Sleeping in the library

I wrote the other week how I had parted with a friend. We had some discussions after, but left it at that. I think we both still feel some affection for the other, but I’ve felt content with the decision. There is regret, but acceptance too, and in the end our parting was more amicable than it started.

Then last night I had a dream. For some reason I was staying in a boarding house that doubled as a library. My bed was among the bookshelves. I woke to find my friend bending over me with a smile on his face. It was such a familiar, true to life smile that I smiled back. He was dressed for some reason in a dark, pinstriped suit and a fedora, like someone from a 1940’s detective movie. He looked very dapper.

In a way the circumstances of the dream reflected our situation. I was in a boarding house because that’s all I could afford. The rows of books perhaps were reference to my desire to write. And I woke and looked at him knowing that we had parted as friends.

Seeing him there smiling at me changed everything. As soon as I saw him I knew that everything was good again. I was relieved. He had come by on his way to the airport to see me. It had been on his mind too, and at the last-minute he had done something. That’s the friend I miss.

We sat and talked on my bed while the middle-aged landlady came by with bottles of Mexican pop to drink, and that’s how it ended.

What I do about it is a different story.


Monsters and friends

I’m dreaming so much lately that it’s disrupting my sleep. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t dreaming, but the last couple of weeks have been particularly intense. Thursday last week it was so full-on that I ended up sleeping late. That’s unheard of for me. I don’t use an alarm clock. but my body clock is so reliable that I wake up within one or two minutes of the same time each weekday morning. But not Thursday. When I opened my eyes proper it was 7.40 – and I had to catch the 7.50 train.

I was at it again last night. First was a monster dream. It was in some post apocalyptic world in which monsters roamed. There were only a few human beings left, and for some reason we had been divided into three-man teams deployed to scour the city, and take our chances with the monsters.

In the first part of the dream we were moving through a large city set by a river. For some reason in my mind I had it labelled as Paris, though it didn’t resemble it. In the second part we had found our way to an abandoned hotel where we met up with another three-man team. While we were there we got warning that a monster was coming our way. Rather than banding together to fight the monster we scattered, each of us to an empty room, waiting for the monster to come.

The understanding was that the monster would get at least one of us, but by scattering the who of it become a bit of a lottery. We were boxed in, the corridors taking a basic P shape, with the monster coming towards us by the stem. Most scattered into rooms along the stem, while I went further, taking an inside room around the other side. We all waited for the monster to come, and for the sounds of some wretched soul being eaten alive.

The dream never quite progressed to that stage, with my dream mind instead focusing on the best strategy to deal with a situation like this. Hiding in a room seemed a trap that left you with no options. In those particular circumstances I favoured instead staying mobile, loitering near the head of the P and waiting to see which side the monster would come, and evading him that way.

The next dream was sketchy, except I know it featured the friend I parted with on Thursday. There was no reference to that. In the dream he was as he used to be, warm and caring. It’s no surprise I dreamt of him. I’ve thought much about what happened – losing a long-term friend is no easy thing. I believe in being decisive – anything less tends to make things messy – but I regret that I gave him no warning of what I felt. Things have been bad for some time, and it’s something I have considered for nearly a year, but still I think I should have given told him first how close I was to pulling the pin. (Now I have to figure out what the right thing to do is – but suspect the damage can’t be undone, and perhaps should be left to lie).

There were other dreams too, a night full of them. The result is each day I don’t feel quite as rested as I should.

And so on

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.

The necessity of tears

I dream so much these days it’s hardly worth making mention of. And it’s not just any old dreams, they’re dreams full of meaning and emotion. It’s like my conscious life is being dissected and turned inside out and exposed unconsciously in my dreams.

I think there’s more truth in my dreams than there is my daily life. Perhaps it was ever so, but the difference now seems more critical than ever before. It’s understandable. Perhaps it’s even necessary.

I think I’m reasonably honest with myself, but there is the need for conscious intervention. I’m forever steeling myself, urging myself on, trying to be strong, to push through. With such a narrow focus on getting from one day to the next I barely contemplate the things outside of that. My dreams do though.

