Hard remembering


I had a sleep soaked with dreams. Though I cannot remember most I have the sense that many were light-hearted and quirky. Pleasant, inoffensive dreams.

The one dream I recall more clearly was different. It was about mum, the first dream of her that I can remember since she died. Though the cancer that killed her is a central part of the dream she is alive throughout it. It seems we are preparing the way for when that terminal moment comes. It’s different to how it was – the world depicted is a fantasy, perhaps allegorical. There is something plain and simple in it, almost calmly measured. Dreaming of it made it hard, as if she was alive still and there remained the possibility of hope. The mum in my dream was my best mother.

I woke, and wondered what it meant. For a moment I wondered if there was a message in it for me; I even wondered if the message may be from her. As always, as is a frequent and regular occurrence, I felt a brief shaft of piercing grief.

Somebody stop me


The Mask (film)

The Mask (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I dreamt about a girl I used to know, and was friendly with. In the start of the dream we were good mates, if not more, and she was a happy, funny, individual and all-round captivating person. It made me remember what she was like, and wonder why I ever let her go out of my life. In the dream I was thrilled, I felt lucky, but some of this reality dribbled into the dream so that slowly it morphed into another version.

In version 2.0 the dream much closer reflected the reality of how we left it. We worked, or were pretty much in the same proximity as each other. We were polite when we had to be, but generally had nothing to do with each other: a barrier had been erected between us. I had a similar relationship to the others, as if I was a tolerated outcast. Surprisingly I did not feel despondent about this. I went about my things, a curious observer who still harboured hopes of a reconciliation. I felt, in the dream, very much a focus of her mind still, and as if occasionally I could discern a spark of life in our brief meetings. From there the dream went off in extravagant and richly imaginative directions, like a very entertaining Fellini movie at his most absurdly creative.

The dream – or dreams (though they seemed continuous) – were fun. It was good to recollect this girl in her glory, and to remember that actually once we had been pretty close, and that the dream was not that distant from the reality we once shared. All the same, I knew the dream wasn’t about her. She was a symbol I guess, representative of something else. What? I could speculate on that all day and come up with half a dozen different variations. I won’t bother with that, but somehow it leads me to other considerations.

I’ve written often in these pages about what I see as being two fundamental and opposing aspects of my self, restraint and excess, the ascetic and the bacchanalian. Right now I have a ascetic lifestyle imposed on me and it’s rubbing me up the wrong way. I itch to break free, to live a bit, to stretch my muscles and indulge my senses. A so-called balanced lifestyle should be the object of most people I guess, and though I think I’m different to most people mine seems seriously out of whack.

Perhaps because I am feeling this so starkly my mind has wandered into deeper matters. Traditionally I have framed these opposing ways in terms of lifestyle – drinking, eating, wenching to my hearts desire, and not (or perhaps, in moderation). I’ve twigged, much too late, that there is an underlying component of this which mixes philosophy with psychology. I am torn between different ways, and conflicted by the battle. That conflict has become a central part of my life. It’s time for me to own up to it.

Fundamentally I think I’m a decent man. I’m generally kind to strangers, I have a concern in the issues that affect us all, and I have a strong ethic towards ‘doing the right thing’ – whatever that might be. The responsible citizen in me wants to settle down with wife and children, wants to build a home, imagines a lifestyle much as I grew into as a kid – the dull, but cosy existence of being a homemaker, tending the garden, planning renovations, picking up kids from school, going on family holidays, et al.

There is another side of that though, what a shrink might call the shadow. This is the fun side, the Mask against Stanley Ipkiss. Back in the day I might have termed this the excessive half of my persona, the invitation to live big and don’t shirk the details. Over the years I’ve greatly enjoyed this life, and gone hard at it. At some stage always I tend to grow tired of it. It seems ultimately shallow, living for livings sake without any real sense of permanence or future. It’s all today, all now in fact, and so I drift back to the kind of aspirations that dull Stanley Ipkiss dreamt of.

