out on her own power, and indeed, with grace and agility and strength, as an acrobat.
I think the words for this dream are: Responsibility, Care, Anxiety. Maybe Diet or Body Image. The color orange: Sacral Chakra. Tend to the creative and sensual.
I have no idea what the heck Peter’s Thumbs are doing in the dream!
1. When I cannot be with my beloveds, memories really do warm my heart
2. New things arising and old things passing out of the picture
3. Messages from the Dream-spinner
4. Today is the last day of school until January–I need this break
5. Today I am healthy. And I hope you are, too. Stay well.
May we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty!
“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you.” —Isadora Duncan
“There is really only one way to restore a world that is dying and in disrepair: to make beauty where ugliness has set in. By beauty, I don’t mean a superficial attractiveness, though the word is commonly used in this way. Beauty is a loveliness admired in its entirety, not just at face value. The beauty I’m referring to is metabolized grief. It includes brokenness and fallibility, and in so doing, conveys for us something deliciously real. Like kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with powdered gold, what is normally seen as a fatal flaw is distinguished with value. When we come into contact with this kind of beauty, it serves as a medicine for the brokenness in ourselves, which then gives us the courage to live in greater intimacy with the world’s wounds.” —Toko-pa Turner
“God has scattered the haughty ones.
God has cast down the powerful from their places of power
and has lifted up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.” —Mary
“No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” —Kahlil Gibran
“Always there comes an hour when one is weary of one’s work and devotion to duty, and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.” —Albert Camus
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop. ” —Rumi (Barks)
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power
reconstitute the world.