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I had a really weird dream last night.

In it, I was walking in a city, with Kelsey, and we noticed something scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk.  It was something about the Norristown High Speed Line.  At first I was excited, thinking "Yay, someone is writing about the Norristown High Speed Line" but then I realized that it had a derogatory comment about black people on it.  We started talking about the comment and expressed that we found it disturbing.

There were three young black women walking behind us, and they overheard our conversation.  I remember feeling nervous at first, because I had made a few frank comments about race, which I didn't think of as being politically correct, and I wasn't sure if they had offended these women.  But apparently they didn't and they actually liked my comments, and they joined in, and we started having a really positive and productive discussion about race.  We stopped and were standing around at one point, and more people joined in.  It was a really great discussion, but the women eventually moved on, and I was ready to go on my way with Kelsey.

I then realized though that I didn't know where Kelsey was.  I turned around, looking for her, and I saw her being held up at gunpoint, up against a building.  I was really terrified.  Before I could realize what was happening, the people holding her up then came over to me and held a gun on me.  They didn't say anything and I didn't know what to do, so I pulled out my money.  I remember thinking that I hope they didn't take my ID and other cards because it would be a pain in the butt to get my cards replaced.  I remember looking at the man holding me up...he was a tall, lanky white man in his 40's and was scruffy, had short hair, and wearing jeans.

I then remembered that I was a wizard (because in dreams I am a wizard, and this often comes out in crisis situations).  And I was like--how could my magical powers hold up against a gun?  I didn't know.  I wasn't sure.  But I knew I was a powerful wizard, and I took a risk.  I was like, just in case, I am first going to cast a spell to protect both me and Kelsey from harm.  I wasn't sure if the spell would fully protect us from a gun, but I cast it anyway.  I then was like, I'm going to cast a spell to make myself more agile, because that couldn't hurt in this situation.  And then I was like, maybe I can cast a spell to attempt to disarm my assailants.  So I did, but I wasn't sure if it worked.  I remember casting a large series of spells which resulted in a large tactical advantage for myself and Kelsey in the situation.

I still wasn't sure if I was safe against this assailant who had a gun, but I felt like there was certainly a good chance that I was.  But then I realized that he and the other muggers were scared shitless...after all they were now confronted with a wizard who was casting magic spells at them...and I realized that they were just as uncertain as I was, about whether or not their gun would have any use against me at all, and they didn't seem at all ready to use it.

But instead of attacking or trying to run, I was like--maybe now I'm in a position of more power, maybe I can use this position to try to open some dialogue.  So I was like: "Alright.  So how about we talk about the fact that you were just trying to mug us and take our money.  What is that about?"

And it worked...the people were so freaked out that they started engaging in a frank discussion about what they were doing, and why.  And it was a really fascinating discussion.  And we were talking about how we reacted in the moment.  And it was like, we went from being involved in a power struggle, to having a frank discussion about what was going on in our lives and what our wants and needs were, and it turned out to be a really productive and positive discussion.

I feel like the interpretation of this dream is more obvious and direct than most.  I think the dream is also about Why This Way, and the way of resolving problems and disputes by moving away from power struggles and moving towards building a consensus that really addresses the underlying issues.  Maybe there is some subtlety in the dream though that I haven't yet uncovered though...maybe I can return to this at some point in time.
I had a bizarre dream last night that was somewhat epic, both in terms of how long it was, how intense the experiences in it were, and how much detailed I remembered.  I don't remember every part of it.

The first part I remember clearly is being in a city, walking somewhere with a group of people.  At some point we got to a graveyard and we were walking through it.  I don't remember much about the plot or purpose of our actions at this point.  But there was a large building which I went to, which was a school of Wizardry...sort of like Hogwarts but it wasn't really Hogwarts.

I went into the building and into one of the dorms.  In the dream, I think I was a student in the school and I may have been staying in the dorm there.  But at the same time, it was like I was also my present self in my normal life, kinda outside the dream reality, and I was reflecting on how I had never really found the sort of environment I had had in a college dorm, with the strong sense of community.  I was thinking about how much I liked and valued and missed that environment, and how I think it is really beneficial for people to be in that sort of environment.

The dorm had beige cinderblock walls and a drab, very fine-textured carpet.  It was a single hallway with a stairwell at both ends.  It had dim fluorescent lighting.  It was in the architectural style of Dascomb and East halls at Oberlin college...70's dorms built in the riot-proof architecture following the student protests.  Yet in spite of the not-necessarily-friendly architecture I felt immensely comfortable in the dorm.

I was talking to numerous students in the dorm.  There was one girl I was talking to, and she was talking about some sort of recent sexual escapades she had been involved in, with a guy.  She wanted to talk about it, but she said that she felt ashamed about it.  She began talking to me about it, and it involved pretty intense S&M, like, involving blood.  From her description of the situation, it was not 100% apparent to me whether or not the interaction was completely consensual--in that she may not have adequately obtained the guy's consent.  I was concerned with this, and brought up the issue of consent.  It seemed from her talking to me, that she had been feeling ashamed because of the "kink" factor of what she had done, but that it hadn't occurred to her that there might be a problem with the issue of consent or lack thereof.  Talking to her about it seemed to change the way she was thinking about it.