The fact is I get a little guilty. I remind myself I’m getting older, that I should be more responsible. I tell myself that some of my excesses are unseemly, and betray a need to be still youthful. Truth be told there are occasions I wake up after another banal episode remembering that mostly reality doesn’t measure up to expectation. So, why do it?

Actually, there are many reasons. I love to be social. I love to drink, to eat well, to flirt, to fuck, to dare myself and others towards the edge. None of this is new to me, but they seem like facts I’ve tried to deny, or at least subvert, for many years. That middle class conventional side of my self thinks I should be Stanley Ipkiss or some variation of him. The other side yearns to be Hank Moody, or to slip on the mask and go for broke (“…somebody stop me.”). If I continue in this conflict I’ll end up like another classic cinematic character, Lester Burnham. That’s not what I want.

From a purely rational point of view it seems silly to deny who you are, but then human beings are generally irrational. I’m rationality personified in things external to me, but all bets are off when it comes to my self. Could I live that deeply domestic lifestyle I described above? Probably not – not in it’s entirety in any case. And though I love the sensual abundance I sometimes partake of I couldn’t live that way all of the time. The time’s come to be perfectly honest with myself.

I love to eat well, to drink, and I love to fuck a lot, and that’s not something that’s ever going to change, and god forbid that it does. This I have to own up to and quit denying. I’d rather have a warm breast in my hand than a pair of garden shears. That may well be my destiny, but there remains the hope in me that I come to experience some variation of the domestic scene I described above. I do want wife and children, and though I protest I’ll happily do some work in the garden and around the house – but I want more too. For me at least both ends of that spectrum are without soul if that is all they are. The trick is not to alternate between personas, but to integrate the two into one. That means owning up to the shadow without judgement, and applying some of the abundant pleasures inherent in that to that other, domesticated* side, to make them one.

What does that mean? It means I’ll continue to wench to my hearts content, and without judgement. I’ll stop when I feel it. One day hopefully it means I’ll wench and live some of that sensuality with my wife. I’ll mow the lawn sure, I’ll pick up the fucking kids from school, but I also want to indulge myself – ourselves – in the pleasures of being a physical being. Too much dear, is never enough.

*That’s a word, or inference I hate actually: domestic, domesticated, etc. It feels much like a horse being broken in, or a dog being neutered. It’s a collar around your neck. I don’t ever want to be domesticated, not all the way through. I think there’s a sense of wonder that is part of being undomesticated, and too easily lost otherwise. I want to be irrational and irresponsible sometimes, to go with raw instinct rather than measured intellect, to recall I come from primitive stock. I don’t want to fit into anything but my own skin. And I want to go as I feel, to colour in outside the lines as I get there. Part of that is to remember that nothing is pre-ordained, that there is nothing that I’m ‘meant to do’. There’s nothing wrong in digressing sometimes, or being selfish occasionally, and refusing to play the role others want you to. Wild is fun.

Changing the past?


Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris

Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Very uncomfortable night. I dreamt so much that I felt as if I didn’t get any rest at all. A few times I woke up thinking it was much later. Every time I lay there listening to the incessant rain outside. Then I would fall asleep again and dream once more.

I had one very interesting dream. It’s set sometime in the near future, the cities are in ruins and dinosaurs and lions roam the countryside. I escape from a pack of ravenous lions and pick my way cautiously through the remnants of the city. Most things are wrecked and looted, and the people seemingly disappeared. Here and there I come across people as I seek shelter and food while I wonder what has gone wrong – it’s as if I’ve been parachuted into the place.

I discover what happened in the fragments people tell me. Not long before, when society was at the height of its wealth, a time machine had been invented. It had been big news. A team of adventurers went back in time twice and returned with their fantastic tales. Everything changed though on their third trip into the past.

Even as they returned things were changing. Quite remarkably dinosaurs had appeared on earth along with other prehistoric creatures. They ravaged the countryside and overran the cities. It turns out that on their third trip into the past the adventurers had changed something, which in turn changed the future. Rather than the dinosaurs dying out they had lived, along with myriad other artefacts from the past. It was the doom of civilisation.

