The Many in the One – On Becoming The Collective – Part I

Part I – The Caterpillar and the Army Truck:

After a year-long cross-country sojourn hauling a 6 x 18 house on wheels, I landed in Gardiner, Maine where I settled in a 1-bedroom apartment sizeable enough to fit 5 of my tiny homes side by side. Not long after settling in, I awoke one day from this dream:

I was driving the Chevy Traverse and hauling the Rookery, the name I’d given to my 2016 RPOD. Nuttah, my 5 year old yellow lab mix, and I arrived at a campground where I’d previously made a reservation. The campground had no office and so I waited for a bit near the entrance.

I was tired after having driven a long way but I somehow knew I was to wait for a woman who would direct me to my reserved camp site. After waiting longer than I’d hoped, I looked around and saw a perfectly good site not far away. “I’ll just drive there and set up; if she doesn’t like it, I’ll move”.  I drove to the site and began maneuvering into place when a woman holding a small dog arrived. Before I had the chance to say hello, she had already lowered the rear stabilizer jacks for me.  I thought “wow that was fast…and unusual…but so very kind”. So I moved to the front of the trailer where I uncoupled it from the car.  As I was beginning to lower the driver side front stabilizer jack, the trailer suddenly and unexpectedly began to roll toward me!  This was very odd because I was parked on a flat and at no other time in the year I’d traveled had the trailer rolled like this.  At first, I tried to hold it from moving but I quickly realized that was at least futile and probably dangerous; the Rookery weighed 2800 pounds empty.  Then, I heard a voice – it sounded like my son, but he was nowhere around me. He very calmly said: “Let go; Get out of the way”.

I stepped away from the trailer and my attention was immediately diverted toward a very strange looking vehicle driving away from me.  What I saw was what can only be described as a white billowing caterpillar on wheels.  It was very ethereal; the essence of it was light and translucent. I believe a woman was driving it but I really could not see her; and its front wheels were not connected to its rear wheels which made its structure much like a silk wrapped slinky. It actually reminded me of a Chinese parade dragon loosely filled with air but it was white and definitely not a dragon. It was a caterpillar that was becoming a chrysalis….but it was on wheels.  I marveled at it as it undulated side to side away from where I stood.

Within moments of seeing this wonder, my attention focused again further ahead of the strange vehicle. What I saw traveling toward it at break neck speed was what looked like an army platoon truck complete with high sides and canvas covering. My jaw dropped. The road was not wide enough for these two to pass one another without collision, when considering the truck’s speed and the flimsy white whimsy.  Soon, and as I had feared, the truck came around a corner and the caterpillar’s tail end get caught up in the truck’s rear wheel.  I watched in horror as I observed the white silk being swallowed by the wheel and axle and disappear. The platoon truck then veered away from me as it moved into a narrow entrance to a high walled canyon. As soon as I saw these two merged vehicles disappear into the canyon, I awoke.

On awakening, I immediately thought of my landlady.  She and her little dog had welcomed me into her building and I felt supported and assisted as I began to reconstruct my life. I could immediately relate to that piece.  In addition, it was not too much of a stretch to hear my son’s voice in the dream.  We had, after all, reunited since my return to Maine. His words were not out of the realm of reality either…his deep wisdom has come through since his conception!

But the caterpillar and the army truck – now those were out of context! If the strange white billowing vehicle was in fact a caterpillar in process of becoming a chrysalis, then I guess that vehicle suggested some kind of transformation. And if it’s true that everything we encounter in dreams is really an aspect of ourselves (I too have a dog), then perhaps the barely perceptible woman driving the caterpillar car was also an aspect of me!   This was one of the most delicate, vulnerable and beautiful constructions I’d ever seen.  

I could not see a driver in the army truck. It was coming toward me on a twisting roadway and it was moving fast. Perhaps I did not need to see the driver because I was pretty familiar with its energy…fast, mission oriented and powerful. It mattered not whether the back of the vehicle actually carried warriors; the presence of this type of vehicle sent a message of heartless-doom into my psyche.  I knew the capabilities of this vehicle because, as an aspect of myself, I’d spent the better part of my life denying the feminine and developing my masculine qualities. It was a survival strategy…even if largely unconscious!

Why had the army truck persona been so prevalent in my life?  Simplistically, we live in a patriarchy that is more than 3500 years old. I was born in a time of transition.  Up to then, women’s intelligence, capacity and power, as well as men’s sensitivity, vulnerability and compassion, had not only been overlooked but denounced. This then created a dynamic of victim and persecutor.  In my reality, the paradigm of praiseworthy victimhood was not simply depicted on television shows like Queen for a Day[1] and Days of Our Lives, but was alive and well in my home and neighborhood. Instinctively, I knew it was wrong – I wanted no part of it! My antidote was to invalidate any quality of mine that resembled weakness.

I was drawn to many things that were reserved for men. I enjoyed games of skill and focus like archery, cribbage and horseshoes; I was attracted to the way things worked, damming the street with winter sand to catch the spring runoff.  I loved exploring nature in the vast wilderness over the edge of my neighborhood.   Sadly, many bees, spiders and snakes lost their lives to my inquisitiveness. I’m grateful for their sacrifice.

But, as a girl of the 50s, I had trouble mustering any pride for what I viewed as the menial tasks of cleaning, mending, doing laundry and ironing. These efforts were simply not valued; they were expected but seldom appreciated. It was only later in life that I could feel excited about the art of gourmet cooking, sewing and vegetable processing; these had inherent value!

I was not naturally detail oriented which was needed to excel in math.  My inquisitiveness aided my aptitude for science but my natural talents were in the arts and design, conceptual thinking and visioning.  From a very young age, I could see the past and future as if they were movies!  Yet, the context of motion pictures was still very new. The first film I ever remember seeing at the theatre was Moses starring Charlton Heston – while it came out in 1956 but I remember seeing it with my grade school classmates.

So, that explained why the feminine vehicle allowed itself to be swallowed up by the military truck. But it did not explain why they disappeared into a high walled canyon together.  What were they traveling toward?  What dangers or adventures might they encounter as they traveled as one through this earth enshrouded passageway? This dream which came at the end of my actual journey showed me the start of an entirely new adventure beginning with the wisdom of a familiar voice – ‘let go and get out of the way’.

[1] Queen for a Day featured the poorest and most pitiful women in our country who, if selected for their heart wrenching life stories, would be crowned, caped, sceptered and sent home with new appliances! Those were the days!