I don't remember everything about this part of the dream, but I do remember that we had this conversation when we were walking out of the dorm area, and down a stairwell, into an area that had a bright white paint to the walls, and big windows that overlooked an area below...we were on the second floor.

I don't remember exactly how this continued into the next part of the dream, but at some point we were outside next to a steeply sloping incline, with a stream at the bottom.  The area was densely forested, with deciduous forest, and it was night, and very dark--considerably darker than the area around the school, which I think had been illuminated with the lights of a city or at least campus lighting.

I don't remember exactly what was going on, but there was a group of birds maybe about 50-100 feet away from us...they were large birds, a little like cormorants, but they walked like penguins and they were quite robust.  They started coming towards us and I think they may have been throwing stones.  I don't remember exactly what was going on, but I felt threatened by them.  There was also a group of youths in the dark, whom I also felt threatened by.  I remember hunkering down somewhere and letting the birds and youths pass.

We then walked along the road.  It was very dark, and I was in a small group, myself and one or possibly 2-3 other people.  We were approaching a small settlement of fairly wealthy houses...they were stone houses in the style of many of the houses in the older suburbs of Philadelphia.  We had a plan to break into a home, to steal supplies which we needed to carry out some sort of plan.  We were walking around looking for a house to break into.

We turned right, down a side street, and we came upon a house that got our attention.  The sun had come out and at this point it was daytime.  The house had a peculiar bird, something like a Toucan, but black and white, or like, black and cream colored, and it was sitting on a nest constructed on a small arbor directly in front of the entryway to the house.  I was interested in the bird and nest, and I was looking at it, when an older man came out of the house.  He looked to be in his 60's and was in good shape.  He was mostly bald but had dark hair.  He was a minister.

He came down and talked to us, in his side yard.  One of the people with us was a young woman about my age, and a very large lizard, almost the size of a crocodile, but differently proportioned, came out of the dense shrubbery in the man's yard.  The young woman grabbed the lizard and was taunting it, holding its mouth shut while it was trying to bite her.  I was a bit stressed out and I told the woman to stop taunting the lizard because I thought it was cruel and disrespectful, and also because I was afraid of the lizard harming us.  The lizard was able to open its mouth partially, and it started talking and taunting us, kind of trash talking.  She then reached her hand in the lizard's mouth and plucked out one of its teeth.  The lizard seemed indifferent, and then started speaking in a boastful tone: "Unlike you humans, when one of my teeth falls out I just grow a new one."

We realized that a blizzard was approaching...it was really big...and it came on really fast.  It want from being a calm, warm, cloudy day to being like, extremely snowy, with gusty winds.  We went in the house and the winds were shaking the house, and we were all panicking a bit...because we realized that it wasn't just an ordinary blizzard, but it was the apolocalypse, come in the form of a blizzard to destroy things.

The man and his wife hastily gathered together a few of his belongings, because he wanted to go somewhere to escape.

Somehow, we were sent back in time, to the point that we were walking along the road towards the settlement.  But we had the knowledge of the events that were going to come to pass, and we were talking about how we wanted to change our course of action given this new knowledge.

We decided that, since our original goal had been to find things to loot or steal from the village, and since we knew the minister and his wife were going to abandon their home while taking minimal positions, and because we had seen exactly what he would take with him, that it would be ethical for us to go to the man's house and take any of the possessions he didn't take with him.  We rushed to the man's house and went inside, and we warned him that there was going to be an impending blizzard approaching.

We looked out the window, and could see the blizzard approaching.  Incidentally, in this dream, the Norristown High Speed Line went alongside the man's house...and the blizzard was travelling towards the house along the train tracks.  It was not a normal blizzard...it was like, a dense wall of snow, with strong gusting winds, that you could see in the distance, against a mostly sunny background.  The forest here was shorter, and mostly coniferous trees.

The man and his wife saw the blizzard and they did exactly what the had the first time--gathered a few belongings and quickly left, but this time they escaped the blizzard.  We immediately began scouring the couple's house, mainly their bedroom and closet, as we noticed that they had not taken any items from there when they left.  In the closet, I found a strange cross that was made out of plastic and somewhat flexible; it wasn't a normal cross symbol; it was three dimensional and projected orthogonally in all three dimensions, and was longer in one so it still had a cross-like shape.  Although it looked cheaply made, I had a feeling that it had magical powers, that would be able to protect us from evil.  I took it.

We then noticed something interesting about the blizzard...it wasn't destroying everything, it was seeking out people, but not specific people, but it was just moving in general towards, and concentrating around the areas of densest human settlement.  We then realized that the way to survive the blizzard was to head as far away from the density of people as possible, and spread ourselves out.  So, being in the settlement next to the train line, we were in the worst possible place--we rushed outside and went to head out into the middle of the woods, away from people, and sure enough, the blizzard went straight to the village.

