by Haviva Ner-David
Part III of excerpts from Rabbi Ner-David’s book, Dreaming Against the Current
I AM A tour guide for a large synagogue group visiting Israel, getting on and off buses. I leave my shoes somewhere and can’t find them. I keep looking—under all the seats in the bus, on the seats, but I still can’t find them. I am panicked. I cannot walk without them, as they have my dictuses attached. A woman starts coughing. She is choking on something. She can’t breathe. I try to help her, but I can’t.
I wake up from this dream short of breath. Jacob is away. I can’t breathe. I am coughing, hyperventilating. I gasp for air, but I can’t get enough. I try to calm myself, and after a few minutes, I can breathe more easily again. But this incident worries me. I have never had trouble breathing, but I know that as my disease progresses, it can spread to the respiratory system.
I make an appointment to check my breathing, and, alas, my diaphragm is showing signs of weakness. It is only a matter of time before I will need to use a BiPAP ventilator. Until even that won’t help anymore. The bombs are starting to fall.
I work my dream with a dreamwork partner who studied with Jude when I did. “Be the synagogue group,” she says.
Studying dreamwork for several months has accustomed me to this method of dream analysis. Each element of the dream is another aspect of the dreamer’s unconscious, while the dreamer’s character in the dream is usually the ego, the least wise of all the elements in the dream.
To understand the dream’s message, or meaning, the dreamer must speak from the dream elements (for example: a character in the dream other than the “dreamer,” an animal, an inanimate object, a natural element), or sometimes even from a feeling in the dream, the weather or a word or phrase someone says. Every element in our dreams is a piece of our unconscious. I am not surprised I am being asked to speak as the synagogue group.
“We are a group touring Israel. This is not the way we really want to see this place, getting on and off buses. We would prefer a slower pace, where we could really experience life here, not like onlookers, but from the inside.” Me, experiencing life fully, with my guard down.
“Thank you, tourists. I’d like to speak to the dictuses now.”
“We are the dreamer’s dictuses. We help her walk. We help her get around. Without us she would trip and fall. Without us she needs to be more sedentary, slow down, take her time, and be at peace with what she can do without help. Without us she needs to surrender to what is.”
“The dreamer feels helpless without you. Is there something you would like to tell her?”
“Yes. She is not helpless without us. She just can’t do more than is humanly possible for her. And that is okay. She needs to learn to live with that. In fact, if she does that now, it will help her ease into death, when that comes. After all, even aids like us are only a temporary solution. Eventually, even we won’t be enough.”
“Is that why you disappeared? To teach her that?”
“That’s pretty harsh.”
“Perhaps. But that’s the way it is. Life is harsh, but it would feel less so if the dreamer stopped trying to fight it. She can stop looking now. She can just rest.”