Hi Professor,

Over the summer I studied abroad in Costa Rica. Since returning home I’ve had a few dreams about Costa Rica and being there, but not like the one I had last night.

I was on a platform with a Costa Rican tour guide and young red-headed lady, getting ready to cross a bridge. The bridge was safe and I knew I had crossed it quite a few times. It was wooden, but didn’t have rails and to cross it- you held onto a rope from above. It hung vertically and was not connected to the bridge in any way. The bridge was over water and I could hear the water, but could barely see it because it seemed to be covered by clouds. I made it halfway across the bridge and became scared and lost my balance. My companions had disappeared from the platform and I fell, turning the bridge upside down, but was able to hang on with my legs. I flipped the bridge back over and was able to crawl back to my starting point. When I was about to reach the platform I became so anxious I lunged for it, made it, stood up and walked through a door to the jungle only to realize I had lost my pants (underwear included). My t-shirt was still thankfully intact. I knew I could not trek through the jungle pantsless so I went back to the platform.

My companions were back and had wondered where I had gone without my pants. They did not seem at all bothered that I didn’t have pants on, but just wondered where I had gone. I told them what happened as I put my clothes back on and the tour guide told me that had I fallen the river would have carried me, but not too far down the current would stop and I would be stuck in the abyss of the river. When he led me over to the bridge and water, the platform had expanded to have rails and a roof and the water was now clearly visible and an amazing blue.

As we stood there, the young lady and I looked down at the water and saw many sea creatures swimming in a river, which was bizarre because they were in the river and not the sea. When I looked down at the river, I noticed the platform had a few feet of water up to our ankles and an alligator was swimming on the platform. I stepped up onto the lowest part if the railing, seeming to be the only one bothered by its presence. I became distracted by the river and noticed a wolf swimming in the water. As he got closer, he jumped onto the platform and the tour guide threw him off. The wolf was not aggressive and the tour guide seemed more aggravated than frightened. The wolf jumped back onto the platform and jumped on the railing right in front of me. We made eye contact then I pushed him back into the river. I was slightly scared, but pushed him more so because I had seen the tour guide do so. By this point the bridge was gone. Then I woke up.

I’d really love some insight on this on.  Thanks, Professor!

 

M.M.

My Dear M.M.,

 

Rivers represent boundaries, and often in dreams they represent the dividing lines between significant stages in the flow of one’s life.  Crossing a river bridge in a dream is thus a subconscious metaphor for moving into a new phase.  The Professor is not surprised that such a dream might come after a period of study abroad.  Certainly you came back from your experience abroad feeling that changes were afoot, as tends to be the case post-travel.  In fact, it was just after The Professor’s return from a lengthy Viennese residency at the Institute of Freudian Ontology (wherein the paper “Regarding the Significant Appearance of the Vienna Sausage in Dreams” was developed) that the Professor first donned his now trademarked smoking jacket (sans pants, of course).  But I digress.

The Professor has written many times in this journal about the loss of pants in dreams.  What is it with you humans and your pants?  The Professor is of the opinion that if one is so concerned about finding oneself without a double-legged raiment of privacy, one ought not to bother donning such a garment in the first place. But very well, as you find yourself in a state of trouserless perturbance, The Professor can tell you that losing one’s pants in a dream is almost always a metaphor for feelings exposure and vulnerability in your waking life.  In your case, The Professor would surmise that your particular slack-lacking state equates to underlying feelings of ill-preparedness.  Indeed, M.M., one can safely say that it would be difficult at best to successfully trek through the epic jungle of life without one’s pants on.  Unless you are The Professor (or perhaps Donald Duck), it is therefore a solid idea to return to the platform and to don your trousers at once.

Fortunately, your subconscious seems to know this.  With your second bridge-crossing, you may rest assured that there are many affirmatives to be found.  While your first crossing was rife with tremors of uncertainty and capriciousness (i.e., a rope attached to nothing, companions who leave you in a proverbial bridge-flipping lurch, a chasm lost to clouds, and of course, the telltale disappearance of your pants), the second crossing is fortified by a stabilized structure, a confidence-building return to a trousered state of being, and an assertive tour guide.  My colleague Dr. Jung would tell you that your aggravated guide is in fact an archetypal aspect of your self, present to offer reassurance that any obstacles you might face (such as the alligator and that most myth-worthy menace, the wolf) are more nuisance than they are genuine danger.  This is affirmed when you vanquish the wolf by pushing him off the bridge.  The bridge vanishes, and, voilà, you wake up- pantsless (or not),  ready to face the real challenges that life puts before you (or not).  The Professor recommends that, should you wish to further fortify your self confidence, you purchase a pair of those nice pockety cargo pants humans are so fond of wearing and sleep in them.  Ideally, you might pack the pockets with savory liver-filled treats as an offering to any mythical, dog-headed beings you might encounter while in the dream world.  After all, one can never be too prepared.

I remain your faithful servant and dream interpreter extraordinaire,