For several years I’ve occasionally helped a friend understand puzzling dreams. Recently he shared one I found so interesting that I asked his permission to share it here. First, I need to tell you something about him.
As an avid cyclist, he was a long-time fan of Lance Armstrong. A really BIG fan. He followed all his races. He worried about him when he was diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer and celebrated when he returned to racing and won. He supported Armstrong’s charity, Livestrong—a Non-Profit Organization that unites, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer—by buying many of its products and encouraging others to do the same. You might say Lance Armstrong was his hero. He admired him, was inspired by him, and avidly defended him when others suggested he might be taking drugs.
And then, “in 2012, a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation concluded that Armstrong had used performance-enhancing drugs over the course of his career and named him as the ringleader of ‘the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'”(Wikipedia) A CNN article wrote, “The epic downfall of cycling’s star, once an idolized icon of millions around the globe, stands out in the history of professional sports.”
My ethically idealistic friend was outraged. He felt duped, violated, betrayed. What bothered him most was that Armstrong had ruined the career of fellow cyclist and friend, Frankie Andreu, and publicly slandered and humiliated his wife Betsy for exposing his drug use. And he was utterly unrepentant! My friend threw out or gave away all his Livestrong gear and even burned one of his shirts. Whenever someone brought up the subject he could feel the anger and hatred rising to the point that he could barely contain it.
He couldn’t forgive Armstrong and lived with this knot of hatred for three years. He knew it wasn’t good for him, but he couldn’t help it. Then a few weeks ago he had this dream:
“I’m in a store where people are standing around a table admiring some Livestrong gear. I say, “Don’t buy any of that stuff. The guy’s a liar, a doper, a cheater, and a despicable human being!” Then I go into a room where a man is admiring a beautiful racing bike and see he’s Frankie Andreu. I say, “Hey Frankie. I have an idea. Let’s go out there and buy up all that Livestrong gear and burn it! I can buy a thousand dollars worth if you’ll take care of the rest.” Frankie enthusiastically agrees, so we buy everything. Then I say, “Where can we burn it?” A Mafioso-looking man nearby says, “I have a field you can use.” So we pile our purchases in Frankie’s SUV, drive to the site, and burn the gear.
We hear a commotion and see people sitting in front of a nearby tent. They tell us they’re watching a mountain bike race. Just then a biker comes into view over a rise wearing Livestrong clothes. I think it’s Lance, so I say to Frankie, “Hey, lets shout insults at him.” He agrees. I see my BB gun lying in the lawn chair in front of me. “Let’s sting him a little with this,” I say. “Yeah, that’ll be good,” he says. But the biker turns out to be Armstrong’s girlfriend.
Another biker rides past then Armstrong comes over the rise. I see my hand gun beside the BB gun. I pick it up, aim it at him and shoot three shots in the shape of a triangle into his center mass. I look at the gun in my hand and think, “I’m going to jail for this. But I guess that’s okay. Being the guy who killed Lance Armstrong isn’t a bad legacy.”
When I asked my friend how he felt after that dream, he said most of the anger and resentment was gone. I asked how he felt about it now. He said, “I feel good!” That’s when I realized what the dream was about.
It wasn’t saying he’s a terrible person. This would be taking the dream literally and ignoring the underlying metaphorical meaning. Since he learned the truth about Lance Armstrong he’d been obsessed, feeling embarrassed, angry and unforgiving. Meanwhile, without his awareness, his unconscious was looking for a solution to this unsatisfactory way of living; and when the time was right, it gave him this healing dream.
Killing Lance Armstrong in a dream gave his moral outrage a profoundly powerful, yet harmless outlet. After three years, his obsession has been defused and he’s feeling pretty good. Because what he actually killed was Lance Armstrong’s power over him.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone handled their hatred with the same integrity and self-restraint as my friend? If they took their inner lives seriously? If they tried to understand their dreams? If they felt and expressed their honest feelings without causing harm?
This reinforces my belief that there’s hope for our world. There is a way for humanity to attain inner and outer peace. And this is it.