Dream of: 17 February 1990 "Self-Help"

I was walking with two women through the streets of a large Latin American city, perhaps Mexico City, Mexico. I didn't know the women well (perhaps I had only recently met them). They spoke of going to a nearby plaza, and as I looked around, I realized we were coming to an area where many large interesting sculptures were sitting out in the open for viewing.


The two women and I had sat down on a couch which seemed to be outside on the street. The women were having what sounded like an interesting conversation, and I wanted to join in, but I felt awkward and afraid I wouldn't know what to say. Besides, although I found one woman quite attractive, I was afraid she wasn't attracted to me. I said something to her anyway, and we talked about music. I told her I particularly liked the saxophone and she agreed she did also. She said she liked to hear it better "soso" than "tenor." I was uncertain what "soso" meant, but I thought it was lower than tenor. However I didn't reply to that thought, fearing I would expose my ignorance. Instead I said I didn't like big bands but preferred ensembles. As soon as I said "ensembles" I wondered if that was the right word. The word had just come to mind and I thought it meant a small group of musicians, but I was uncertain. She immediately responded she liked big bands, and she seemed surprised (but not annoyed) that I didn't.


My wife Carolina and I were in a room in what was apparently a rather large hotel. I seemed to have been earlier involved in a group encounter session with several other people who had sat around talking with each other, but now I had returned to Carolina.

I heard someone at the door and a man walked in. He apparently was the person coordinating the group in which I had been. He said I was now needed to go with other members in my group into another room where we would give some advice to a young woman who had been in another group. I left with him, and Carolina stayed in the room.

The man and I entered another room which contained a long table with five or six men sitting around it. One man appeared to be my old friend Steve Weinstein. I sat down near one end of the table. We were told that when the young woman was brought in, we were supposed to talk briefly to her, and hopefully tell her of some book which she could read which might help her.

Into the room stepped the woman, dressed in a blue dress which seemed to sport a red-flower design. The woman had black hair and a shapely figure. She sat down at the other end of the table so two or three men were between us -- I had to scoot my chair back so I could see her better. Her face was puffed up and streaked with tears. I figured she had had such a bad time in her encounter group that now she could only cry.

One at a time the other men spoke and tried to console her. They spoke of different books, most of which seemed to be of a self-help nature. I sat quietly (but a bit impatiently) and listened. I really didn't know what to say to the woman. I thought I would begin by telling her I thought she was attractive, but I was uncertain I actually did find her attractive. Sometimes I would look at her and she would seem pretty. Other times she would seem very plain. I thought it would probably still be good for her morale if I told her I was attracted to her, especially since no one else had mentioned anything like that.

I thought about what book I would recommend to her. I didn't want to recommend some self-help book. I thought something more substantial would be more appropriate. Walden by Henry David Thoreau would probably be a good choice for her.

Other ideas rapidly passed through my mind. It seemed that she needed to be independent, and that she especially needed to have self-confidence. Obviously she needed to change. As I thought about how a person changes, however, I realized I knew little about the subject of change. It suddenly occurred to me that change wasn't something which happened gradually, but which happened all at once. If change actually occurred, then a person immediately became someone new, and the old person no longer existed.

It seemed everyone but I had spoken -- yet the others continued talking. I finally stood and walked to the other end of the table across from the woman. Now she finally spoke. Her poor grammar and pronunciation revealed she was uneducated. She spoke of her unhappy life. She was only 16 years old and both her parents were in prison. I thought and I wondered why this person couldn't just simply suddenly become a new person and leave the old confining life behind. It didn't seem impossible to me, but I didn't know how to show her to do it. I wanted to say something to her, but I didn't know what to say. So I quickly and quietly turned and walked out the door.

I headed down the hall, wanting to return to Carolina. Just as I entered the room, I could hear the fellow who had come for me earlier call out my name. I knew he wanted me to return and I thought he sounded apologetic because I hadn't been given a chance to speak.

I thought I might go back, but if I did, I wanted to take Carolina with me. I liked having her with me and I thought she could either participate, or she could just sit beside me and watch. There was no reason why she couldn't be there too.

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