I don't usually have much truck with dreams --don't remember them, don't experience them as reflections of waking realities, don't have any convictions about them, pro or con. But last night I had one that was more arresting than most, and I lay awake reviewing it for at least half an hour before I got up. It was pretty close to a dream type that I'll name "call to service", in that a more ...ummm... credulous person than I might interpret it as a Message that must be Heeded.
It had to do with massaging toes, which may sound a bit preposterous, but think about it: if you actually do massage somebody's toes, you have their full attention, and you can focus that attention on what's blocking them, on their dissatisfaction/dukkha. You are in a position to say or ask anything, and they pretty much for sure will respond with candor and honesty. They can't not, with their toes in your hands and your attention focused on the complexities that are locked up in their muscles and ligaments. Arguably, toes-in-hands is the best way to communicate with somebody: it's not the eyes-locked gaze that carries enough emotional content to be dangerous, or the hand-in-hand grip that's either social or amorous: the massager is performing a profound service, a mitzvah even, at a distance that is culturally comfortable for most of us (where other forms of massage are definitely violations of the personal envelope, and so are placed in a therapeutic context ...or not, in some variants).
So here's me in the dream, sitting on a bench in a Boston/Cambridge subway station, massaging the toes and counseling a stranger... and it works. Whatever the burden was, it's lifted, but whether it's the actual manipulation of toes or the words or the compassion... that's unclear.
Now mind, I'm not proposing to go out handling the toes of strangers. I'm not that credulous. But I'm interested to note that I've never had (so far as I can remember) a dream (or even a waking thought) that cast me in a therapeutic role, or suggested that I might have any powers of a healing sort of nature.
This is all a bit, well, myffic, to quote Terry Pratchett. One thinks of the nearby realm of reflexology (which still seems pretty whifty to me), and of the Papal ritual of foot-washing (which is, after all, not about sanitation... or about abasement either --something much deeper). And one thinks of the term "healing hands", which several people in my family are sometimes said to possess.
For the moment, I'm just noting that I had the dream, not seeking its meaning(s) or its antecedents. I await further developments...