The last part of the dream was very weird.  I am not sure how it transitioned to this part.  There was a device that we had, which enabled you to like, inhabit a virtual body elsewhere in the globe.  It was very inexpensive to use, costing only between cents to under $30, to travel to locations, both local and remote...you couldn't do everything that you could do, but you could at least travel to different locations to see and experience them.  I was thinking about how I wanted to travel, but how it was so expensive...and how this device would allow me to do it more cheaply.  I began exploring practical questions--including the legality of travel: did it require a visa or passport?  Apparently it did not.  I also noted that it was a Japanese company (I think) that produced the device.

I began thinking of where I wanted to go, and I decided that I wanted to use it to go to a place that I don't think exists in real life, but that I had been to in another dream, and that I can't explain very easily.  It was a country far away that centers around a fairly deep lake or inland sea, and has relative steep borders to the lake that rise into mountains, all of which are covered with dense forests.

That's as much as I remember about the dream.

I had an interesting dream a few days ago.  In the dream, I was gathered with a bunch of people near a beach.  We had a large tent set up.  A number of people in our group started walking down the beach to go do something, and I realized that everyone had left the tent behind.  The tent had a lot of expensive electronics in it, including an ipad, and several laptops and smartphones and other expensive devices, all sitting out in the open.  I had the thought that if I left the tent alone, there was a risk that someone could come by and steal the electronics.

I tried to yell after the people walking down the beach and bring this to their attention, and asked them if they needed or wanted me to watch the electronics, but I wasn't able to get anyone's attention, and I was left standing around.

I decided that I wanted to watch the tent because the risk of someone stealing the electronics was too high and I would rather stay behind for an unspecified amount of time, than risk that.  I remember feeling slightly annoyed, but once I made the decision to stay I felt content with it, and I started working on other things, and then later I talked to other people who came by and the dream went on.  I don't remember much else from the dream.

I initially thought this was just another dream, and I didn't think it was particularly deep, but I was talking to sylviagrace about it, and she pointed out that she thought the dream was about the concept of responsibility.  I've been thinking about and talking about responsibility a lot, in the context of discussions in Why This Way.  There's a wiki page on responsibility that covers some of the results of these discussions.

It now seems obvious to me that this dream is about the notion of taking responsibility for something when you end up being the only person able to do something...like when the situation or circumstances set it up this way, or when the negligence of other people leave you so that you are the only person in a position to make a choice (or the only person who actually chooses to make that choice).  For example, it seems a lot analogous to there being litter on a street which no one picks up, or the situations where someone seems like they could be injured, and either people are walking by, ignoring them, or maybe you are the only person who sees them.

Anyway, that is what I was thinking about, and the dream seemed a lot deeper when I thought about it in this respect.  I also was thinking about an analogy between the electronics, and human life.  I don't really place a great deal of importance on electronics, but they do represent an item with a high cash value that is easily stolen.  But I think analagous situations, like the example of the injured person I gave above, occur with human life--which is something I consider much more valuable, in a categorical sense, than electronics.  When I think about the dream in this context, I find it really thought-provoking.

A Dream About Why This Way

I had a really interesting dream last night.  In the dream, I was outside a building, which was a school or something else associated with Why This Way.  The imagery of the dream was quite vivid.

The building was massive, many stories high and stretching very wide, and I could not see into it or around it so I had little idea how far back it went.  I was up on a stone wall, made of very large pieces of granite, which surrounded the building.  The wall was very tall...perhaps 30 feet or so tall, and I was up on it.  I was climbing down, which was a bit of a physical feat in the dream, figuring out a way to climb down to the ground.

It was night, and there was also dense foliage around parts of the building, which was mostly made out of a relatively dark granite, and looked pretty to me.  Once I was on the ground (I landed on the outside of the wall) I walked through an opening in the wall and got close to the building, but I could not find a door or entrance.  I started looking around and I found that on the inside wall of the outer wall (which was very thick, about as wide as it was tall) there was a directory, marked "Directory", but it was blank.  It looked very old, like it hadn't been maintained in a long time.  I also noticed that next to the directory was a small door.

I entered the door, and I was inside a little area that had been built into the inside of the outer wall surrounding the building.  It had low ceilings...I was in an entryway that was a bit longer than wide, and I made my way to a door at the back of the entryway.  This led into a narrow hallway running to the left and right.  I went to the right and there was a door.  It was dark and there were light switches, so I turned them on and the inside illuminated with a warm light.  It turns out that the area through this door was a bathroom.

The bathroom had off-white tile floors and also had low ceilings like the rest of the place.  It went the length of the wall, to the right.  I looked around, and didn't find anything of interest, and was about to leave...I tried to turn off the lights in the bathroom before I left, but when I flipped the switch, instead of the lights turning off, bodies began to rise from the floor, almost like zombies or undead.  I had a moment of panic, and flipped the switch that I had just flipped, and some bodies fell to the ground, but others started rising up.

