I awoke this morning with a head full of dreams. Reflections of the past, placed haphazardly in imagined settings. The face of a childhood crush. A world that perhaps could have been, but wasn’t. Or should that be isn’t?
It only happens occasionally. Fragments of my unconscious mind mash together in a whirlpool of fantasy, uncontrolled and mystifying. Sometimes scary. Sometimes fantastic. Sometimes steamy. It struck me this morning just how vivid and powerful dreams can be. One might wonder whether or not they hold some deeper meaning. They certainly move a guy to think and feel things forgotten deep in the recesses of the mind.
I’m not so certain there is any deeper meaning to dreams, as much as I’d sometimes like to believe so. But what is it that fashions such haunting scenarios? It’s not a conscious effort on my part, although sometimes I will attempt to keep the dream going – successfully – after waking, with varying degrees of control.
No. Dreams begin quite without any effort from me. The vast majority of them remain lost in the subconscious upon waking. I’m not in a REM stage of sleep, or I just don’t have time to reflect upon the content of the dream itself. If it’s not grabbed immediately by the concious mind, it quickly fades, like rays of light filtering through trees.
But like today, when I am successful in capturing the dream in my conscious mind, those times make me intensely reflective. Today I am whisked far back to my to my school days. Days when I was much less confident. Shy. Uncertain about life and the world. Uncertain about love and relationships. I would spend a lot of time wandering around thinking, doing jimonjitou. Quizzing myself for answers and reflecting upon situations before me, often in a melancholy state of mind.
I’m not quite sure how to describe it, this state of mind. It’s a sad, wistful feeling. One that is at once both empowering and destructive. Something that picks at old wounds of the soul, but also woos the mind into a sort of catharsis. It’s natsukashii, but not in a wholesome, satisfying way. It’s a sense of spiritual longing for things that once were.
What would have happened if I’d done that differently? Could that have ever worked? Why wasn’t I more assertive? Did I let the chance go? Why didn’t I cherish those moments more?
Ahh, it makes me smile sadly inside. Looking back at my old self. The guy I would tell so much to now if I only could. But undoubtedly that’s the power of hindsight, and perhaps I’ll be writing the exact same thing in 10 years about my current self.
And yet it puzzles me. Are these even different versions of my ‘self’? Perhaps they are just manifestations of different parts of what makes up me. Different combinations of switches, some set to ‘on’ and some set to ‘off’. Am I still the person I was all those years ago, or have I become something new and different now? I’m skeptical. I know that now I would do things differently, but back then, I felt powerless. I’m powerless now, as well, but in different ways.
I do know one thing. Pandering to fantasies and the days of the past is like a drug. It can be magnificent and moving, but ultimately it’s harmful. Staying too long in this wistful state of mind can destroy a person. I spent far too much time embracing the feeling in my youth, hoping as though it would teach me something. But it never did. I was only ever watching, mesmerised, the shadows dance on the wall of the cave.
Sometimes it takes a great effort to turn one’s head towards the light of the cave mouth. Away from the fire casting those shadows. But it’s the only way. The world of shadows and memories can never bring true fulfillment.