Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shoes for Sale

A client of mine that I hadn't seen in several years heard about the death of my husband Tom.  After an initial email of condolence, she wrote me the following:

I guess because you've been on my mind all week... Had a dream last night that I went to your house and you were with a lot of people, as Shiva was being held.  So I went outside, and was by the water, when your son Danny came up and started talking about love and how he had just realized how much he was surrounded by love.  Then we went inside and someone had started building shelves and putting shoes on them .. to sell.  Not your shoes, they were going to open a shoe shop.  Have NO idea what any of that might mean ... possibly nothing!  But it was odd I even recalled it, and still now later in the day its so vivid.

I sat with her dream for awhile.  Then I wrote her back:

First of all, what Danny said to you was exactly what he has been saying to the many visitors who came during the week of Shiva which ended yesterday...
Here is what I understand about the second part of the dream, the shoes: Tom was the most grounded person I have ever met. He was the source of stability for our family and for so many that came in touch with him. The way he walked on this earth was solid. He modeled a way of living that was present, mindful in each moment, whether talking to someone, looking at or painting a piece of fruit or a cloud, sailing a boat, fishing with his granddaughters or repairing any of the broken things that it seemed only he could fix.
During the week of Shiva, as we talked about his life, we were dispensing stories about the way he walked in the world. The memories people shared of  the impact he had on them offered very vivid examples of how to live as he did, with two feet on the ground. The shoes, the way to walk, were on the shelves for all to see. Each person that visited was given the opportunity  to "buy" what they were hearing - to take ownership of their own way of walking in the world in the grounded way that Tom walked.

Does the shoe fit? Anyway, that's how I interpret the dream ....

Please feel free to offer comments so that I and others may benefit.  In future postings, I hope to share some stories about Tom and reflections about our life together.


  1. My friend Suzanne W. is without a profile but she had this to say: (cut/pasted):

    I so love dreams - my own and others'.

    I also think of "walking in others' shoes" and how I have in some way been walking in yours - Laya, just a little in the last few weeks - while digesting this huge thing that's happened to you and to all of us --- huge to all of us as we reflect on life and on mortality and as we gather around you at your house either physically or energetically. We can all "find something" (as in shopping) to "get" from this experience.

    And thinking of Tom's unique walk - that relaxed shuffle around the house. Yes, grounded.

    And of walking meditation, hoping you are finding that practice grounding, in moments at least.

    Thanks for the writing.

  2. Hi Laya, and Hello Suzanne W.,

    Oh yes, dreams... I love them too, and I have had a few since Tom's passing, although none as rich and symbolic as the one you describe..

    I agree with you that Tom was a very grounded person, especially for an artist. I used the term "authentic" when describing him to my friends, and I think that the terms "grounded" and "authentic", although not identical, are related. Both describe Tom very well.

    And more on Tom as an artist- many artists have a self destructing quality to them, some will claim that pain and suffering feed their creative power etc...none of that you could find in Tom.. (I think Tom didn't even like to smoke..)his art was full of light and delight, and it became even more so since moving to Miami. I often found a delightful "dream like" quality to his art.
    So we are back to were we started; dreams and how they connect us and guide us to see the light...

  3. Another comment in response to the dream that came to me from Danny Nagler. I am sharing it with his permission:

    Amazing! I read the dream first and before reading your response, I had a similar interpretation. Of course, you were able to put it in such beautiful words. Maybe I was leaning toward this interpretation because in the last week [during Shiva] I have frequented that store often, browsed the shelves and bought alot of the merchandise.
    I hope you're having a day filled with strength and love.

  4. [Apparently some people are having trouble "signing in" to make comments. If you have a google account, it's easy. Otherwise I'm not sure. In any case, I will continue to share comments others would have posted if they had been successful cracking the system]:

    From my high school classmate Robin L:

    Dear Laya -
    I was very moved by the dream that you reported on your blog--couldn't figure out exactly how to respond there so I'm writing you here.

    I firmly believe that the dreams that come after someone has died are important messages. I didn't know Tom well enough to know for sure, but I imagine he's giving you an important gift of his shoes so that you can walk in them on his path for as long as you need to. He's helping guide you through this tough time; just follow him. He'll help you find your way. It sounds from the dream that Tom must have had many pairs of shoes and many friends to wear them. That is a beautiful thing.

    I think of you often and admire your courage.


  5. Dearest Laya,
    What a beautiful gift/letter to us all!
    Thank you for letting the words flow....
    May they continue to do so in the days ahead
    when you will be blessed by taking upon yourself the ground-ed-ness of Tom and 'walking in his shoes'....just long enough to learn whatever lessons you need to learn there.
    Keep coming back to us, please; we need you!
    And love you, profoundly, Ama-la Linnea

  6. Laya,
    I hope you know you have the start of a book here!

  7. Last night I dreamed I was sleeping over at your house. You had made a lemon cake with vanilla frosting that we enjoyed earlier. Then I heard a noise so I got up from bed, out of your front door and down a long, formal staircase. In the landing between floors I stopped short. Tom was standing there, looking so relaxed, like a summer breeze.

  8. I mean, a few nights ago, not last night...

  9. I love dreams, too, and I love what you did with this one, Laya.
    From taking an art history class and a blog I read regularly about art, I have done a lot of thinking lately about how much harm the idea that artists need to be self-destructive and in pain has done.
    I LOVE that Tom was such a talented artist and yet he lived his life in such a grounded way.
    I commented in your post after this one about how we need to share stories with one another, and this idea of all the shoes on the shelf for sale says the same thing. We can try on Tom's shoes and walk in them, and we can try on your shoes and walk in them, by hearing your stories. And both of yours are truly good shoes to try on!

  10. Molly also shared this poem with me....

    When the Shoe Fits

    Ch'ui the draftsman
    Could draw more perfect circles freehand
    Than with a compass.

    His fingers brought forth
    Spontaneous forms from nowhere. His mind
    Was meanwhile free and without concern
    With what he was doing.

    No application was needed
    His mind was perfectly simple
    And knew no obstacle.

    So, when the shoe fits
    The foot is forgotten,
    When the belt fits
    The belly is forgotten,
    When the heart is right
    "For" and "against" are forgotten.

    No drives no compulsions,
    No needs, no attractions:
    Then your affairs
    Are under control.
    You are a free man.

    Easy is right. Begin right
    And you are easy.
    Continue easy and you are right.
    The right way to go easy
    Is to forget the right way
    And forget that the going is easy.

    ~ Chuang Tzu ~

    (In the Dark Before Dawn, trans. Thomas Merton)


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