I had an unusual and interesting dream last night. It was in the form of a This Is Your Life show, except instead of interviewing people from your past they showed video clips of key moments, as if there had been a movie camera there filming all along.
You wonder at dreams like this, where they come from, what they mean. If dreams are a kind of conjuring of the inner and obscured consciousness then what is presented is an alternative take of a subjective reality.
The dream proceeded as I sat in the guest’s chair watching these scenes flash up on-screen to the garrulous commentary of the presenter. You know the drill, all very cheesy. There was something ominous in it though. It presented as straight-forward, but some of the commentary began to become pointed, and even in my own eyes some of what I saw didn’t measure up to what I remembered of it. And taken as a whole – and this seemed to be the commentators slant – it didn’t really add up to much.
I woke after the dream and thought it through, wanting to remember it come morning. There seemed something in it I should know.
I took Rigby for a walk before and as he surged ahead, as he stopped to take a sniff, as he did all his usual doggy things I considered what the dream might mean.
There seemed an obvious interpretation, and on reflection it seemed valid.
I like to think of myself as having enjoyed a colourful life to date. Things might be tough now, and even miserable occasionally, but gee, I’ve had an interesting ride. And I’ve done things.
I pondered those things one by one. One of the central interests in my life has been travel, and I’m proud to have travelled reasonably extensively. Yet many people have travelled widely, and many of them much more widely than I have. I’ve made a lot of money at times in my life, but then I’ve lost it too. It makes for an interesting story, but on a reflection, a story has almost become cliché. As it stands I’m at the bottom of the ‘having lost a lot of money’ curve right now, and that’s no fun.
So then, what else? I’ve been a business owner twice over. My consulting business, and then my venture as owner of a massage shop. That makes for some interesting stories too, and an amusing/surreal chapter of my memoirs, but then that’s hardly novel either.
I considered my romantic attachments. There’s certainly some unusual stories in that lot, some of which I trot out occasionally for the amusement of others – like the girl who tried to pay for our drinks bill with her knickers; or the boss’s wife who became so obsessed by me that she began to stalk me. Then there’s the story about how I came to inadvertently date two women from the same office. Then of course there are the regular romantic entanglements I’ve found myself bound up in.
Yes, it’s all good fodder, but it’s true, it adds up to fuck all. Where am I today?
And so on.
Now I don’t recount all of this now with the intention of getting down on myself. What’s done is done, and it’s not my way to dwell on the negatives. The learning from this is to look twice, and not rely on the sepia glow of memory to paint a picture prettier than the truth.
I’m very big on the journey. You live life to absorb experience, knowledge and maybe a little wisdom. You want your eyes opened, to taste and feel and hear truly. This is what these things amount to. They are things I have done or experienced, and the person I am today is a product of that. That’s been the familiar explanation of my life.
It is important to do, but you also want to achieve. Sometimes the destination means a lot.
When I look at it I’ve achieved a lot over the years, but much of what I’ve achieved over the journey has been also lost over the journey. That’s not just me, that’s the nature of much of life: things are transient. Today’s achievement is tomorrow’s old news, and in a year often meaningless altogether.
All the same, I wonder what this dream is telling me: Ok H, you’ve had a colourful life sure, maybe even some grand moments, but hardly unique – and what do you have to show for it? Try not to gild the lily H. What’s happened is in the past, no matter how interesting. It’s gone, and what do you have left of it today?
Of course one answer to that is that I’m still going. That’s fair enough, I am. If I am to have that dream in another twenty years then it maybe more pleasing.
What it means for me now is to focus more on tangible goals. Practical outcomes. It’s funny, I forecast a little of that yesterday, and I wonder if the dream I had was some reflection of that.
I’m still learning. One of the things I’ve come to realise that when you’re down and nearly out the mystical notion of ‘the journey’ is an indulgence. It’s a rich man’s whimsy. The journey will look after itself, but right now you need food on the table, money in the bank, someone to share it with, and a clear and meaningful way forward to build upon.