I had the following dream the other night (April 28, 2014):
I am in a large house and baking a wedding cake. For some reason, it is the day of the wedding and I and my crew have prepared all the other food at the wedding reception, but the cake is not yet done. As I struggle with finishing it, and failing, the bride and groom grow increasingly angry at me. Eventually, I have a sheet of cake finished with a layer of pineapple and with cream cheese frosting, but it’s not typical tiered wedding cake. There is not enough for all the guests to have some and it is a big failure.
I feel angry and ashamed at having failed so miserably. Throughout the dream, I feel dread and anxiety over finishing the cake and cannot figure out why I am so behind.
I’ve been thinking about this dream since yesterday. The feelings are clear – anxious, full of dread and shame, not wanting to confront the bride and groom who are (understandably) furious with me. Especially since the rest of the meal has been good. And then when I finally get some cake to them, it’s certainly not enough. I have failed and am a failure.
There are some elements that feel familiar to me – I am in a home setting, although I don’t think it is my home, but perhaps the home of either the bride or groom or one of their relatives.
Brides and grooms represent, to me, the promise of the future and the coming together of two individuals into a new family. Usually homes represent to me the ‘self’ and to the extent that the home is shabby or nice, has many rooms or few, these are aspects of my ‘self’ that I am aware of or am exploring.
So with all that analysis – what do I make of this dream? Ultimately, it just seems to be an anxiety dream and even though the setting (a wedding) and my role in it (I’m the maker of the food that is shared between the bride and groom and their guests) might be unique (at least I think it is), I’ve had many dreams of anxiety, of the sense of not doing something, of being late, of being exposed and of feeling like a failure.
The one unique aspect of the dream that I focused on over and over (in the dream state) is the cake, what type it is, why I am having such trouble getting the ingredients and putting them together and so on. I am not sure, but suspect, that the detail of the pineapple and cream cheese frosting (delicious as it sounds!) may be worth exploring, but I don’t really have any big associations with it, except yep, it sounds pretty good. It also sounds pretty healthy in a relative sense. Perhaps the main part of the cake is a carrot cake. That could certainly be likely.
Just to make sure I wasn’t missing any traditional associations, Wikipedia supplied that wedding cake normally symbolizes fertility and good luck. Again, that makes a level of sense – and if I just focus on good luck as part of it, my inability or failure to produce the cake or enough cake might mean limiting the good luck of the couple or my self.
One of the aspects of being newly retired is the issue of – so what do I do now? Is it okay to spend the day reading blog posts by others? Is it okay to just play games on facebook? Shouldn’t I be planning a trip? Shouldn’t I be trying to find a volunteer position in the community? How long before I can’t do the things I want to do?
I feel anxious just writing that last paragraph.
Perhaps that is the crux of the cake! – I am in a new relationship with myself and my sense of ‘self’. No, there is no ritual to commemorate this new way of being, that of an elder, a sage, a crone. At least not in our culture. And I have felt that I have failed my self, have not been in alignment or authenticity with my deepest values, for a long time. I am, like many people in my age range, realizing with a start – I have limited time. This is it.
One other detail, perhaps irrelevant or not, about this. We received a phone call from my 83-year-old dad who lives in Florida on Monday. He’s had a lot of health issues stemming from a lifetime of smoking – COPD, heart issues with an ejection fraction “incompatible with human life” (said by a nurse friend of mine), and just knowing he’s getting weaker.
But he’s a man with a tremendous will to live. So he’s excited with the possibility of treatment using his own stem cells. It’s highly experimental and expensive and he might not be a good candidate after all (he sent off his records to the doctors for their review.) But it was like he wanted us to give our permission and our blessing for him to spend a lot of money in exchange for – what? A few more years? A few more good years? We don’t know what the exchange would even be at this point. It might not be worth it to him.
Eventually I said to him, “Dad, first they have to say yes to you. Then you have to decide if you want to say yes to them. You’re smart and rational, and I think you’ll make the right decision for yourself.” I think that was a good blessing, no?
If he gets extra good life out of this, I think I’ll bake him a cake.