There were a whole series of switches that I had flipped on when I entered the room, that had controlled different series of lights, and I realized that when I would flip some switches, some bodies would come to live and others would drop to the floor.  It was like a math problem, to find the permutation of switches that would make all the bodies come up.  I fiddled with the switches and solved the problem, and realized that no combination of switches would make all the bodies stop.  So I had a thought to myself--maybe it's not meant to be, maybe I can actually just flip switches that make a lot of bodies pop up and maybe that's not a bad thing.

So I switched the switches so that most of the bodies came to life...I distinctly remember one body that did not come to life; he was a young boy with dirty blond hair.  At any rate, most of the bodies came to life, and it turned out that they were really friendly.  It turned out that they also knew how to maintain the directory, and they told me that they could tell me how to find the door to enter the building.  Then I woke up.

My interpretation:

I find it interesting that when I woke up, I did not have a clear interpretation to this dream.  I then talked to Sylvia about it, and still didn't have a clear interpretation.  But later, after the Why This Way meeting, I talked to Melanie about it, and Melanie observed that one possible interprtetation was that the people coming to life, and me initially being afraid of them but them turning out to be friendly and helpful, could symbolize how Why This Way creates an environment in which people who might initially seem like they could be threats or opponents, turn out to be really helpful and perhaps even indispensible to the purpose of the group.

Once Melanie had shared this idea, I suddenly felt like I was able to interpret the whole dream easily.  It was really remarkable how that one idea shifted my ability to interpret the dream.

I was thinking about how the large, opaque looking building (which superficially doesn't seem to fit with the values of Why This Way, which is all about openness and transparency) symbolizes what Why This Way could become, and that I have this sense that Why This Way is potentially a big deal, something potentially very large and powerful, but I don't really have a clear sense of exactly how or what it would look like in that state, nor do I have a clear idea of how to get there.  This seems to correspond to the fact that I couldn't find the door.  I also think that the part about the people rising from the dead who initially scared me, but turned out to be able to help me to find the door, symbolizes how other people, including people who may initially seem opposed to the group or who may initially strike me as a threat to the group, actually hold the key to figuring out the direction that the group needs to go in in order to achieve its full potential.  I really believe this, and I think this idea is actually one of the essential or defining features of Why This Way.

Why This Way is all about questioning everything about itself, and I think that in order to really live out this ideal, it necessitates a sometimes scary process of confronting things and viewpoints and people who voice those viewpoints, and really embracing them, letting them into the group, and letting them influence the group...giving them power over the group, kind of surrendering yourself to these viewpoints in a sense.  It's a bit scary.  I can identify this sort of fear, in fact, even today, with respect to certain things that have played out recently in the group.  Yet I feel like it's really a key thing for me to confront these fears and move past them.

I also find it interesting that the bulk of the dream focused around the wall.  I began on top of the wall, climbed down to the outside of the wall, and then later went inside the wall itself.  I think the wall can be interpreted as representing concepts like the distinction between Why This Way and other belief systems, and perhaps more specifically, how Why This Way deals with tension, discord, or dissent.

So...while Why This Way may go in other directions once we have figured out the "boundary" issues more clearly, I feel like the focal point of the group, for now, is clearly in the boundary.  It may always be this way.

Emphasis on the subjectivity of interpretations:

I want to emphasize that I believe firmly that dream interpretations are subjective.  I even wrote a page on Cazort.net a while ago on dream interpretation in which I emphasize and embrace the subjectivity of dream interpretation.  So the interpretation I gave above isn't necessarily about any deep meaning inherent in the dream itself...while I feel it's a deep interpretation, I feel like it's deep because I looked for the depth and found meaning in it.

Dream About Flying, Philadelphia

I had a weird dream last night.  It was long and complex, and I don't remember the beginning of it.

At one point in the dream, however, I was in a city.  The city was old and had brick and cobblestone streets, and lots of lush vegetation, old green trees, flowers, and vines climbing up over arbors.  Somehow I realized I could fly, and I started flying around in the streets of the city, up and over walls, and around and over buildings.  I initially didn't know how to control the flying very well, but I started getting better at it, and when I finally felt a little more confident with it (I still didn't have very fine control) I started flying up and up.

And I saw I was over Philadelphia.  In the dream, the center city part of Philadelphia was neatly walled in, and the wall was really high, higher than even the skyscrapers.  I flew up over the wall and was flying around.

In the dream, city hall was one of the tallest skyscrapers, but it was also in a state of ruin.  It was not like the other skyscrapers...it was more like an ancient building, like the pyramids in Egypt, all eroded and dusty but big and beautiful looking.

I was going to land on top of the city hall in order to join in a gathering of people up there.  The gathering was a group that was looking to revitalize the city hall and the city government.  It was a bit of a long-shot, a small group of people who had little clout or influence.  And it was a bit of a crazy idea, as the city hall was abandoned and in disrepair.

