I wish I could ask you all for your dreams. So many of my clients have told me that their dreams have been wild, weird, and extraordinary these last few weeks. I wonder, even for the most disengaged amongst us, what the effect of the political skin around us unpeeling has been? In some places politicians change like traffic lights, but in the UK there’s (so I’m told) a legacy of stability: a cultivated, thick-skinned indifference that belies anger and fear.
The skin’s off, I think.
We are living through the politics of the anthropocene. Tides are rising, winds blowing harder, the sun shines only as it can during these times of disintegration. There isn’t a political solution to this kind of chaos, and there can’t be any kind of a solution while the problem isn’t being properly named.
Groups of people tend to behave in ways that reveal what’s being pushed down or hidden from view. Just as an ugly family secret becomes known through peculiar, horrible family behaviour all of this chaos in Westminster points to something that isn’t being said. Maybe the country’s biggest problem is ungovernable, and that’s what we’re seeing. I write all of this on the good authority of a dream.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
RL Stevenson, My Shadow
What do you do with your dreams? The things you dream of doing? The person you dream of being? I hope that you share them. Dreams kept to yourself can turn you into a dreamer. Too many dreams in your head (and these are just day-dreams that I’m talking about) can leave you feeling as if you’ve eaten too much. And when you’ve done that don’t you just feel like sleeping? So better share your dreams.
It isn’t until you’ve shared your dreams that you can see whether they may come true. That means taking care who you share them with. There are some unpleasant people around who are more than likely to stamp on your dreams or want them for themselves. You need someone who doesn’t want to steal from you.
Once you’ve found a listener try telling them all of your dreams, particularly the outlandish ones. Some might sound strange to you, and possibly to your listener. Maybe these strange dreams come from the shadow side of you that you’d rather keep secret; the side of you that you’re ashamed of. I met a famous author once who told me she grew up feeling ashamed that she wrote so much of the time: in her diary on the bus on the way to school; under the covers at night with a torch; on the beach on holiday when her sisters were sunbathing or swimming. For some reason her parents didn’t like the idea of a girl spending too much time writing. It’s a good thing she told a teacher at her school, who was able to tell her what an incredible writer she was.
Of course that teacher could have said something else. She might have liked the writing but not so much, and not made a fuss. I used to dream of playing international cricket when I was a boy, and was pretty good. There was a man called Mick, however, who captained me and found a way of telling me I wasn’t quite good enough. He was a poet though, and suggested I keep writing.
Your daydreams, waking dreams, could be telling you what your future might hold, but not if you keep them to yourself. Sleeping dreams can tell you more, sometimes, if you’re lucky and you find a way of understanding them.
In a sleeping dream you’ll find a trace of the day that’s just gone. Something about the dream will lock onto the very near present. The rest of it can be like a puzzle, only not one you’ll be able to solve if you go looking to make common sense of it. There’s the story of a dream you can tell someone, however surreal it sounds, and the weird sense of it that you might wake up with, which doesn’t quite feel like nonsense but which is usually beyond words. Find someone to tell your dream to, keeping in touch with both of these elements without trying to add them together. Then see were your mind goes. What’s the next thing you think of?
Your dream can be like a key once somebody else has heard it; one that works so strangely. I’ve found that telling a dream to someone and them reflecting back the parts of it they find interesting, perhaps saying what it makes them think of, can give me ways of thinking about my life that were hidden from me. I let my mind go off wherever it wants after we’ve talked through the dream, see where it lands, and ask myself: ‘why have I landed here? Why has my dream taken me here?’ More often than not, although certainly not every time, something, an answer, jumps up out of nowhere. A secret is revealed to me: a thing that was hidden from me. That secret can reveal to me something about how I am now, so that in the future I can be different.
Dreams can be wonderful. They take you places you’d never go without them. You have them on your own and then you can share them. I hope that yours help you find your way through life.
It’s nearing the end of January and it feels, if we were on a ship, as if the shore we are bound for is finally approaching. Back in December, bar the delightful interlude of Christmas, it felt as if we were in the middle of the Atlantic. November was ugly … cast off into the winter. Continue reading “A Theory of Time”