Last night I found myself sobbing in one dream. It felt good to just be and let it out. It happened during a sequence of complex dreams that seemed to deal with mental frailty. Not mine – I was the protagonist in the dreams seeking to help others, and to find a better way. Perhaps significantly I was frustrated in my dreams that there seemed no avenue for people to seek help, and be open about their fears and concerns.

In one of those funny twists I designed an app in one of the dreams to help manage this. In the dream it seemed a very clever solution to a condition prevailing in so many. I felt as if I understood the reasons why, and one of the answers was to bring it out into the open.

There’s no doubt that I’ve been running on empty for a very long time. Somehow I’m lucky in that I can replenish my meagre reserves every so often so that I never sputter to a complete stop. It only needs a little to get me by. My good fortune is others misfortune.

I survive because I’m inherently a positive person. Come the crunch I come down on that side of the ledger. So far anyway. There are many more without the power of positive belief to support them. When they get crunched they tumble to the negative side. Anything is possible then.

I believe still in a future, and that belief stems from self belief. I can do it. I have it. Just give me a chance. That’s where the frustration comes in of course. Opportunities are rare.

I get by, but clearly there are things happening beneath the surface of my life. I’m so tough in so many ways, more so than I would like to be, but so sensitive too. I don’t know if any of my friends have ever seen me in tears. I think most people who know me think I’m incredibly stoic, and strong. That may be the wash-up, but getting there is different.

I find myself regularly in tears these days. Generally it starts watching the news. I cried watching the events unfold in Paris, several times. I cry when I hear of sad things, or unjust things, or at kind things. There are prompts for my tears, but it’s hard not to believe that the tears are not already there, unshed. I might cry on behalf of others, but I do so on my own behalf too.

I always feel faintly annoyed by this. I don’t mind feeling things, but I’m still old school enough to wish I wouldn’t tear up at them. More than anything I dislike the loss of control. It feels as if I’m always on that edge and that anything might set it off. It’s so totally incongruous when you consider what an absolute hard arse I am at other times.

The tears come because that’s all I have left. The buffer that kept me from crying before has been eroded by time and circumstances. They’re like a circuit breaker – I need to cry, and so I do. They’re like oil that lubricate the system. When I can’t cry anymore is when I’ll be trouble. What I need is to re-build that buffer, but that will only happen in better times.

As part of this I’m still haunted by the death of my mother. I don’t mention this much, and in truth it’s not something I think of often – but I feel, regularly. It’s a key reason I cry – not because she died, but because she’s not there. Or, more accurately, because no-one is there.

What I lost when mum died was someone who loved me unconditionally, someone who cared for me, someone I could always turn to. I existed in her eyes. Each time I cry I remember this, and I realise when I cry for myself it’s because I’m alone and must do it all myself. I can’t be weak, because there’s no-one there to help prop me up. Tears ease that pressure, but then it all starts again.

That’s for the record.


Dreams of war

Had a very detailed, involved dream last night. It was like watching a particularly good HBO production. In fact as I was dreaming it I felt as if this was the latest of several episodes I had viewed previously. It was compelling, like Mad Men. It was my dream, but I felt drawn to it like an audience member. What will come next?

While there was a narrative, it’s also a dream, so there were quirky and illogical interludes. For example there was me the viewer. My step-father happened to be the ex-football coach, Mick Malthouse, who actually shares some traits with my actual father. In the dream I sense he disapproves of me. At one point I actually wonder if he referenced me in his speeches to the players as an an example of someone you don’t want to be.

This was interesting. In that odd way of dreams there were moments in it where I stopped to analyse this. It was hurtful, but revealing to. In the cold light of day I suspect it’s a fair representation of how my real father thinks of me today. In it also is a sense of shame which I’ve sublimated in my daily life. I’m not living the life I could be, or perhaps should be. I take some responsibility for that, and feel some embarrassment, but don’t see it as an indictment on my character as the character of Mick Malthouse seemed to do. I can understand it though, which is what the dream exposes.

