Skip to main content

the dressing room dream

rack of dresses by airinisbomb
image from airinisbomb.deviantart.com

A week ago I had one of those dreams. You know, the kind that sticks with you for hours after you wake up and, like a C. S. Lewis masterpiece, pierces you with its truth and vivid images. This is what I dreamed: 



I was in a dressing room in a fashionable and rather expensive clothing store. I tried on several beautiful dresses; some I liked more than others. I wasn't really thinking about buying a dress that day but I thought there was no harm in trying on a few. The salesperson did her job well, bringing me numerous outfits, all quite interesting and lovely, so I just kept trying them on. The last item she brought me was a pair of shorts which were priced over $400. At that point I made a decision: I was not going to pay that much for a pair of shorts so there was no point in trying them on, no matter how nice they were.

After I made that decision, I suddenly noticed several things around me that I had not been aware of before. First, there was a small kitten sitting in the dressing room. It was a bit on the skinny side and seemed quite lethargic. Apparently it had not been fed for quite some time. Second, a person called out to me, reminding me that I had documents that needed signing and work that was waiting for me in my office. Third, I realized that days had gone by while I was in the dressing room trying on pretty clothes. I said, "I've kind of made my home here." Then I left the dressing room, fed the kitten and got to work.

Let me provide some background: We have been considering moving from our lovely condo to a place perhaps a bit bigger and a bit closer to downtown. With those two features come a substantial jump in price, so for the past few months I have been researching properties a fair bit and we even visited a few open houses, trying to find something in our price range. This dream brought me up short. In a good way. It made me aware that I was starting to get really at home in a sort of fantasy-land, a place where I dreamed about what could be, where I tried on lovely things just to see what it would feel like, where I let myself pretend for just a moment that I lived in a new, modern loft, that it was all real, even though it was beyond my means. The titillating world of "trying-on" can become so mesmerizing that we end up neglecting our responsibilities in the real world. We forget to care for the people and the things we love. We forget about the work that has been entrusted to us. We forget about the real and the mundane because the unreal and the fantastical feels better. But this is a dangerous place to make our home. It is the breeding ground for addiction and escapism.

I love my imagination and my research abilities; reading and writing projects can transport me to worlds that beg to be explored. However, they are not usually places where I learn the difficult skills of selfless love, of generosity, of service and sacrifice and humility. The dressing room of fantasy requires nothing of me. It allows me to float above everything real as if it doesn't matter, and that is a lie. The mundane tasks matter to someone. Whether or not I pay the bills or wash the clothes or feed the cat or answer the phone matter to someone. Whether I buy a new house or not matters very little. What matters is whether I am hospitable in my present home, whether I speak kindly to my present neighbours, and whether love and laughter and gratitude live here now, no matter how small or inconvenient the place might seem.

Time to get out of the dressing room, put on some work clothes, and joyfully engage in the life I now have.

Comments

Shelley said…
Our pastor, on Sunday, asked the question "how many of you are on the front lines of your own life?"
I think he meant it as an 'of course you are' kind of statement to lead into his next point. When he asked it, only 2-3 people put up their hands, adn so he asked everyone to participate a bit more for him! I thought though that the minimal response just might have been fairly accurate. So many of us in our culture of avoidance and distraction actually are not 'on the front lines' of our life. As you describe from your dream, a lot of us are hiding in a dressing room somewhere.

Popular posts from this blog

what binds us together?

For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book by famed psychiatrist M. Scott Peck which chronicles his travels (together with his wife) through remote parts of the UK in search of prehistoric stones. The book is part travel journal, part spiritual musings, part psychology, and part personal anecdotes. A mixed bag, to be sure, and not always a winning combination. At one point, I considered putting the book aside, not finishing it, but then Peck started writing about community. He is no stranger to the concept. He has led hundreds of community-building workshops over the years, helped start a non-profit organisation dedicated to fostering community, and written a compelling book about the topic, one which greatly impacted me when I read it oh so long ago.[1]

In preparation for a course I am teaching next year, I have been doing quite a bit of study on unity and community. Once you start thinking about it, you see and hear evidence of it everywhere. (See my blog on the impact of b…

job hunting

I am on the hunt for a job. PhD in hand, I am a theologian for hire. The thing is, not a lot of places are hiring theologians these days, and if they are, they are usually looking for scholars with skills and experience outside my area of expertise. Today I found job opportunities for those knowledgeable in Religion, Race, and Colonialism, Philosophy and History of Religion, Islam and Society, Languages of Late Antiquity, Religion, Ethics, and Politics, and an ad for a Molecular Genetic Pathologist. Not one posting for a Dramatic Theologian with  a side order of Spirituality and a dash of Methodology.

I know, I know. My expectations are a bit unrealistic if I believe I will find an exact match for my particular skills. I know that job descriptions are wish lists to some extent, so no candidate is ever a perfect match. I also realize that one must adapt one's skill set according to the requirements of the job and be flexible. But there are so few jobs which come within ten or even…

lessons from a theological memoir and a television series about lawyers

It's a hot Wednesday afternoon, so let's talk about false binaries. Basically, a false binary or false dichotomy happens when a person's options are artificially limited to two choices, thereby excluding all other possibilities. Insisting on the limited choice of either A or B leaves no room for middle ground or another, more creative solution. In other words, a false binary assumes the rest of the alphabet (after A and B) does not exist.

Binary thinking is quite prevalent in our society. Either you are for me or against me. Either you are guilty or innocent. Either you are a Democrat or a Republican, conservative or liberal. Either you are a Christian or a pagan. Either you are all in or all out. Admittedly, it is convenient to see things as either black or white, but we live in a multi-coloured world and not everything fits neatly into two categories. This is why insisting there are only two choices when, in fact, other options exist, is labeled as a fallacy in logic an…