But I landed anyway.  There were about 5 of us.  One of them was a young Asian woman who was slightly chubby and had hair about a few inches above her shoulders.  I had a  small packet of matcha, the Japanese powdered green tea.  Other people also had packets of matcha, and we were going to brew them up and drink tea.  However, I realized that my container of matcha had somehow been broken open.  A good amount of it spilled out.  I struggled to gather up the remaining matcha so that it would not fall out, but I had nothing to close the container with.

I don't remember what happened from this point or how the dream ended.

This dream had some pretty clear symbolism in it.  I think that to some degree, the gathering is symbolic of Why This Way, because I feel like that group shares in common its small size of meetings, and the fact that I feel like it's a bit of a crazy idea and a long shot, but that I feel extraordinarily passionate about it at the same time.  I also think the city hall symbolizes how I feel about city governments in the U.S., that they are institutions from a much earlier era, and that they are not in a particularly good state--that they are neither as dynamic or modern or adept at solving problems as I would like them to be.  Yet they're also massive.

I had a weird dream last night.  In the dream, there were the three SEPTA regional rail stations in Philadelphia, as usual, along the east-west corridor, but the easternmost one was farther east, and it was not called Market East.  Instead, it was located in the middle of an industrial area along the river with some highways, train tracks, docks and shipyards, and really no commerce or walkable areas to speak of.  It was pretty impractical.

What's really fascinating is that the station itself was actually a station that has been in a previous dream, and I think, in the previous dream, it was definitely also a station on the east-coast corridor, and it may have been the Philadelphia AMTRAK station even.  The station was pretty crappy, but it was characterized by an open concrete platform, a highway overpass (which would be the Ben Franklin Bridge, although it looked crappier in the dream) the river, and the city on the other side...extensive tracks (multiple lanes of tracks) on each side of the platform, but just a single platform.  A crappy station!

And I was thinking about how the whole area was designed and how impractical it was, such bad design, the station was not located in a useful place at all.  This was interesting because this is how I feel about many cities' AMTRAK stations and other train stations (like many of the Red Line Rapid stations in Cleveland), but Philadelphia's train stations seem fairly well-situated.

The interesting thing about this dream, I was not actually in the station, I was climbing around on old industrial machinery.  It was sort of like something you might see in an Anime film, a large expanse of rusting metal apparatuses in a larger-than-life megalopolis, much bigger than Philadelphia is in real life.  And there I ran into one of my friends, Amanda, who is rather short.   And I started talking to her about how we both loved the old industrial scenery and loved climbing around on it and exploring it and taking pictures, and then she's like, Alex, do you realize, it's like, much more work for me to climb on this stuff because I'm so much shorter than you?", and I was like: "Yeah?  How so?" and she's like, well look, my legs are so much shorter, try walking up these steps taking two steps at once, that's how I feel when I go up these steps normally.  She was kinda exaggerating but it was interesting because I never had really thought about how it might be more effort for shorter people to go up steps, especially if the steps were rather tall / high ones.

And there was a strange guy hanging around and I could tell that Amanda wanted to get away from the guy, so we left, and the guy stayed behind...we were worried at first that he might follow but he did not.  And then Amanda was telling me about how she was so glad that she finally ditched that guy, that he had been hanging around her and she thinks he only went away because I came on the scene.  And then we went into a church, and the church put people up for the night, and apparently, Amanda had been staying in this church, and this guy had been too...and then Amanda got a bit paranoid that the guy had come back to this church...she wanted to make sure he wasn't here.  And we were looking around and didn't see him, but there was this bed strewn with books, and Amanda was like: "I want to make sure he's not hiding under all these books, that's the sort of thing he'd do, and in fact, I think he's done it before."

It was exceedingly weird.  But then I woke up.

Playing Oboe In My Dreams

I had a dream last night that I think signals some sort of mild anxiety or "in over my head" feeling.

In the dream, I had to play oboe in some ensemble...but I don't know how to play oboe at all, I don't think I've ever even handled one, not in real life, and not in the dream.  And I had this case with an oboe in it, and I was like, crap, I don't even know how to put it together.  So I got it together and I was trying to figure out how to put the reed in, and how to produce a sound out of the reed.  And I was like--trying to remember clarinet fingerings, because it was the only woodwind instrument I had ever played...and I only played it for a few months, years ago.  And I had absolutely no guidance or help, I was just struggling to do it all on my own.

And I just had this really strong feeling in the dream of like...being stretched to the very limits of my abilities, and clawing desperately for these memories at the fringes of my consciousness, not having anyone there to help me out, and trying desperately to wing it / fake it.  And on some level, there was this intense excitement at the challenge, a sort of exhilaration, that I was taking on a task that seemed absolutely impossible, to the point of being outright ridiculous.  The practice for the ensemble never started, and I woke up...but I was left with that feeling.

I had a kind of interesting insight, upon reflecting on this dream.  The insight was that, although I regularly am placed in situations like the one in this dream, in that, I have an immediate need to do something that I have never done before, and I have barely any experience with doing similar things...but I rarely experience that feeling of like, giving it my all, trying to dredge up every remote skill or memory or insight that might be useful...and I don't think I've experienced much of that excitement at attempting something that seems impossible, in quite some time.  So maybe I'm not going all-out in my life.

