Strange dreams seem to have been an unwanted feature of my life for a couple of days.
Some are recurring and not worth mentioning – but last night saw an entirely new variety arrive that I’ve never had before.
In this particular variant I was with some people (mostly a variety of random but well known public figures) and realised that each time one of them moved further away from me they came back much older than when they were near.
I woke up, realising that this was just a dream and that their advanced age was something to do with time moving faster for things further away from me than it was nearby.
I went back to sleep thinking that was that – but in my next dreamscape I was popping out to get a lettuce (yep I’m even DREAMING #onplanoctober eating at the moment!) and when I returned everyone was again older.
In some cases the things further away were gone completely and even the surrounding buildings had turned to dust.
I awoke once again, realising that in this dream it was loved ones that disappeared when further away from me rather than random famous people.
Noting it down in my phone I once again turned over and nodded off.
Then in a booming voice my inner monologue took control of my next dream and shouted at me ‘if failure was impossible WHAT WOULD YOU DO?‘
I remember being paralysed and unable to answer the question – instead meekly replying that I wanted an ‘absence of want’ (oh the irony) in my life.
So – there’s a whole host of things to unpack and sift through today.
- A fear that stepping further away from my comfort zone will result in loss
- A concern that true change means that loved ones will drift away
- A fear of failure causing a degree of paralysis
- Guilt that I still covet material possessions (I really want the new Apple Watch) when I absolutely want to be anti consumerism.
As always walking seems to help – and I gave up trying to get uninterrupted sleep at 6.30am to hammer out 6 miles around the park.
Putting one foot repeatedly in front of the other doesn’t appear capable of providing any concrete answers though – but instead enabled a grudging acceptance that this sudden flurry of multicoloured dreams is a natural process.
I’m mentally decompiling after leaving my most recent place of employment – and my mind is still trying to make sense of it all.
I know I’m still questioning why I have such profound guilt about not having a job, when I know that I’m a burden to no-one and I’m supporting myself.
If this is that case what does it matter if I take a while out to reflect on what comes next and enjoy life?
The answer is it doesn’t matter at all – yet I’m still stuck in the mindset (which a friend referred to last night as a Protestant work ethic) that I should be doing something at all times to make me a ‘productive member of society’.
The book that I’m still dipping in and out of on Chinese philosophy (The Path) from a last week is obviously resonating with me and I find that I’m either consciously or unconsciously returning to bits and pieces of it throughout my day.
This is the one that’s still on my mind currently.
Mozi – on of Mencius’s contemporaries held a worldview that there are certain stable factors that can be counted on in a world that is largely coherent – and this assumption affects our decisions.
For Mozi and his followers, Heaven was a moral deity who laid out clear guidelines of right and wrong. Humans had to follow these guidelines in order to live a good life. If they did, they would be rewarded; if they did not, they would be punished.
We are stable selves who live In a stable world. We should act as rational-choice agents, calculating what will benefit us and what will cause us harm. If we look within, discover who we are, set out a plan for how we can flourish, and then work hard to fulfill that plan, we will prosper and grow as we should. In short, we are Mohists.
His philosophical writings sketch out his vision of a just society in which anyone who worked hard would prosper.
The counterpoint to this is that if you accept that everything is ordered and life outcomes are both quantifiable and consistently achievable through established methodologies (train hard and you’ll succeed) then the world essentially becomes a transactional place.
If you simply do what you need to do to prosper then you’re not doing things because they’re the right thing to do you’re instead doing them because they will ultimately benefit you.
This is of course a reductively simplistic way of looking at things – and the reality is that society needs a level of structure.
The generally accepted truth is that you can statistically improve your chances of success by doing certain things such as studying for qualifications or building stamina for a marathon.
However this view fundamentally ignores the truth of the world – and that is that our structures sit atop chaos.
They are applied so that we can cope with the underlying uncertainty of everything that surrounds us and they allow us to remove a potentially constant worry about what will happen to us in the future.
It’s all an illusion though.
I spent three years studying for a degree to become something that never came to pass.
Marathon runners might train for a year and then trip over a pavement slab just before the finish line.
You may climb the corporate ladder your entire life only to be made redundant suddenly with no severance pay.
The reality of our existence is that there is NO certainty – but the question this poses is how do we embrace chaos and move forward when we’ve been taught throughout our whole lives to live within a framework of order?
I don’t know.
There’s a middle ground somewhere that I’ve yet to find.
I’m definitely going through a period of existential questioning at the moment (this isn’t a bad thing – it’s a growth spurt) and I’m just going to have to hunker down while it works itself out.
In the meantime today I’ve been out twalking and exploring woods with a friend – and I’m happy to say that amongst trees there are still reassuringly ‘holey’ holes in the floor.
I like to illustrate this by pointing at them.
I love a good hole.
You can’t beat one.
Well – unless you consider mushrooms – because woodland ones trump holes.
Whilst my day may have started with me questioning the nature of the universe and my place in it – the remainder of my day was actually spent just being thankful that it was there in the first place.
I once again visited the Lickey Hills with my friend – and it represented a day of personal triumph for her.
Around seven months ago she fell over while we were walking here and badly damaged a ligament in the process (link).
Today was the first time we’d been back – and we picked a lovely time of year to do so.
Broadly speaking we followed the red woodpecker trail (around four miles or so) which was absolutely lovely.
It’s not too undulating – and it’s a really gentle and relaxing stroll for the most part – so it’s highly recommended if you’re moderately fit or recovering from an injury like my companion.
While the skies remained steadfastly grey (they turned irritatingly blue on the way home) the forest canopy and floor was a riot of interest and colour.
Autumn has to be one of my favourite times of year.
There’s a small sweet spot in this season where everything is green in the canopy above and everything looks red or orange underfoot.
Around about now is that time and because of this I’m often more fascinated with the floor than I am the treeline – which was completely peppered with acorns and chestnuts.
Sure – grey skies aren’t as nice as blue, and I already miss the summer but you really can’t beat being surrounded by nature.
It’s certainly better than the comical stuffed animals in the visitor centre – which don’t appear to have been dusted or shown any love since the last time.
The fox still looks very sorry for itself.
And the squirrel still looks like it’s seriously cranky.
Mr rabbit has also seen many many better days – but I love him nonetheless.
So – despite being dogged by odd dreams I’m convinced that today is a great day to be alive.
I’m #onfire with #onplanoctober and #fuddinglovinit.
If you aren’t already exploring the woods or going for a morning walk then I suggest you do so now.
The shorter days are on the way and you need to make the most of the daylight internet!