Beginning with “Gated Religions” I’ve been far more outspoken about social issues than is normal for me. One night three weeks into the series of posts about injustice I had two dreams depicting my feelings about the new direction my blog is taking. I’d like to share the first one here, partly because it contains one of the commonest dream themes of all — being naked in public — and partly because it helps me illustrate the point I made in “Under the Big Top” about what it’s like for me to try to stay conscious. Next time I’ll tell you about the second dream.
Dream #4251: Nude Descending Stairs
I’m in a public square in an urban area. I’ve walked up a flight of steps to a higher level and am ready to go back down. I go to the edge of the platform I’m on intending to step down, but see I’m much higher than I thought. I return to the steps but am intimidated by their narrowness and the fact that there are no railings. I’m concerned about losing my balance and falling and making a public spectacle of myself. It seems as if I’m wearing big clunky boots that might cause me to mis-step and will make it harder to feel my way. Then I look down at myself and realize, Oh! I’m naked. No shoes, nothing. With a flash of awareness I realize there’s no way I’d be naked in public so this has to be a dream. This delights me. Well then, I think. If this is a dream I have nothing to lose. I shall descend the stairs, proudly naked for all to see! I take a deep breath and in a queenly gesture I throw back my shoulders, spread out my arms, and glide serenely down the steps.
The dream says I’m feeling a bit too high for comfort and want to get down. My first thought is that I want to stay balanced (a frequent concern of mine; hence, the sense of walking a tightrope I wrote about in Under the Big top). My second is that I don’t want to publicly embarrass myself. But seeing my nakedness awakens me to the reality that I’m dreaming and after that I feel wonderful.
In my experience, lucid dreams (dreams in which you know you’re dreaming) point to a new level of awareness in which you have seen a limiting fear or assumption and are acquiring the courage to rise above it. It’s like you’ve realized, If life is just a dream, I have nothing to fear by being me. When I reflect on my waking life I see that what I’m overcoming is a gut-level childhood fear of attracting criticism or controversy for expressing my honest opinions. After the Lone Ranger shot me and my father died, all confidence and security vanished, danger awaited the smallest mis-step, and conflict felt profoundly life-threatening.
Blessedly, for the moment, at least, I’m losing my fear of exposing the naked truth about my views and feeling positive, confident, and empowered. Hence, my queenly stroll down the steps! If I’d rushed to cover myself up, this dream would be showing me how intimidated I still am at the prospect of public vulnerability and censure.
This is incredibly liberating. I’m reminded of the line from Kris Kristofferson’s song, Me and Bobby McGee: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Sort of like being naked. No more masks to take off. Rock on, Kris!
I too have suffered from despair since childhood. It began at the age of 11 when my father died. To this day there are many occasions in my daily life when I cannot get excited about something because I know it will not last and my pleasure will not last and I will die and nobody will care and nothing I have done will make any difference, and so what?