I think this means I have untapped potential.  Not to play the oboe (although, I think the oboe is powerly symbolic to me, as one of the oboists that I knew and played frequently with in the past picked up the instrument at age 40).  But...maybe I have more ability than I give myself credit for, doing the things in life that seem really tough for me.

Overall, the whole experience was really empowering, in an odd sort of way.
I had weird dreams last night. In one dream, I was visiting a building. It was actually the same building from a previous dream. In the previous dream, it had been connected directly to a subway station or underground transit station, and I had arrived to it by train, and then climbed by stairway to an entrance on the 2nd or 3rd floor...

In this dream I drove to the building and parked in a lot; the lot had free parking after a certain hour, and I was well past this hour so I didn't worry about parking. The building housed a library, which was apparently part of the campus of Bryn Athyn College. The rest of the building had a dining area and I think a bookstore and other semi-public spaces.

For some reason, I really wanted to go THROUGH the library and into the other spaces of the building. I had the idea that it would be difficult and perhaps impossible, but I wanted to try to do so, because I liked the idea of buildings being open and connected in different ways. I think in some senses, this is actually a metaphor for how I think about life in general, I like things to be connected and integrated and I am willing to put out considerable effort to bridge gaps between things that might not seem related or connected to other people. But it's also directly true in my real life--I like buildings to be fully connected so you can easily travel between different parts of them.

I went into the library...it had an automated entry gate and you had to put an ID in a slot. I pulled out a student ID I had for Bryn Athyn College. In the dream, I was a student there, even though I had already graduated Yale, UD, and Oberlin, like in real life. In the dream, having the active ID at Bryn Athyn gave me a sense of pride that I didn't feel about the other three schools. The slot was old-fashioned and I remember thinking that they were using outdated, archaic technology, and that most schools would use smart cards. However, I kinda liked the throwback technology. I think this is also symbolic of the New Church community in Bryn Athyn, PA, which is very archaic and old-fashioned in some ways, but still very functional.

The machine then printed out a parking ticket receipt, so that I could get free parking in the lot. I remember thinking that I didn't need it, and liking that. I think this is symbolic of the fact that in Philadelphia, I have found the little details of getting around to be abundant...I have a parking lot for my car, parking in west philly is easy, I can walk everywhere so I don't really need the car, public transit runs very frequently, etc.

I then walked past an area that had lots of office equipment...everything from staplers supplies like paper, clips, tape, to scissors, all sorts of other random things. I remember feeling a sense of comfort and security at having access to these resources. I think this highlights the security that I feel when being part of a larger organization, and my desire for and comfort in communal resources, something that I do not get to enjoy while being self-employed.

I then walked to a main entrance to the library and an information desk...where I asked the people at the desk if it was possible to go through to the other part of the building. I received a bunch of different answers, including some negative ones--"You can't do that." But I was somewhat persistent and expressed that I really wanted to go through to the other part of the building. One person said: "You used to be able to go through, but it has been sealed off." I then said something to the effect of: "I want to at least see the area where it has been sealed off, can you take me there, as far as it's possible to go, so I can at least see it?"

I think this exchange symbolizes an experience that I often have in life. Often, when I express something I want to accomplish, or some sort of change I want to effect in society or in an organization, people will initially express negative sentiments: "You can't do that". However, when I'm persistent in expressing what I want, people often agree to help me to the degree that they can. Often, people can think of ways of "going part of the way" or getting me closer to my goal, even if they still believe that the goal itself is impossible. If I ask people to help me as much as they are able, often I'm able to go the rest of the way on my own.

So the dream proceeded...one of the guys working the desk in the library led me back through the library and he explained to me that there actually was one way to get into the other part of the library, but it was somewhat difficult and involved some climbing. I was kinda excited, as I like climbing things and I feel relatively comfortable with my ability to climb things. He then showed me a strange ...I don't know how to describe it. It was like a big chute with a funny sort of textured thing made of carpet, with strange rungs attached to it at various increments. It wasn't immediately intuitive to me how to climb it, but he showed me where to place your feet, climbed down a few feet, and then back up. He said that this would lead me down into the dining hall. I think this is also symbolic as dining halls are a place in my life that I tend to love very much, a source of great joy and a feeling of belonging, and it symbolizes a goal or what I want out of life.

There were a group of four older people who shouldered their way ahead of me while I was thinking about climbing down, and they situated themselves at the top. But they seemed hesitant. They kept delaying, and were blocking the entrance to the downward thingy. They were discussing how they weren't physically fit enough to climb down, but they didn't move and they just kept hanging out, blocking the top. It was starting to annoy me slightly, but I decided that rather than be annoyed, I would just ask them if they could move so that I could climb down, so I politely told them that I'd like to climb down, and that if they didn't want to climb down immediately, I would prefer to go first. They responded by immediately saying that they did not intend to climb down, and they cleared out of the way. I think this part is also symbolic, as it's a struggle I've been having lately about being assertive and direct, speaking up immediately rather than letting myself be annoyed and saying nothing.

