Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is No Puss 'n' Boots

Six days on the road and I'm a gonna make it home tonight. ~ Dave Dudley

I'm sitting here, six days away from taking board exams, and last night I dreamed I was walking through a relative's back yard when I noticed a shadow in the trees above me. I looked up and saw a tiger, growling, about to pounce on me. At first, I wasn't sure whether to be afraid or to try to reason with it, but when it landed in front of me and bared it's teeth, my limbic system (the portion of the brain that processes emotion) told me this was definitely no ordinary house cat.

It grabbed hold of my right hand and yet, somehow, I managed to drag the two of us toward the open patio door, hoping those within would hear me shouting, "Call 911!" At that point, the tiger let go of me and charged inside, attacking my cousin. I followed, attempting to intervene, and was grateful to see my "friend," actor Joachin Phoenix, ready to come to our aid. What he was doing in my dream, I have no idea, but together we drove the cat back out the door.

My initial impression of this dream is, I'm not as anxious about facing the "tiger" this year as I was last June, but I still have a healthy respect for it. Furthermore, I'm better prepared, as indicated by the fact that I was aware of the tiger before it was literally on top of me. This time, I've gotten help from friends and a coach to identify strengths and weaknesses, so I'm able to keep my wits about me when the attack comes.

I suppose one could interpret the tiger as representing fear, in which case the message of the dream is, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear can be plenty formidable, so whether the tiger is the exam or the emotion it can generate, the outcome is pretty much the same. The important thing is I came out of the encounter with my hand (I'm right-handed, so this symbolizes capability) intact and able to act on behalf of someone else.

All in all, I think this means I'm in a good space where next Tuesday is concerned. I still have topics to cover, practice questions to do, and sleep to try to get, but things look more positive than they did a year ago. Tigers like mine aren't the petting kind and only a fool would treat one of them as though it was Puss 'n' Boots. Still, from the dream imagery, it looks like I'm not going to get eaten alive, and that feels really good. Makes me think of the limerick, "There once was a lady from Niger, who smiled as she rode on a tiger. They came back from a ride with the lady inside, and a smile on the face of the tiger." Not me, I hope, at least not this time.

(Creative Commons image of Puss in Boots by Dyak via Flickr; Six Days on the Road, by Carl Montgomery and Earl Green, recorded by Dave Dudley, copyright 1963)
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