Q: I’m getting rid of stuff and I decide to throw out this wooden table and chairs set. I think, “My mom bought this for me at a garage sale for $65” which is true (it was my set when I first moved out on my own and I had it until recently when my fiancé and I bought a house). I tear apart the chairs with the intention of using them for firewood. They come apart easily, but I notice that the bolts holding the pieces together are enormous and very sturdy, even though the chairs are not. I decide to use the chair pieces for firewood anyway, but when I come to the table itself, I change my mind. I decide to keep it, even though it’s kind of crappy. I regret having torn apart the chairs.
A: Well, my dear, it seems like you’re in the middle of some pretty significant life shifts, huh? I mean, you say you’re engaged, so it doesn’t take much dream interpretation to understand that! But your dream lays out what’s also happening on the inside: you’re sorting through the stuff of life, of earlier days, and tossing away the family and single life for the older, married one.
But that’s just the easy stuff. The bigger things in this dream appear to be a reluctance to change. You’re stuck between wanting to get rid of, literally and psychically, “your stuff.” You know it’s time, but you’re still holding back. You decide to tear apart a set of furniture but then, see it in a new way, reconsider its value, see what’s good in it, and change your mind. I wonder, is it change that’s tough? Or is it more specifically a question of not wanting to look down on, or devalue, what is old and inexpensive? What is it about that table that makes you feel you shouldn’t continue with your original plan of “getting rid of stuff” and, rather smartly, recycling it as firewood?
I see you assessing and reassessing the value of things throughout this dream. You remember the inexpensive cost of the set, then after rejecting the chairs, you then notice that they have some sturdy components! The bolts are good. It might feel like a stretch, but I think this reflects a waffling between devaluing your family, then appreciating them again, then feeling badly for having ever lost appreciation for them. In this dream, in this transition, you’re saying goodbye to your mother’s influence and care, and it hurts a little and is a little confusing. You can’t help but note that the bolts, the glue, the foundation of your life, is strong, and you know it, even if it’s not necessarily made of the same stuff you value today. And this causes confusion for you. You know you’ve outgrown this furniture in a way, but you struggle with what to do about it. You’re letting go of those old influences, those old things that used to make-up your psychic home, and that’s proper, my dear. It’s time. It’s just a matter of the attitude with which you undertake it.
It seems smart to use this set for firewood. Respectful. You’re not just tossing it away in the city landfill, that would be sort of sad. Here, you’re reflecting to yourself how you are recycling the energy of the old stuff by burning it, even if you’re a little ambivalent about the whole process. If, in the dream, you had tossed the furniture into the ocean, or buried it in the ground, I’d think you were fighting this process more than you are. In the imagery from this dream, however, it seems you’re reluctant to let things go and move forward, but your instincts are good. I would suggest you take some time to look at what’s holding you back, assess how and why you value the past and your family the way that you do, and make the peace with the changes you are preparing to make. Dream this dream forward and let that table go, along with the chairs. Don’t look back. You’ll feel better when trust your original instincts to let go of the old and move forward. There’s nothing wrong with it. You can simultaneously know that the bolts are good, appreciate the set, and still let it go.
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Satya is a therapist in private practice in Portland, Oregon specializing in applicable dream work, the quarter-life crisis, and the stage of life between young adulthood and mid-life. www.quarterlifecounselor.com