Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Dangerous Illumination

The Dream: An old woman sits on a park bench with me; a younger woman sits behind us. An older child plays nearby; a baby lies in a pram with a hood the length of its carriage. The older woman speaks, sotto voce, about things the children shouldn't hear. The “nanny” behind us is alarmed that the children will hear. I look inside the tunnel created by the pram's hood and I see the baby: ugly, very ugly, its red face scrunched up in a yowl.

The older woman is murdered. The scene switches to a prequel. The older woman, the nanny, and I run into each other in a general store. They have a large stream of children with them, ranging in age from pram age to about 11. They are lined up in the order of their ages. I understand that this scene (of the dream) will help me determine who murdered the old woman.

Interpretation: This dream occurred on my mother's birthday, and the older woman in the dream allows me to reflect on her loss as I wonder: who killed her?

What is it we don't want our inner child to know, as we whisper sotto voce, if not the grim reality of our own inevitable death? Of course the baby howls—as loudly as he can—to drown out this realization. He becomes ugly from the effort. Is this what makes humans so ugly to each other? Would we behave the way we do—so grasping—if we accepted our limited time here? Death is the most basic “fact of life.” Of course it can't be discussed in front of the children who, by succeeding their parents, appear to have killed them, leaving the children with a guilt they can't acknowledge or eradicate. Or is the guilt from the unacknowledged joy of being free of them at last? Is that the murderer we can't discover?

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