April 3, 2013. Dream #4422. Fear of Heights.
I’m in a vehicle traveling up a steep mountain on a narrow road. The mountain is on my right, a sheer drop-off is to my left. I don’t want to look down or feel anxious so I close my eyes. When I open them the right side of my vision is filled with mountain; the left, with sky.
As we round a curve I see a light brown cigar box-shaped object with a half-open lid that seems to float in the sky. I think it must be anchored to the top of the mountain like a billboard supported by slender poles. I wonder what it is. A viewing facility? An art object? Maybe I’ll find out when we arrive at our destination.
The vehicle stops. To our left a wooden deck is connected to the mountain by a narrow walkway. People are out there preparing a balloon for flight. Someone opens the vehicle door and a small, gray curly-haired dog hops out and trots fearlessly down the walkway. A fluffy white cat is perched regally on the front seat. I understand we’re to take a balloon ride and look forward to it. But I’m worried about the narrow walkway and the cat. I wish it wasn’t with us. It’s my responsibility to hold it and I tell the others, “I’m afraid the cat will leap out of my arms!” It’s not really the height I’m afraid of; it’s the precariousness of this situation, the cat’s vulnerability, and my ability to restrain it. I don’t want this concern to spoil the pleasure of our ride.
I’m writing this three days before the Wilbur Award banquet. The heights could be a metaphor for receiving this award, and Dream Mother could be showing me some anxiety I have about this event. So why the anxiety? I couldn’t figure it out so I called my best friend Ann, a Jungian therapist. When she asked what I’ve been worrying about, I was embarrassed to tell her I’ve been stressing over how I’ll look at the awards ceremony! Am I too fat for my dress? I hate my hair! Should I wear it up or down? Do I have the right shoes? Makeup? Jewelry?
The odd object in the sky is an important clue to the meaning of this dream. It looked exactly like one of those Hav-a-Tampa cigar boxes I grew up with in the Cigar City. As a teenager I put my jewelry in one. Why was it in the sky? Well, when I lived in Tampa an iconic image on its skyline was a bottle-shaped water tower advertising whisky. It was supported by slender poles. To me, these macho images of a mid-century southern town suggest an issue that originated there in my formative years, an era when Miss America pageants ruled, southern girls dominated them, and masculine values ran the whole show!
For half my life I’ve struggled to break free of gender stereotypes; travel comfortably in my own space between mountain and air, matter and spirit; and write about my journey to heal my sacred divides. And now that I’m about to receive a wonderful acknowledgement of my life’s work, I’m possessed by a teen-aged girl whose trepidations about the prom are conjuring up a scenario of potential disaster! Seriously?
My instinctual masculine side (dog) is full of confidence and ready to go. My instinctual feminine side (cat) is, in typical cat fashion, serenely above it all. But my ego has been beset by a stubborn “woman-as-beautiful-object” stereotype that refuses to die a peaceful death. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive, but there is something wrong when it impairs your ability to love yourself gracefully through the seasons of your life regardless of gender, looks or age! With Ann’s help, this issue already feels less problematic. My talk with her left me laughing at myself, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be smiling all the way to Indianapolis this Saturday and soaring home on Sunday.