Roger Kamenetz says that our dreams are the subconscious attempts to confront us on issues to which we need to pay attention. I highly recommend his books, The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night's Dream . Now that I am getting some sleep, and I am starting to remember dreams, I am also trying to listen to them.
Last night's dream: I was on a Department of Roads team—the new guy. We gathered at the rear of the two-ton flatbed truck to discuss the plan of action. A few yards ahead of us was a long span of bridge over a four-lane highway and a river below. Our task was to wash the gravel and salt off of the bridge. The supervisor, a lady in a baggy white denim shirt with buttoned pockets on the chest, and a wide collar. She wore baggy, unpressed khaki pants. Her curly blond frizzy hair blew in the gusts of wind. “Let's see, now. We do have some detergent with us.” She spoke first looking down the road toward the bridge, then back at me. “I want to hear what you think we should do to clean the bridge.”
I tried hard not to show my surprise at her question. I heard her mention the detergent, but was otherwise clueless. This was, after all, my first day on the job. My gut told me to steer clear of the detergent. I knew that what ever we did, we needed to dilute, or neutralize the salt. I scanned my memory for my high school chemistry where learned that salt was a by-product of neutralized acid. Even so, salt is very corrosive, so I must have misunderstood what salt came from. Then I thought that perhaps the detergent we had was specially designed to neutralize the salt. I looked at the terrain below the bridge. Along with the four-lane highway, there was a meandering shallow river with a great deal of natural vegetation. I thought that surely the salt and detergent were the last things we wanted to use because the run-off would end up in the river.
The supervisor smiled as she looked into my eyes, waiting for the answer. “Why would she mention detergent if that were not part of the answer she expected.?” I asked myself.
“Yeah,” I started with feigned confidence and authority, “high pressure water and a mild detergent mix ought to be good.”
The smile on her face grew bigger as she cocked her head in a “Gotcha” gesture. I knew immediately that I should have gone with my instinct and totally ignored the comment about the detergent. I awoke, feeling embarrassed, stupid, and duped.
I think there were two messages that came from the dream. 1) I try to read people to please them much to my own peril. 2) Pride always makes a fool of its prisoners.
The solution to the problem? First, my instinct said “no detergent” and warned me about salt and detergent in the river below.” I should have went with no detergent, but had no clue what to do about salt. Pride forced me to provide an answer and cover the ignorance with a show of authority and confidence. I should have simply stated my concern about the salt and the detergent and left the solution up to the supervisor who probably knew the correct action to take.
So my targets are to trust my intuition more, and to ferret out and marginalize pride in my life.