The rest of the dream is pretty much narrative. It’s set in WW2. I’m in the forces, but not a front line soldier. I’m an investigator of some type in the middle of investigating an undisclosed mystery.

I’m operating not far behind the front line. Not long before the area I’m in was the centre of conflict, which is what the mystery pertains to. I’m close enough to the front to hear explosions and the rattle of gunfire. Once I could see some of it in the distance, our men seemingly falling mysteriously to the ground shot dead. There’s a sense of disconnected reality.

The whole dream feels very real though. The day after day not knowing where things will end, or how. The grimy, gritty reality, the authentic sense of duty and banality and peril. Ultimately though it feels like a story about art and expression, romance and death. There’s a veneer of intellectuality, like a quality production.

Then there’s a counter-attack, and I watch as suddenly German troops enter the scene. I see men fall, watch as the Germans quickly take us by surprise. I have no time to escape, and without a weapon I can’t fight back. I rush to hide, finding a ditch where I pull a fallen bush over the top of me. Others get the same idea though, and with every extra man my chances of eluding discovery diminish.

Sure enough, I am discovered. Laying there I hear the footsteps approach. There is a very authentic fear in me, not just of being discovered, but of being shot dead. It’s so present and real. I know that I should be taken prisoner, but I also know that sometimes prisoners are disposed of, especially in the heat of battle.

A German voice speaks in English, jocular and smug. The war is over for you, he says, and with that the bush hiding me is flung aside.

The scene changes. I am free. Whether I have escaped I cannot say. Freedom bubbles in me. I’m exuberant with it. It’s night, and I run to the edge of the spur we’re on, and pause. In the ravine below there is a fine house, with a little fire burning in an outdoor area. On impulse I continue down to the house.

The house belongs to a woman. She’s an artist, a sculptress I think, tall with dark hair, attractively tomboyish. I know this because seemingly in an earlier episode I had a liaison with her. It was passionate and desperate in the time of war, and our minds met as our bodies did too. It felt true, yet by this time we have parted and I have not seen her for months. I suspect she has taken up with another man.

I continue regardless, finding myself in the small outdoor courtyard where the embers of an evening fire glow red. Memories come back to me, and a kind of regret. Everything feels very close about me, and very real. On impulse I try the door leading into the house and it opens. I go into the dark house. No lights are on. Everyone is asleep. I stand there absorbing it.

Finally I turn to leave. I don’t belong there, in fact I’m trespassing. I exit through the door, but it bangs loudly as it closes. Lights go on. I hear voices. I pause, and then turn back and open the door to go in. I can’t run out like that, and the dream ends.

Where there’s hope…

I dreamt last night that earth had suffered some kind of catastrophe and all that was left of it was a long sliver of rock drifting through space. Somehow it had retained an atmosphere, and the remaining infrastructure was sound, but there were few resources – not enough to go around. It was a bleak circumstance, but the remaining population received it with a stoic acceptance – grateful, perhaps, at their unlikely survival to this point. No children were being born though, and at regular intervals segments of the population would ‘self euthanise’ (that was the term in the dream), so that by their sacrifice others may survive a little longer.

I was exempt from this. I seemed a scientist of some sort, or at least someone who might have an influence on the future. Hopes were pinned on me, and select others, that we might come up with a solution to save the world before it was too late. I was conscious of this, though not burdened by it. I went about, witnessing others prepare themselves for death, and observing the world with a keen and discerning eye. It was a dream laden with atmosphere.

And meaning too, methinks. It seems a pretty clear, though unusual, reflection of my own circumstances – in peril, on the edge, my world much constrained, but hopeful that I can find a way to survive. And up for the challenge.

Dogs & dreams

There’s no-one who would accuse Rigby of being well-trained. It’s not for want of effort, but in truth his innate high-spirits almost always over-ride his training. There are people who may turn up their nose at that, but I’ve always found it a part of his charm. He presents as he feels, which, more often than not is a happy, enthusiastic and tremendously affectionate dog. Chocolate Labs are notorious for being a bit crazy, but I’ve grown to love that unaffected nature so much that I don’t think I’d like it any other way.

