Children of an Idle Brain

In English, we use the same word for “sleeping hallucinations” and “fantastic goals.”  They are both “dreams.”  They are both suspicious, both frequently denied consideration.

I want to go to Africa.  That is a wide-awake dream.  I’ve wanted to go since I saw “Out of Africa” as a kid.  The main character was my hero: Isak Dinesen by pen name, and Karen Blixen to her parents.  She moves to Kenya to marry a cad and learns about the people there and builds a school in a well-intentioned, colonialist style, and makes a big mess of her life, basically, while she’s there.  She loses all her money, divorces, and (spoiler!) her lover is tragically killed.

As messes go, it’s a terribly romantic and fabulous mess.  An amazing uncontainable lover.  Syphilis.  Drinking great wine from crystal glasses in a tent surrounded by lions.  I planned to be Isak/Karen as a kid, and I sort of have become her, except for the syphilis and the lions.  For years, I’ve been planning this trip, and next summer is actually looking like a realistic time to do it.

I’ve been reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections.  Jung is a mystic with teeth.  He doesn’t goo out when he’s talking about the incredible.  He describes it, thinks about it, and lets it sit if it needs airing.  He’s very invested in dreams.  Sure, his dreams, like anyone’s, can get dull.  He edits them for us (in this book at least) and balances their detail with sly insight.

So I was eager to dream this week.  Here was my lame dream: I’m hanging out with these dream characters, and one of them is a man who is beautiful and fascinating and I want him desperately.  I go to my coworker’s house (she’s the only real character who showed up) and ask her what she thinks… does he like me?  I don’t know, she says.  He seems to have strong feelings about you, but I can’t tell exactly what they are.

This is how my dreams usually go.  A story about fear of rejection and romantic disappointment, and then I wake up and say, hmm, yes, I’m afraid of rejection and romantic disappointment.  Maybe I’m just not as deep as Mr. Jung.  No underground temples.  No skulls.

So, dreams and dreams: the brain narrates the day and the night, structures the day and the night.  And the goal dreams and the night dreams are braided together.  They both grow out of our heads.  They get tangled when unattended, and if you pay them too much attention, you become vain and nervous.  Dreams and dreams.

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