Thursday, March 14, 2013
Washing dishes with Obama
I am having lunch with President Obama at a pleasant, contemporary house of wood and glass that matches its environment, an upscale, lightly wooded development. The trees around the house are mostly aspen and birch, leafless in this season. Our meal is simple, just sandwiches and soft drinks. After we eat, Obama washes dishes in the sink while the other lunch guest dries. I grab a dishcloth, wanting to do something useful, but succeed only in drying a glass.
The other lunch guest is a young man or teen my own age. I am a high school senior or freshman college student and we have been invited to lunch with the President as a special honor. We are dressed up for the occasion in blazers and ties.
I find a screwdriver and other tools on the kitchen counter. Obama laughs and remarks that Michelle is an excellent "carpenter" and that in another life she would have been a wonderful tailor. As we walk from the house under the trees, there is no sign of security, but surely the guards are there. I would like to ask the President about this, but I feel a little shy.
I woke from this morning dream after dawn, feeling that I had really been there, though not as my present self. I was moved by Obama's simplicity and modesty. I could still feel my boyish awkwardness, trying to find something useful to do in the kitchen, still hear the soft crunch of grass and leaves underfoot as we walked outside. I needed a moment to review where I was, who I was and who I had been.
I had been up very very late re-reading Far Memory, the autobiography of Joan Grant, the remarkable British psychic and novelist whose novels (of which my favorite is Winged Pharaoh) were based on her memories and dreams of lives lived in earlier times. In her memoir she describes how from early childhood she remembered her lives in different bodies and this sometimes made it hard for her to accept the confinement of an young child's body and circumstances. I was reminded of my own difficulties of staying in the body of a young Australian boy when I was growing up.
My intention for dreaming, when I finally went to bed, was to explore "far memory" - the memory of other lives. I now want to understand how my dream of being an American teen, in the kitchen with the President, relates to that intention. Perhaps part of the connection is that the dream suggests the mobility of consciousness, and that as humans, we are connected to people in many times and places in nonordinary ways, including in our contemporary world.
Of course, there are many ways to read the dream as a set of dream symbols, especially if I play the "What part of me?" game.
The dream and the intention
The first and best game to play with a dream that follows an intention is to explore the ways in which two may be linked. This can require some real detective work! When we set an intention for the night, our dream producers can astonish us by responding in a quite unexpected way that nonetheless turns out to be deeply relevant, on investigation. Sometimes they seem to ignore our intention because they think, maybe wisely, that there is something more important to know that we did not ask for (and may not want). Sometimes our dream self just wanders away from the original set course and brings back memories of other things.
Even when it's hard to find the link between the dream and the intention, it's important not to give up on the game too soon. Here others can help, because another person can sometimes spot connections the dreamer cannot see.
Drawing (c) Robert Moss