I had a dream. It was a conglomeration of many things. In the first part, it seemed as if I was haunted by ghosts. I prayed for them to leave. In the second part, I was in a shopping mart, staring down the frozen section of meat and cold tofu. The third part was the most beautiful. I was in a swimming pool stadium, surrounded by acres of water, the colour of aquamarine. It seemed to stretch on for miles. Diving inside, I found I could open my eyes, and breathe underwater. Somehow, my dream self recognized that this was not meant to be possible, which lead to a genuine element of surprise. It was almost as if I expected pain. But I did not question it for too long, because I soon found myself going deep, and swimming.
I swam for miles and miles. There were some people in the swimming pool, but I can’t recall their faces. They were far away, their voices like echoes. All I remember was a white, pure, and clean feeling. Dream-water, it turns out, is as light as air. I could have gone on forever.
Alas, I woke up to the beeping alarm of my bedroom, my toes curled from the dawn of a cold morning. I think I sat there for a few minutes, trying to grasp at the dissolving visuals of a dying dream. They dispersed quickly, like sea-foam receding back into the ocean of my subconscious. Before I knew it, it was too late, and I had crossed the border between being asleep and awake.
What I’m writing now are but remnants of that dream. I’m afraid I can’t recall much.
Now here’s the interesting part. I like to do this thing where I read up on the meaning of my dreams, especially if they’ve left an emotional impact on me. Legitimacy of dream analysis aside, I like to take my subconscious thoughts seriously. At the very least, I know that I’m scraping the raw core of my emotions and thoughts, something I have no control over. If you would just allow yourself this, you might unearth things about yourself you never knew existed. This is what dreams of “swimming” supposedly mean:
To dream that you are swimming suggests that you are exploring aspects of your subconscious mind and emotions. The dream may be a sign that you are seeking some sort of emotional support. It is a common dream image for people going through therapy. To dream that you are swimming underwater suggests that you are completely submerged in your own feelings. You are forcing yourself to deal with your subconscious emotions. To dream that you are swimming away from someone or something indicates that you are avoiding some deep emotional issue. You are refusing to acknowledge and confront your feelings because it may be too painful or too fresh. In particular, if you are swimming away to escape danger or death, then it suggests that you are letting fear take over your actions. You are afraid of change. To see children swimming in your dream indicates that you need to adapt a more carefree attitude. Dream Moods
I’ve bolded the bits I found especially relevant, in context to how I’ve been feeling lately. Was I trying to comfort myself, without realizing it? Was I trying to tell myself something? Perhaps there were hard truths I needed to confront, a can of worms I needed to reopen. Did I need to break myself again? What? So soon? After all that trouble I went through, repackaging it neatly within me, so I could plug every darkness, every slithering shadow? I couldn’t.
I don’t want to think about it.
I find, that more often than not, the answers to the questions we ask ourselves are often already within ourselves. Perhaps it is acceptance of these answers which takes more courage, and it can potentially be the harder part of the equation. We all have inner compasses, and they can be a lot more accurate than we give them credit for. If you are deeply unhappy, if you wake up every morning with an emptiness within you, if you feel like you’re missing out on a bigger, greater, more beautiful something – you might just be right. My happiness litmus test is pretty simple. All I do is ask myself,
- “Are you more often happy with instances of sad, or more often sad with instances of happy?”
- “Would you rather live in your dreams or your reality?”
If there’s an imbalance, one way or another, something is still off-colour. But then again, human beings are highly resilient to pain. Much more than we realize. This is deceptively counterproductive, because we can easily confuse persistence with false hope, or settling for a “less than truth”. And sometimes, we aren’t entirely wrong. Time heals, right? If you commit to something long enough, things might change. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, they genuinely do, for the better. If it’s not causing you enough distress at the moment, it might not feel broken. In that state of “neutrality”, we are more often than not, happy to remain right where we are. That’s not inherently wrong. It makes logical sense.
Un-rooting is incredibly effortful. Entropy is incredibly uncomfortable.
When we’ve set the momentum for something, when we’ve invested ourselves deep enough in something, we don’t want to hear that we’ve had it all wrong from the start. Think about it. What if the truths we’ve known our whole lives, the identities we’ve carefully constructed, what we think we know, what we accept to be true, what we believe in… what if everything was completely flipped over? What if we had to break and dissolve the foundations that have been the very core of our identities, and start over, from scratch?
Leaving a hollowed shell of a broken relationship. Acknowledging that the business just isn’t taking off. Realizing that someone you’ve respected your whole life is a fraud. Taking a completely different path after 5 years of studying for a specific degree. Being fifty, with a lifetime’s worth of drugs shooting up your veins, or coming home to an empty dinner table, and finally admitting, you screwed up. You got it wrong, and you’ve known it best yourself, perhaps a long, long time ago.
Is it ever too late to change? I don’t know. Perhaps the better question to ask would be: “Can you live with how things are, if you kept going on like this? Could you even (dare you say it), almost come close to being truly happy? Are you at peace?”
For what it’s worth ( and I think I can vouch for this), I don’t believe that any time, money, or effort you’ve put into something or someone, regardless of whether it turned out horrible or if it turned out fine, is a “waste”. You can’t call something that has been an integral part to your growth as a human being a “waste”. If you learnt something, and it taught you something, as painful as it was, it was not a “waste”.
It was possibly necessary, sometimes infuriatingly so.
I will leave you to ponder with a quote:
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay
Whatever stage you are now in your life, I hope you find exactly what you need, in places you’re absolutely meant to be, with people you’re absolutely meant to meet.
Take care, Seafarer.
(note to self: please be more disciplined about writing you coach potato bum excuse of a human being)