I had a weird dream the other night. Two young children, maybe about ten and four, who didn’t look like mine, but I identified in the dream as mine, went off on a motorcycle, ten year old driving. I was screaming because I just knew they were going to be killed (they weren’t killed in the dream, they just disappeared down the road). That’s it.
The dream recurred several times, and i remembered it in the morning, which is unusual for me. I suspect it is a reflection of my anxiety about leaving for such a long time in Asia, but it was a strange way for that to manifest.
I posted about it on Facebook, and had several friends who know a lot about such things offer explanations. One offered a numerological analysis based on the three ages, the two children and myself. Another added to that, the idea that there was in it the “innocent exhilaration of a four year old with the sense of adventure of a ten year old,” adding that I was the experienced voice of caution, but might not need to be as worried as I felt. Another friend, well versed in Jung, agreed with this and pointed that in the dream no damage occurred. An adventurous and brave 10-year old undertook the nusual act of riding a motorcycle, and shared it with a friend.
I feel bathed in the love of three people who deeply want the dream to mean that things will be okay. They wanted me to see this dream as a basis for confidence in myself. Despite my apparent anxiety, I would be fine, and these little adventurers on the bike were extensions of myself going off into the unknown.
But the dream wasn’t about the children. It was about me. It was about being helpless, about the dawning sense of terrible, terrible loss.
I don’t talk much about this, but here is what I think the dream meant.
In 1999, I went off for the fall semester to Florence for a sabbatical. I said goodbye to my 21-year-old son, Adriano, and never saw him again. In December of that year he took his life shortly before I came home. I have recalibrated my own life, and have indeed been able to reconstruct a happy existence. He is there, tucked into my heart, to put it gently, or scarred into it, to put it another, blunter way.
I know from experience that you can never expect to come back to what you leave behind. When I go off on my travels, everyone I love goes off on their own life journey as well. I want to come back and find everyone unchanged, or better yet, changed in positive ways. But I can’t keep them safe. In many ways it is much, much easier to believe I can keep myself from harm.
When those two children went off on that motorcycle, it would be nice to think it was all a fun adventure and they would be back. I know better. Trust, love, and hope are all I can send out into the universe, and pray that it will be enough.