Last night I dreamed about my wonderful friend Janine Thoma. She is one of those people who is universally adored. We met many years ago when our sons were in kindergarten, taught together at Country Day, and have remained close since then, even though she lives in France. Janine is smart, interesting, and beautiful. She is always meticulously dressed and wears a smile that lights a room. Even when life is tricky, she maintains a positive outlook and has a wonderful sense of humor. I would not call her athletic, however.
In my dream we were still teaching at Country Day and were chatting in the library. Janine was telling me about her recent ski trip to Chamonix. She remarked that her skills had gotten very advanced, and she demonstrated how she was able to bend her knees and navigate difficult trails with ease. I could picture her flying down a steep slope with her knees bent and her rear end low. I decided I was going to improve my own ski skills and began doing knee bends right there in the library to prepare for my next ski trip.
I am interested in dream interpretation, especially employing the ideas of Carl Jung. Jung says that when we dream about other people, we are dreaming about aspects of ourselves. One thing Janine and I have in common is our disinterest in exercise. So maybe I am planning to turn my attention to physical fitness. Maybe not.
It also makes me think about how we layer our attitudes about the past on the people in our lives. We reinterpret the events of our past to fit our attitudes about what happened. Possibly Janine is a great skier, but I cannot accept that that’s true, because I never witnessed her working out. So in my dream I am shocked that she can squat low and ski like a champion.The Country Day library was more a place for socializing than a place for quiet study, and many of my dreams about old friends are set there. When I think about my childhood I remember long summer days playing outside from morning to dark. I hardly ever think about what went on inside the house, because the story I tell myself about that period is that life indoors was filled with unpleasantness. Thus, my dreams of childhood are filled with sunny days playing kickball and pick-up-sticks.
I am reading an interesting book right now about a father whose son is accused of assassinating a popular Presidential candidate. The father, a noted surgeon, examines the past events in his son’s life to uncover the antecedents for violence. He notes that looking back, events that were seemingly unimportant take on new meaning. His ex-wife recalls that she found a glass jar filled with dead spiders in the boy’s closet when he was seven. Was that a hint that he had a violent streak? Nonetheless, the father cannot accept that his son is capable of doing something so heinous, even though the Secret Service has video of taking the boy down, gun in hand, right after the murder.
I always maintained that my children were geniuses when they were growing up, and I still see them that way. Even when things don’t look rosy or when they go through hard times, I cannot imagine that they are at fault, and I trust that they are forging the right path. If one of my kids were accused of doing something horrible, I would have a very hard time of accepting that that was true.
Perhaps I am wrong about all of this, and next winter Janine and I will ski like champions in Chamonix.