Lastly, I was ready to climb down, but I thought for a second about whether or not I was wearing the best shoes to climb down. I was wearing a black pair of sneakers with soccer cleats on them. I thought of changing shoes (I had at least one other pair in my bag--this is probably because, now that I dance so much, I often carry an extra pair of shoes for dancing, and with the crazy rain lately I had been carrying an extra pair too in case mine got wet). But I decided that the shoes I had on were actually the best shoes with which to climb down in. I think that this symbolizes intuition, how our default approach or intuition is often the best way to approach a problem or approach life in general: it's good to think through all available options and think creatively, but much of the time it's best to trust our hunches and proceed naturally.

Someone, another guy who hadn't been present earlier, was wanting to join me to climb down with me. I was happy about this. I was looking at my shoes though and I noticed something about them...they were black but they had a red, white, and blue area around the laces and tongue. I also noticed a very subtly, almost disguised Obama logo, which occurred twice, once at the front of the shoe near the toe, and once at the top of the tongue. This surprised me and I remembered having a lot of different reactions. It was funny, because I hadn't noticed it, and the way it was disguised was humorous. It was artistic, as it showed artful design. But I also was somewhat unhappy with it, because, although I did vote for Obama, I do not feel like I unilaterally support Obama and I would not necessarily always want to be advertising support for Obama on my shoes. I also found additional humor in the fact that the aesthetic of the shoes (which I can't describe easily) seemed more like the sort of thing that African-American men would wear than what white men would wear, and I made a mental note that this was perhaps deliberate marketing by the makers of the shoe, to appeal to a black audience who would be proud and more likely to sport an Obama logo. I was thinking about how I loved the aesthetic in general that black people in America seem to embrace (musically, visually, etc) and I was proud to wear the shoes to express this aesthetic, but had reservations about the political logo. I think this whole thought process was also deeply symbolic:

I think that it symbolizes the way I feel about black culture in America, and Obama. I love black culture and I feel like black people have contributed very richly to musical, artistic, and intellectual tradition in the U.S. And I like a lot of what Obama stands for, and am also happy that we finally were progressive enough to elect a black president. But I do not like the marketing and branding aspect of politics, and I think there is a large degree to which Obama succeeded not because he was a good candidate, and not because America was "ready" for a black president, but rather, because Obama's campaign was marketed in the right way, it had a catchy logo, a catchy slogan, good rhetoric. And this makes me uneasy with Obama. I want to support a good candidate but I don't want to support marketing or support politics which is driven by marketing.

I also think I had this dream because I'm thinking extensively of branding and marketing with respect to my tea site,
RateTea.net, and I'm currently having the same struggle: I want the site to focus on quality content, accuracy of information, functionality. And I've made the site very high-quality with respect to these measures. Yet it's not taking off as much as I would imagine, and I see a lot of other sites which are much sloppier which are succeeding. People seem to fairly consistently give me the feedback that the site looks unprofessional or the design or look and feel strikes them as poor. So I'm forced to put more energy or effort into presentation or branding. I think on some level I feel a bit ambivalent about this. I want people to like the site and use the site, and I do want the site to look good. But I want people to like the site because it is an accurate source of information, a reliable resource, not because it looks good. I think on some level I harbor some resentment and frustration towards people in general for looking at appearances rather than looking deeper...which is the whole point of the site, the whole point of RateTea.net is to get people thinking about and paying attention to how their tea tastes, and learning about how their tea is produced, rather than just be sucked in by branding and marketing. As someone who believes deeply that the ends do not justify the means, I think I have this deep, intuitive, gut-level sense of uneasiness with the idea of using branding to defeat branding.

The dream ended there...I did not get to descend, I did not get to see or feel how difficult it was, and I did not get to see what was at the bottom. I think this is symbolic of where I am in my life. I think that I have not yet truly embarked on the biggest projects that I am going to undertake during my life. I don't really know how difficult they will be, I do not know if I will succeed or fail, and I don't really know what "success" will look like if I do succeed...nor do I know if I will lose something valuable in the process (symbolized by the fact that the "task" in the dream was climbing down a very steep incline which could cause serious injury if one fell). But I guess that's what life is about, right?


Weird Dreams

After not remembering that many dreams for a while, last night was loaded with bizarre dreams.

I don't remember all of them, but there was one in which I was walking out on this wooden walkway that went way out into some shallow water along the coast...and there was a small house built into the walkway, it was very small, and I was talking to some people about living in the house, about how one could support oneself living out here, and how often one would need to travel back to land.

And then when I went out of the house again it was on a dense street in a city.

I had another dream, later, in which I was in high school, and I had been excused from classes for a day to be in rehearsal for this big play, but I was no longer in the play so I got a day off, and others were like--"Wow, how did you manage that one? Lucky you." But then, the play came around and at the last minute I was included in the play, even though I hadn't been to any of the rehearsals. And the cast were like: "Don't worry, it's all improv anyway, and we're all really good at improv. You don't really need to know what's going on, but if you feel moved to participate, just do so."

