The Importance of Breathing

imagesLast night I dreamed I was in a restaurant with a friend. I was looking at all the people in the big open space, when I noticed that Barack Obama was on my left, walking about shaking hands with folks and passing out info. I stood up and hugged him and then put my hand on his heart, and one on his back, and smiled and said, “You are the man, Obama. I so know you are going to win.” And looking at him straight in the eye, felt myself just channel him total love and faith from my heart. Then I noticed his heart was beating really fast and I realized he was mostly in his head, that he was scared and going about his campaign from a place of thinking he had to mentally appeal to people, instead of just being totally in his body and trusting fully. And I thought to myself, he needs to breathe. He needs to know the importance of breathing full and deep into his being. And then I was on the street. And was walking downtown and had the thought that I should have told him that, because the whole world needs to breathe deeper and fuller and he could help spread that message. And then I thought, yeah, and everyone else is probably telling him all sorts of things that should be the priority for our nation, too. And then I woke up.

From a 36-year old woman from Maine, in August 2008

This dream comes from a peak moment in Obama’s rise to the Presidency, when his popularity and momentum were especially strong. 

The dream vividly expresses the woman’s personal support for Obama, but it also implicitly criticizes something she sees as a weakness: Obama’s overly intellectual approach to political leadership. 

As the first year of Obama’s administration draws to a close, many of Obama’s liberal critics have attacked him on this same point–he’s too calculating, too pragmatic, too timid in the face of opposition.  

The dreamer experiences an unusual bit of political metacognition at the end of the dream.  After her intense physical connection with Obama she mentally steps back and reflects on the fact that she’s just one citizen among countless others who have their own priorities, concerns, and ideals.

Perhaps this is the psychologically appropriate next step for Obama’s liberal-supporters-turned-critics: developing the ability to set aside their personal philosophies and look at the country, as Obama must, from a broader, more ideologically complex perspective.

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