The History Or Meaning of Sitting To Someone's Left
January 13, 2022 2:50 PM   Subscribe

I had a dream with a noted recognized man and visionary I hugely admire. I never knew him and instead became aware of him through his books, inventions, influence and artifacts. His recognition came to him in the last 25 years of his life and passed away at age 88.

The dream takes place at my maternal grandmothers home. It is Thanksgiving. A long table is set up in the living room for the dinner.

While my mothers family was enormous, I notice that there is only I and an older couple in the room. They are about to sit down at the table. Their backs are to me so I can't see who they are. I do know that they are not a part of my mom's extended family.

I walk towards them. As they sit down, I realize who the man is. It's my hero and his wife. He sees me, immediately gets up, moves one seat to he right, and motions that I am to sit where he sat. I am now sitting to his left next to he and his wife. The room still remains empty outside of the three of us. That is where the dream ends.

It was a very profound dream and remains close to my heart.

I have always wondered what is the symbology of sitting to someones left outside of office environments.

He was also known for his impeccable manners.
posted by goalyeehah to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a symbologist but I wouldn’t have interpreted this as “he allowed me to sit to his left,” since there was no doubt already space to his left at the long and otherwise empty table. I would have interpreted this as “he allowed me to take his place,” which I would imagine is your subconscious expressing that you would like to take up, embody, and perpetuate his admirable qualities and accomplishments.
posted by ejs at 3:35 PM on January 13 [5 favorites]

If you're sitting at his left, then he is sitting at your right. In the Bible, sitting at someone's right hand is a place of power, under the authority of the person to the left. Psalm 110:1, Luke 22:69.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 3:53 PM on January 13 [4 favorites]

He chose to become your right hand man.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:03 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

In this context, of course, you're the only person who's going to be able to answer this fully. What did sitting to his left mean to you? Your subconscious will have been drawing from your own associations here, not from etiquette books.

Historically, I suppose it's considered chivalrous for a man to walk to a woman's right, or to put that in a less gendered way, to let someone you want to protect walk on your left. (Different from seating arrangements, though.)
posted by babelfish at 4:03 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Historically, I suppose it's considered chivalrous for a man to walk to a woman's right, or to put that in a less gendered way, to let someone you want to protect walk on your left.

I was taught that a man walks between a woman and the street, presumably to protect her from being splashed with mud as the horses and carriages roll by (not that I'm horse and carriage age - I just thought that's where that came from).

I knew someone who was very into dreams, kept a dream journal, and was in a dream discussion group. Maybe try doing some journal writing around this dream? That might give you a better sense of what this means to you.
posted by FencingGal at 4:35 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Pimps walk down the street with the girl on the left (street side). Also, never split walking around a telephone pole or something, and a gentleman holds the door open.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:59 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

The definition of a "right-hand man" is a chief assistant who helps and support the leader in their work. I think it is link to the idea that the one on the right has their sword arm free to defend their leader (also another reason men might walk to the right a woman that he thought might need his protection)

So maybe there is something here about this is a person who is offering to be source of support and protection for you? The yielding of seat also seems evocative as mentioned above.
posted by metahawk at 5:17 PM on January 13

The best technique I've found for dream interpretation is to write out as much as I can remember and then go back for every word write out all of my associations with that word. Don't make it into a story, just explore the connections with each element. So look at all of your associations with "maternal grandmother" "maternal grandmother's house" "empty" "living room" "long table" "Thanksgiving" and so on - you may find deeper levels of meaning than will also illuminate the parts about your hero.
posted by metahawk at 5:17 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Seconding that I would interpret his letting you take his place as the more significant aspect. But also seconding that only you can fully answer this.

Sometimes, when your subconscious is telling you something, it's easier to know what it is NOT saying. In this instance, I recommend writing down a list of all the possible answers you can imagine, then let a little time pass and come back to the list. Cross off everything you're sure is wrong. See what remains.
posted by wjm at 5:20 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

I (a woman) have walked down with a lot of wedding ushers, and I’m always on their right.
posted by 8603 at 6:32 PM on January 13

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