It’s a fascinating concept, and quite cinematic. I might write of it except that Ray Bradbury already has in one of his stories.

Anyway the dream goes on, and it becomes a quest to find the time machine somewhere in the ruins of the city and to go back to a time just before the third trip in order to prevent it – and to set things back to the way they were.

The dream ends before that happens, but along the way I have many adventures on the side. I remember too my mind being taken up in the paradox of time travel – of which there are many. I felt as if I was awake thinking these things in breaks in the dream, but I think that was an effect – this was part of the dream to, whatever it means.

What I couldn’t get my head around was the notion that if the past had been changed then there would have always been dinosaurs, rather than suddenly appearing as they did. And if there had always been dinosaurs then chances are civilisation would not have flourished as it did and the time machine would likely have never been invented – which means that the trips into the past would never have occurred and therefore the critical changes to the timeline would never have happened – ergo, the dinosaurs would have died out just as the history books tell us. Which means there would not have been dinosaurs about to prevent time travel…

It’s a variation on the grandfather paradox. You figure it out.

The go


It seems every year I have the conversation about how Autumn is my favourite Melbourne season. And if I were to pick a month March, with it’s combination of serene sunny days, the odd hot day remnant of summer, and the few more wintry days, is my favourite month too. It’s surprising how many agree.

It’s April now, but the weather is perfect, so perfect that everyone has cause to comment on it. The phone rings and someone says it as an aside. You buy a newspaper or visit the bank and it is mentioned as a fact of mutual pleasure. You think that if you were limited to a single weather pattern then this would be it, about 26 degrees, cloudless and sunny beneath the vast blue Australian sky, and just the whisper of a breeze. It’s easy to rejoice in weather like this.

The weather is a contributing factor to an improvement in my general demeanour. It’s been a week since my mum’s funeral, which seems so strange. It has passed so quick after time seemingly ticking by between her death and funeral. It is no bad thing.

While the weather is nice a dream I had last night has had a greater influence on my state of mind I think. It’s been a while since I had a positive dream. This dream had a message for me I think.

I was in a train on my way to meet with a potential client or employer. The train overshot my stop and I got off at the next station. I seemed to be in a more leisurely district with a lake nearby and people on holiday. I was in my suit. I wandered away from the station and somehow ended up at a nearby business. I met the owner, a youthful, pleasant, confident man, to whom I explained my situation. For some reason he seemed to take to me, and I instinctively warmed to him.

Though I had my credentials in my pocket and likely a spiel ready to be trotted out he looked at me without questioning them and offered me a job there. It seemed right somehow, and much more authentic than the usual rigmarole. He had sized me up and trusted me. I trusted him, and liked him too. It was clear he had plans and ambitions and was excited by what lay ahead. He saw in me something that could help him go forward, and as a partner in the journey rather than a minion. We were two men who had come to an understanding of mutual benefit.

Later I woke to feel myself infused with the spirit of the dream. The symbolism of overshooting my stop and missing my designated appointment seemed rich, especially given that it presented an opportunity to me that otherwise I’d never have known of. What did this mean? Have I been looking in the wrong place? Was what I really need/wanted elsewhere?

That’s how I took it. It’s how it felt. In bed awake I re-imagined in the context of my business. I began to articulate it in my mind much as I would if I spoke to this fictional ideal client. Sure, I thought, I’ll invoice you and you’ll pay me, but that’s only the commercial reality of doing business. What I really want to do is to work with a client who is excited by what we can do together. I want to stand alongside them in the bridge pointing out the opportunities ahead, and steering clear of the rocks. I want to partner with my client on the journey ahead, to build, create, to make something together.

I need to live, and want to live well, but to work simply for than is a pretty thin gruel, and does nothing for the soul. I want that journey, I need that challenge, I crave that excitement, and desire that partnership to make it so. If I could find that client as in my dream I would be delighted – mutual trust, ambition, and the same sense of excitement, that’s the go.