One month on: dreams ahoy
Today is a portentous day. Today is one month since I left law.
Admittedly February is a short month (though longer this year than most), but it has felt like an age. In the spirit of commemorating such astonishing achievements as going longer than a month without a salary injection (and expecting more to come), I’ve put together a brief overview of the month, of where I’m at now and what’s changed.
The biggest change is one I doubt would occur to most people. I mean, yes, I’m happier. Yes, I wear daggier clothes more often (read: everyday. No one cares what you wear to art school) and take fewer photos of my outfits (no elevators... also, more interesting things in my day). Yes, my (daggy) jeans fit better (thanks happiness, who knew you were the diet secret everyone was searching for?).
But the biggest change is not a conscious thing. In fact, its not even when I’m conscious. The biggest change is in how I sleep.
I’ve always been what is termed a ‘good sleeper’. Cars, planes, airports, yachts, trains, strangers’ laps; I’ve slept in most of them. And once asleep, I stay asleep; equally unbothered by the semi-trailer outside my Redfern bedroom window or the marauding possums that like to conduct their hijinks on my Bungendore roof.
One caveat though. For the last five years, I haven’t dreamt.
I didn’t think this was weird. I kinda thought it was just adulthood. You gain some things, you lose others.
I used to dream as child. Sometimes I could recall my dreams – vividly terrifying scenes in which I was eviscerated by the submarine-drill from Bond’s ‘The World is Not Enough’ and joyfully transcendent moments of riding giraffes through undulating purple hills. Often, even when I couldn’t remember them, I knew that they’d come and gone. You see, dreaming leaves a mark, it fills a space that otherwise remains void. And that’s how I knew that it wasn’t that I wasn’t remembering my dreams – it was that I wasn’t having them to forget.
It happened in second year uni.
It took me a while to realise, for the hole that dreaming fills to get big enough for me to notice. Not that I took much notice. I was a little saddened but, as I mentioned, I thought this was part and parcel of growing up.
It actually took me years to realise that other people, other adults, still dream.
Then, last week, I had my first dream in nearly half a decade. I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember what it was. But I knew it had happened. To sound like one of those spiritual advisers on 3am free-to-air TV, I could feel it in the void (no but really, I could). Since then I’ve dreamt nearly every night. Most I can’t remember. Some I retain fragments of; the snippet of an image, the sense of recalled touch.
But what’s really interesting about all this is that I’ve noticed a (perhaps unsurprising) correlation between the resumption of my dreams and the expansion of my ideas and creative impulses.
I once watched a video where the performance artist Marina Abramović said if you were a good artist you had one idea in your lifetime and if you were a genius two. And I remember being genuinely abjectly stressed about my decision to go to art school because I felt I hadn’t ever had an idea and feared I might never… but now, a few weeks on, I positively overflow with ideas (not of the quality I suspect she was talking about but whatever).
Part of me feels I should capture these ideas, write them down and preserve them (so that at least one of them might be the one that Marina mentions). But in truth the feeling of them running through my brain and over my skin is just so beautiful I can’t bear to stop them. So I let them wash over me and sink without a trace; like droplets sliding into sandy soil.
Pretty soon I reckon I’ll have to get tough with them though… catch one or two and put them to work. After all, one of us will have to make a living.