Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beneath the streets of Moscow

I’m in that strange transition time between leaving one planet and landing back on my home planet. We left Moscow six days ago and have been in meetings in Miami. Due to a glitch in our ticket, we have one more day here in Florida before heading on to Oregon.
I woke up this morning, as I have woken up every morning for the last week, submerged in the subways beneath the streets of Moscow. In some of the dreams I’ve become separated from my friends and find myself lost, unable to read the signs, surrounded by hundreds of people all in purposeful motion. The roar of the frequently arriving trains on both sides of the platform, the possibility of numerous levels of platforms connected by long escalators, and the ominous presence of the abrupt unguarded drops down to the tracks—these all weave through my dreams and send me groping for the light of day.
Variations on this dream have been recurring several times a night, and this tells me I need to pay attention.
My actual experience of the subways of Moscow was positive, in part due to Johan and Judy’s excellent guidance. The subway experience is just one aspect of normal life to them. Yes, we had to keep alert, eyes on the guide, stick together and move quickly. And our jaunts from one place in the city to another often involved transfers from one subway line to others, usually on different levels. But it was all part of the adventure.
I found the Moscow subway system amazing. An immense but logically organized labyrinth of tunnels, tracks, platforms, levels and escalators links the city and offers a highly efficient transportation service. Not only well lighted and with ample signs and maps, the different subway stations are works of art. It seems that Stalin, the instigator of all this, decided he wanted the subway system to be as splendid as the theaters of the day. We didn’t get a chance to explore a theater, but “splendid” is a word I might use to describe several of the subway stations. Chandeliers, frescos, sculpture, paintings, floor mosaics—if it weren’t for the swiftly moving crowds, I’d have been tempted to slow down and take it all in.
Speaking of the crowds, they also amazed me. In all the rush and crowding, a certain orderliness reigned. People did not push, even as we funneled into the narrow openings of the escalators or rushed to get on a train before the doors closed. Even though people avoided making eye-contact, courtesy prevailed. This may have more to do with Russian culture than with the subways, but I was impressed.
Did I mention that the subways were clean?
So why these dark dreams? Why the fear? I’ve learned that my dreams, especially the dreams I remember, are about me, not the external reality they’re drawn from. In other words, this is not a critique of the subways of Moscow. It’s a call to attention.
To what? I’m not clear on that yet. Our Miami meetings have concluded, but I still feel the impact of the intense emotions as we worked through the complexities of a growing organization. At times the “roar” of the trains almost overwhelmed my senses. Is this the meaning? Or is it the specter of having to work our way through the maze of the social security system in a few years? That could certainly spark fear. Does it have to do with my reactions to difficulties in the extended family circle? Or is this about growing older?
I need to wait and listen. In the meantime, thank you, Moscow, for a fine adventure. And thank you for giving me a splendid metaphor as I explore the subterranean places in my own life.

(Written May 24, 2012)


  1. I resonate deeply and darkly with these recurring dreams. Thank you for naming the light these dreams are seeking to shed on your future. I need similar openness, both in paying attention and in responding to the call within this transition. May we discover the grace and glory for both now and then. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog.

  2. And thank you for taking the time to comment. It helps make this whole blogging adventure more fun and meaningful. Cyberspace is still strange to me, not like a real place at all. So connecting with real people is important.

  3. What an interesting metaphor for being surrounded by life complexities.

    One of the things I remember from the Metro in St. Petersburg and also Moscow was the announcement "Ostorozhno, dveri zakryvaiutsia," "Be careful. The doors are closing." Holding you in the Light for smooth flows.