I had a dream...

musings

I had a dream...

We all dream, even those of us who claim not to — good dreams, bad dreams, wild dreams, strange dreams... In fact, dreams feel real while we’re in them. No wonder, offering a quick peek into his dreams, Ruskin Bond admits how dreams have always played an important part in his life...

Dreams have always played an important part in my life, and sometimes I wonder if we live two parallel lines — one based in the everyday reality of a physical existence, and the other a dream world which has its own reality, elusive, tantalising, and yet in its own way real...

I don’t think scientists have yet got around to explaining our dreams — or they haven’t really bothered, being too busy with the externals of living. Obviously, a part of the brain remains active while we are asleep; but it isn’t just a matter of random images projected by the subconscious mind. There is often a logical procession of events leading on to something of significance; a sequence that is often cut off before we arrive at the conclusion of the journey.

Do dreams foretell the future? I don’t think so. I don’t have prophetic dreams. But sometimes they reflect, or illustrate, my own preoccupations, needs, desires, omissions, insecurities...

As a boy I would sometimes record my dreams, and those are the ones I remembered best. Dreams of adventure — adventures that I couldn’t possibly experience in my ‘normal’ life — such as playing games with fairies, or escaping from boarding school in a balloon, or living amongst chimpanzees like Tarzan, or — such a horrible dream — having a birthday party with nothing for the guests to eat. Occasionally there were nightmares, and in these, of course, I managed to wake up before being seized by some unidentifiable monster.

But some dreams are so pleasant that we would like them to continue. Something wakes us up, and although we might succeed in falling asleep again, that lovely dream remains elusive — lost forever, like a brief moment in which some former existence is recalled.

But our dreams are not memories of a former life. They are linked, in some indefinable way, to this life — influenced by books or pictures or people or current events. Sometimes in my dream I have had a companion — a younger person, leading me by the hand, accompanying me through a situation of some danger or risk. That mountain road, that shootout through the pines, the winding path to the valley, the trail through the forest, they recur again and again. Sometimes I am full of confidence, and I leap across wide chasms and down crumbling mountain slopes and I reach my destination with no problem at all. At other times I lose my way, end up in mysterious unfamiliar surroundings, helpless until a small boy takes me by the hand and leads me to safety.

Yes, there is always someone there to take me by the hand and walk behind me. Not so in real life. I have good people to care for me now, but for many years I was on my own, without the backing of friends or family.

“I’ll walk beside you through the world today...”
The perfect companion — man, woman, boy, dog or parrot — is hard to find. But once found, hold on to that person with bands of steel. Solitude may sometimes be necessary to the artist, but loneliness can be crippling.

And so to dreams...

Naturally the ones I remember best are those recurring dreams which usually signify insecurity of some kind or another; insecurity having been a part of my working life from boyhood to this day.

In one of these dreams I am on my own in a forest bungalow, relaxing on an arm-chair on the verandah, when I see a massive tiger approaching the bungalow. I run indoors and bolt the front door. A window is open. From it I see the tiger again, much nearer now. I close the window; remember that a back door is open. Run to the back of the house and close it. Another window has to be shut. The bungalow is full of doors and windows, and the tiger is circling the house, coming closer all the time. Thump, thump, thump, the tiger is thrusting its weight against that flimsy front door. A crash, and the tiger is framed in the doorway — and I wake up!

Well, we always wake up just in time, don’t we? I have yet to dream of being chased up by that hungry tiger. But perhaps it will get me some day or night, and then dream will have become nightmare!

Who does that tiger represent, I wonder. Publishers? Landlords? Employers? The law? Or simple lawlessness...

Then there is the 5-star hotel dream.

I have been staying in this luxurious 5-star hotel for a couple of weeks. It’s the Taj, Bombay, I think. Someone is supposed to be paying for my stay, but that person fails to turn up. And I don’t have the money to pay for the mounting bill. The days pass, and I am being well looked after, but it’s time for me to leave, and at any moment I am going to be confronted by a bill that I cannot possibly pay. What will they do to me? Once again, I wake up just as the bill is about to be presented.

No wonder I’m wary of staying in expensive hotels. I have a better chance with that tiger. It’s one against one. But that hotel represents the world — smiling, but unforgiving, out to get me!

Still, not all dreams are threatening or disturbing. Some can be quite pleasant, even funny.

The dream I liked (and made a note of) had me playing football on a frozen lake somewhere in China! And yes, it was football (my favourite game) and not ice-hockey. I remember the football bouncing beautifully on that frozen lake, and whenever I gave it a kick it would light up like a star, and every time it bounced it gave off sparks.

What a lovely dream! I don’t think the players had any opponents — we just kicked the ball around as it lit up the night sky with its starry glow. And then the ice melted, and I was in a small boat with a fishing rod in my hand. Something was pulling on the line. I pulled it in, and a beautiful starfish landed in the boat. “At last you’ve caught something,” said my companion (whose face I never saw). And there the dream ended.

If there are more like that one, I’ll take a chance with the tigers and 5-star hotels.

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