Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What the Subconscious Reveals

I had a dream.
I had an awesome dream.
-- Lionel Richie, "Say You, Say Me"

Shortly before 6 a.m. this morning, I was awakened from one of those dreams that's so vivid, you need to get up and walk around just to realize that it wasn't real. If any of you readers have experience with dream interpretation, your comments would be welcome.

I dreamt that I was driving on the two lane state highway that leads out to the rural house where my maternal grandparents lived when I was a child. On this road, there is a stretch on a small grade that culminates in an S-curve.

In the dream, a portion of that grade is out and is crossable only on foot. My three year-old daughter is with me. We get out and leave the car behind. The only way to get across is to climb a ladder from the lower ground to the higher ground.

The ladder is made from aluminum and appears to be sturdy, but as I climb the ladder, I realize that the center of the ladder is lined with wild brush. I see grapes, but as my skin makes contact with it, I feel the pain of small thorns.

My daughter is climbing a few steps ahead of me and does things that scare me. At one point she hangs from one of the ladder steps, and I fear that she will fall to the ground below. She does not share my fear and appears to be having fun.

It is at about 2/3 of the way across that I look to my left and see a stairway, also made of aluminum, that appear to lead to the other side of the gap. I struggle with whether to climb back down with my daughter or keep pressing to the end. It is at this point when I wake up.

My naive interpretation is that this dream portrays the extent to which fear has dominated my life choices. The fear of falling from a ladder is one of the most primal fears that I have, aside from abandonment.

When I was of kindergarten age, I remember breaking my left arm by falling from the ladder of the slide at my paternal grandmothers. I also had a fear of climbing the monkey bars in my early grade school years. I was terrified of clibming the drop-down ladder staircase to the attic in my house.

The gap in the highway symbolizes the growth that I must undergo as I try to change my life for the better.

The ladder is the path that faces my fears head on. The material of construction, aluminum, may signify sturdiness. I need not fear the ladder collapsing on me when I climb it. If I fail to make it across, it will be the weakness of my character, not the weakness in the ladder itself.

The stairway is the safer route that symbolizes the choices I make because of my fears, such as avoiding conflict and trying to keep others happy.

The presence of my daughter is what made the dream so disturbing. I worry about the damage I may do to my children as I attempt to take greater charge in my life, especially if that means that my marriage comes to an end. The daughter in peril may repesent a reminder that crossing this divide successfully requires vigilance and compassion.
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