Saturday, July 10, 2010

Down the Steep Stairs

Although no man is an island, sometimes it feels that way. Dreams can help us find, and understand, our niche.

The Dream: I live in an apartment in a city, and I’m preparing to go to a zumba class. I’m looking through a box in the closet and find a second pair of zumba shoes that I had forgotten I have. I decide to wear these, along with a two-layer aerobic outfit. I know I"ll be too hot dressed this way; nevertheless I put on the layers. The layer closest to my body is a turtle-neck jumpsuit; over this, a decorative lace dress. Though I like my high-heel zumba shoes better, I want to wear the newly discovered low-heels.

As I exit the apartment building there's an unexpected hurdle. I am on the fourth or fifth floor, and the only way to street level is down a very steep and precarious staircase. It’s made of broken
bricks and each step is hardly big enough to put a foot on. The risers are far steeper than normal. It feels like going face first down a ladder. It’s frightening, and I don’t understand how this can be the usual way of coming and going.

Interpretation: The apartment (“apart” ment) again refers to my feeling of isolation. I’m preparing to go to a dance class; with its connotation of the communal and life-affirming it symbolizes the end of my apartness.  Closet (closed) and box imply something private, closed-in, secretive. Yet this is where I find a second pair of dancing shoes--a new way to join in the dance of life. I protect myself with too many layers of clothing for comfort (I’ll be too hot). The turtle-neck jumpsuit is an interesting contradiction: On the one hand it implies my turtle-like retraction to safety, on the other an outward jump into the unknown. (And these contradictory impulses are covered over with a lady-like lace dress!) I opt for the new shoes, signaling my readiness to try something different. But the old fears intervene. To join the complex life of the street I must first overcome my fear and make a scary descent.

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