For all his high jinks Rigby is pretty smart. He’s always been very quick to pick up on things, and always very observant. He doesn’t always understand, but he tries. One of the great sights is to watch him tilt and turn his head trying to decipher what I’m telling him, his ears notched with concentration. And thankfully, he was very quick to be toilet trained as a puppy – within a couple of days he knew it was outside for that.

For all his life he’s slept close to me, and often on the bed. We would go to bed together and in the morning wake up together. He never needed to go out in the middle of the night for a pee. We slept undisturbed.

In the last fortnight that’s changed. I reckon for about 10 of the last 14 nights he’s let me know that he needed to go. Around 3am is the magic time. I curse and cuss while he stands at the end of the bed looking at me in the dark. Then I relent, cursing still, and take him out.

I don’t know what it is. Getting old? Doubt it. A change of diet? Maybe.

All of this has had an interesting side-effect on me. I sleep great. Always have. Comes with an innocent mind. I go to sleep, and generally don’t wake until I need to get up. Now my sleep is being broken effectively I have two halves of the night.

I’m dreaming a lot lately for some reason. They’re often interesting dreams, but not always completely pleasant. It seems to me that I often have the more troubling dreams early in the night, and that getting up to let Rigby out acts as a circuit breaker. There have been times the break has come at a good time – when I’m in an unpleasant dream, or when the dream seems stuck in one of those interminable loops.

When I go to sleep again my dreams take on a different nature. Generally innocuous, occasionally they’re actually pleasant. In the last week I’ve had two interesting dreams (for those who don’t reading about other people’s dreams look away now).

The first dream was one of the unpleasant dreams. The details aren’t important in themselves, and are only sketchily recalled now. It’s the thrust of the dream that is notable, and the feeling it left me afterwards.

In this dream my mother has just died (though in an entirely different way to how she died in life). It’s a premature event that causes great sadness. The grief I felt in the dream felt very really, and similar to what I recall feeling when mum she died in fact. I woke from that and I seem to have been left with a message. It seems unrelated to the actual events of the dream, but that’s not surprising. Dreams aren’t necessarily literal, they are representative of the ‘vibe’.

The death of my mother is to me a familiar trope. It hits on a particular nerve. It engenders a particular set of emotions. That’s the vibe. I woke up with those feelings fresh in me. At the same time I felt it was telling me something, and the message was that it’s not all over. Watch out. You might think you’re getting clear, but be wary, and don’t assume it will be right.

No wonder I felt pissed at it.

The other dream I had last night. It was one of those splendidly curious dreams were strange things happen as a matter of course, and every possibility is feasible.

There’s a kind of real estate issue. There’s a woman in a property I need to convince to sell, or else kill her. Naturally. I meet with her. She’s pleasant and reasonable, but doesn’t want to sell, but nor do I wish to murder her.

Scene changes and I’m in a kind of festival. There’s stalls and presentations. I wander around, and then into a bar attached to it all. In the bar is the woman I just met, and two other women I know from somewhere. They greet me warmly, we sit down to have a drink. I’m in a good place. I’m particularly handsome in the dream, and people respond to me accordingly (which is very different to when you’re not handsome, let me tell you). We have a fine old time and I look at one of the other women – a very attractive blonde with character – and wonder why we never got together. She seems to be looking at me the same way. I feel an abundant personality.

I go for a walk. I go outside, past the shop I hoped to buy. The outlook is over the ocean, reminding me of South Head in Sydney. I keep going backwards and forwards, drawn seemingly to the ocean vista. The last time I return to the bar the girls have gone. There’s a feeling of missed opportunity. If only I had hung around. I go outside and there they are, waiting for me. All is good, and the dream ends.

There’s a lot feeding into this dream, little of which I’ll go into now. Suffice to say it’s all about me personally, the intimate me, and how I see myself. All good.