I’m at some Jewish youth event. (Maybe I’m a youth?) I took off my jeans and wallet and put it somewhere, we are in the city. Then when I come back for them, I can’t find them. I ask a couple of the organizers. I get mad and say they should have watched things more carefully. Someone tells me it’s the city and what did you expect? I hear myself whining and complaining and I don’t like the way that feels. Then a guy is hugging me and saying that I won’t be able to get
my pants back, they are lost and there’s nothing to do about it. He’s also hugging a teenage girl with his other arm. She is also distressed. I feel he is right and that I need to stop whining.
Decades ago when I was teaching there was some left-right controversy and a right wing student caught up in it did a cartoon where he characterized me as whining. And I couldn’t believe it, me, whining? Me? And I whined about it!
But now I understand that whining, kvetching, complaining is a reaction, and it is how we spritz our bad feeling around. Here in this dream, I do hear it. That’s new. I am caught in the act – by me. And I believe this opening of awareness in me, -- hearing the whining in my voice-- allows the man can come and comfort me .. if you want to call it comfort. Because what he says is, THAT’S THE WAY IT IS. You
lost your “wallet”—your i.d., you lost your pants—you must now walk in the world naked… and you aren’t getting them back. You are with me now.
Everyone says they want to be with him, or He Himself as one of my clients calls him, and I don’t know what to call him. Or would we rather just complain? I think the Jewish wisdom was that God doesn’t have a name we can pronounce, and so the word “God” itself is also very unsatisfactory. As soon as it’s a word, it’s a concept, it’s a thing, and then next thing you know we are carrying it around in our pocket, or wearing it around our neck as jewelry, and God knows what
else. The actual Hebrew word is a combination of letters of y’ and h’ and w’ and h’ y’h’w’h’ that can’t really be pronounced together, except maybe like a breath, not a name you can put your finger on. It not only shouldn’t’ be pronounced, it actually can’t be anyway. But we
But then again, the whole reality of dream work is we have these experiences of relationship , and they are so powerful and refreshing.
The arm around the shoulder. The voice of comfort. It is so vivid, so complete and actual. It is not about words or lofty spiritual concepts. It is the lowly and absurd, a man with no pants who gets an arm around his shoulder, that simple connection—that absurdity-=- is also part of the holy connection. I can’t put a name on it, it’s felt.
I grew up in a Jewish family that wasn’t very observant, but on my father’s side we had a very strong grandfather and grandmother who believed in family and bringing us all together and that was the piece of Jewish life that has guided me.. the warmth and the love of people that grew out of immigrant experience. The sense of a big family to belong to. But the downside of it was that it was a very
centripetal world. It was our family I trusted.. and venturing out from that to a larger world is not always easy. So Jewish for me number one is not about religion— and maybe non-tribal people don't get that. It's like being a Sioux except you have this big book to lug around that goes with it. It’s about being in a group, a family, a
Then for me “Judaism” – which is simply the religion of the Jewish people—was mainly the experience as an adolescent, like the “Jewish youth” in the dream. Being in a group with other young people, learning very good things like learning about writing poetry, about helping others as a tutor, joing the civil rights movement—I actually marched with SNCC when I was fifteen from Baltimore to Washington--
all of that was part of the awakening I had at that time of Jewish youth, age 15. And now I see I was awakening to my soul but poor thing I didn’t know it in that way. Dreams also even then began to beimportant to me.
And there was a little talk about God in the synagogue but never at home. There were no rituals at home either. And God was nothing to take too seriously. Yet somehow the questions about God still hooked into me, but in a very transcendental way that God is presented as
“goodness, mercy”.. as “light” & in a way, nothing personal. And wondering what my relationship to that is. So the dreamwork has brought the personal dimension in.
Then waking up and realizing I have no pants. I have no actual guaranteed understanding of my life, of the world. I have no status. I have to walk out now without pants. In many dreams I’ve been without pants and always the issue was shame or embarrassment. But here it is not that. It is just the stinging pain of loss, and the desire to regain. And here I feel my protest, my whining.. is not adequate. It
is just not to the point. And hearing that is the opening. He comes to me, and comforts me like a friend who puts his arm around me and tellsme the truth. I can hear it finally. I’ve lost them & I’m not getting them back. To hear that from him is to learn an acceptance of what it
means to be on this path.
I know what precipitated this dream is what I would call staring into emptiness. I am at that phase of my life. I’ve been dropped off. I am retired. I don’t need a wallet. I have all I need. Now what? The emptiness is, first of all, all I’ve done in the past is behind me.
There are more years behind me than ahead of me.
And the question that burns is: what is it I can do that is truly of my soul, that is mine and not someone else’s? Because it feels like everything I’ve ever done was just borrowed from someone else and I came along for the ride. So when I am in this feeling it is very dark and when I react to it, I try to make a claim that if I add something
of my own to somebody else’s stuff I can make something new.
Like there ‘s an impulse I have sometimes to write a poem, but then I start thinking, I’ll read this source and that source, and learn this and that, and the next thing you know I’m not writing a poem, I’m doing research in a book.
A lot of this has to do with my pain in knowing I am just a student of this work. And trying to compensate for that. What me a student? Yes I am literally Marc’s student as he tutors me to be a therapist, and I’m a student of my client’s work, and a student of my dreams which sometimes tell me about the work I am doing with my clients. So I have no pants.
When I feel the sting of , “there’s nothing of me in it”, that’s my wallet is lost. And when I hear myself “whining” about it... it’s great because I know , no more whining. No whining allowed. I just have to go to him without my pants and wallet, to get his arm around my shoulder and hear him say, Yes, it’s lost, and there’s nothing you can do about it, that’s the way it is.
That’s the way it is.