THE THINGS THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
I suppose I may have dreamed whilst I was in the womb. What those dreams consisted of is hard to say, probably vague unspecific feelings of pleasure or discomfort. A babies experience in the womb most likely consists of relatively unrefined sensation. Can they even dream? Is dreaming or the desire for something other than what is currently happening, dependent on having experience of there being a choice. If all you've ever known are the comforting susurrations of the womb, with no experience of unmuted light,freedom and sensory stimulus - would you nonetheless become bored with the darkness, and the attendant limitations to movement and sensation? Wouldn't you dream of it being different? Receptive and affected, but able to do little about the containing envelope of ones own Mother's emotional states. Wouldn't you feel an impulse to kick at the walls and rebel?
A babies birth can be a thing of wonder, yet also a pain filled process a mother goes through. But what on earth must the baby be feeling about it ? Does it want to stay put in the womb warmth that it loves and knows? Has it dreamt for weeks and months of being released into whatever is outside? It doesn't yet know that the outside world will feel colder, more exposed and feel less interdependent. To live in an unfocused brightness, a place of shadows and voices, that will leer out at you from the unknown. Recognising only the familiar tones of its parents voices. Does it fall into and welcome life, or is it reluctantly pushed? Expelled harshly from Eden.
Whilst pregnant with me, my Mother may have been understandably quite anxious. She'd had a miscarriage between my sister's and my birth, shortly before my inception. I know from what my Mother has told me,that my birth was prolonged; starting in the afternoon and on through the night. Until I finally popped out my head in the early hours of the 26th June 1957. I was, what was considered then, a very big baby. Very pink, very wrinkled and very hairy, apparently, and well over nine pounds in weight. In the early days of life asleep under fluffy blankets in my cot, what went through my mind? If I dreamt of anything specific, what was it I dreamt of? How seminal an influence on my attitude towards the world was the nine months I spent in my Mother's womb, and the emerging from it into the world?
As much as I might be tempted to conjecture about this, it would be futile. What makes us how we are is a complex tangle of crossed wires. It's impossible to fully know or unpick the philosophical underpinning, let alone the practical mechanisms of karma and rebirth. Not that it stops people putting huge amounts of intellectual energy into trying to unravel or dismiss them. So I'd best leave it there, and focus on to what I know and have experienced – The things that my dreams have been made of. Not the nocturnal, but the aspirational, the vocational, the ideal dreams I had, or still have for my life.
A child dream or see the need to become anything. They try on occupations as imaginative roles for play, they don't necessarily wish to become a King say, in later life. Nevertheless, this dressing up and acting out of an admittedly childish view of adult life, helps them learn through broad mimicry, how a person might choose to live, work and play. We try things on for size, copying how grown ups interact with the world, and find out what the consequences of behaving well or badly are. All from a position of little or no understanding of what an job might really entail. Nor whether we will have the necessary talents, opportunity or determination to take it up as a career in later life. As a child we wear our dreams lightly, with no sense of our making a longer term commitment,
I had a dream of becoming a fireman
As a child, I had a red trike. I threw anything I found in the streets into its swing lidded boot. Sometimes it would be leaves or earth, but quite often it was stones or nails. I just loved the way they loudly rattled as I tore around cobbled back streets, and up and down snickets, making one hell of a row. In addition I made ringing noises like a fire engine. The neighbours complained, but I remained fond of seeing myself as a fireman. A ragged shadow of this early enthusiasm passed briefly across my mind in my teens, as I imagined what my future might be.
I had a dream of going to Egypt
It's hard to say what initially sparked this. However, in 1956 ,the year before I was born, MGM's blockbuster The Ten Commandments, starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, was released. I remember excitedly queuing to see it as a very young child. Most likely it was this that fired my imaginative engagement. Whatever the prompt, the result for me was an early compulsion. From then on I avidly sought out and devoured any book about Egypt, and readily turned any tea towel into Phaoronic headdress. This imaginative engagement has stayed with me. In 1988,in order to fulfill a lifetimes desire I went there on holiday for three weeks.
I had a dream of making perfume
Fired up to become young entrepreneurs, a friend and I decided to become perfume makers. We started by collecting rose petals, well, we stole them really. Surreptitiously creeping along the gardens of our terraced street. Not paying too much attention to quality control, we just tore off flower heads till we had a bucket-load. I think to us perfume manufacture seemed the same as beer making. We soaked the petals in water as long as we thought appropriate, bottled up the result and went round the self same house we'd stolen the petals from, to sell them our 'rose perfume'. Well, there's capitalism in the raw for you.
I had a dream of becoming a vicar
When I was seven I had a good boy soprano voice. Being brought up a Methodist, there was no choral tradition. So my parents obtained me an audition to join the Halifax Parish Church choir. This expanded my horizons, and nourished my appreciation of church architecture, music and ritual. For in comparison to the stripped back simple services of non-conformism, the Church of England seemed a much more ancient,richer and emotionally engaging seam of devotion than I was used to. At home, I found two small candlesticks, a wooden crucifix, turned my desk into an altar and performed daily services for a while, casting myself as the vicar.
I had a dream of joining the Royal Navy
There was a school trip to see a Royal Navy ship in Goole Docks. All I remember now, is the pack of cards with silhouette pictures of navy ships I was given. Never particularly fit or combative, I suddenly wanted to join the Navy. A life of heroic action wasn't what I wanted, it was to ride on the ocean waves. I'd read adventure novels so I had a fictional conception of what this might entail. The desire was to explore what the wider world was really like. I discovered I was largely an adventurer in carpet slippers. So a life in the Navy, was not to be.
I had a dream of becoming a historian
My early reading about Ancient Egypt, Kings & Queens of England and Church architecture, built the foundations for a lifelong fascination with history. As a child I wanted to read about people and events that actually happened, and not entirely imaginary versions. I thought then that perhaps I'd become someone in the world of history, maybe an archaeologist. No one seemed able to tell me what else might be done with a love of history. Unable to discover what my options with history really were, I turned my face in an entirely different direction. History became demoted to an enthusiasm, not the personal vocation I had originally envisaged.