It seemed a little odd, but I went on stage. And I looked around and the rest of the cast were all these theatre people that I wasn't 100% comfy with and who were a bit alien to me, but I felt comfortable on stage and comfortable with myself so I just took a place on the stage.

I don't remember exactly how the dream ended, it got a bit blurry.

There were other earlier dreams that I don't remember at all.


I had a really long and somewhat epic dream last night. In it, I was in some gathering in some very large, indoor room...and there was something going on that had safety netting underneath it, to catch people if they fell. I remember climbing around on the edge of the netting...it was a bit scary because it was so high up, but it was solidly constructed.

Everyone started leaving, and it was very busy and crowded. People had to walk down many, many flights of stars (perhaps 50 or so?) to exit the building because we were so high up. Someone I knew took me aside and said that they knew a quicker way out. They took me to a small tower that had a spiral staircase, and it went up. I started climbing, but after a couple flights of stairs up I asked where we were going.

The person said: "When we get to the top of this tower, there is a lamb, and if you stand on the lamb, you will be teleported to the lobby of the building. It's a lot quicker than climbing down." And then I said: "But it's harder, we're having to climb up so many flights of stairs. How many are left anyway?" and he said: "I'm not sure, I think about 13." It seemed like a lot, and it honestly didn't sound much easier than just going down and out like everyone else, but I was very curious about the teleportation, so I decided to climb anyway. The stairs were somewhat narrow and a little slippery, and there was just an empty area in the middle of the tower, which was quite treacherous...and that alone would have made me nervous, but there was a solid railing around the edge of the room, and that made me feel secure in climbing.

After going up for quite some time, I noticed that under each step was a drawer that could be pulled out. I started opening them, out of curiosity. Many were empty, but some contained all varieties of strange and mysterious objects. My friend Mickey was there, and he found a small vial in one of the drawers. The person I was with advised him to drink it, but warned that it might taste strange. I told Mickey that I did not think he should drink it. He drank it, and he said it tasted horrible. He then said he felt ill, and decided to go down the stairs and go out with everyone else, instead of continue onward.

We got to the top and were almost at the top, and the steps spaced out farther, making the drawers in them much larger. My friend continued to the top but I was fascinated by what I had found in one of the drawers: two broken violins. Both were made of a strange wood that had a sort of marbled pattern, and both were broken off, and had only the half from the bridge up: one had an intact bridge, and the other was missing the bridge, but neither had a bottom. There was also a bow, which had the top half (the half farther from where you hold the bow) broken off. The bow had half its hair, and was frayed openly, but there were no strings on the violins. I found this very strange and fascinating. I examined them...but both violins seemed really cheaply made. But I didn't think to examine the bow closely. I placed everything back in the drawer and closed it.

The order of events is a bit fuzzy in this part of the dream, so it may be out of order.

I then went to the top. "The lamb" was not a live lamb, but rather, a painted pattern of a lamb in a circle in the interior of the room, at the very center of the top of the tower. My friend stood to the side. To the other side, there was an older woman dressed in interesting robes. She took a tape measure, and began measuring me. She said that she was going to make an article of clothing for me, but did not tell me what it was. She measured my left arm and some measurements around my head and neck. I then stood on the lamb and appeared at the entrance of the building, and walked out.

In the dream, I woke up. But I was still dreaming. I realized that I wanted to go back to sleep to continue the dream because I realized that I had missed something; I had closely examined the violins, but not the bow. So I went back to sleep, and I found myself climbing up the tower again. This time I got to the drawer, and I opened it, and the half-violins and half-bow were there, just like before...but this time I looked closely at the bow. It had an unusual construction, with two seams in the wood. I noticed that the wood between the seams looked somehow special, and then I realized that this section of the bow could be separated from the rest. I took it out, and it was a magic wand. I knew it contained immense power, but I didn't know what or why, so I placed it in my pocket, and placed the violins and the remainder of the bow back in the door. Then I went to the top and stood on the lamb and was teleported again.

But now I was in a room with a bunch of people, having some sort of lively party. It was a group of people I was familiar and close with. Suddenly, a group of people burst in the door and were threatening us. They started to use some sort of magical powers. I realized that I had the wand, and wanted to protect us against them. I wasn't quite sure what to do. I pointed the wand at the people and tried to zap them, but it didn't do much of anything. I then realized that maybe the wand was meant to be used in a defensive way. I then waved the wand in a circle around the group of people, and out of the wand a strange fabric appeared, glowing bluish white, and surrounded us all, but there was a hole in it and the people threatening us could get through the hole...and at the edge of the fabric I saw a place to wrap my arms in, and I realized why the person had taken my measurements, that this was the piece of clothing I was supposed to wear...so I wrapped my arms in it and was able to close the hole in the fabric, with my head being the last thing visible, and then, we were all safe.

And then I woke up for real.