Dreamscapes and Their Kin

Strange dreams last night.

I was in a  Japanese shipyard, where ships were being launched from an enormous automated contraption that suspended huge cargo ships along a track perpendicular to the waterfront. At the  very end of the track, the ships spun ninety degrees and slid down into the water. I somehow hung unto the railing of several of these ships as they made the ninety degree turn into the water. Japanese men snatched me as I dangled over the water and returned me to an observation spot way back dockside, away from the water, where another ship came by and I did the same thing again. What I found most fascinating was the enormity of the ships. They were the length of several football fields. And I had the sense that they were being assembled at high speed in a factory setting, perhaps several dozen ships per day. I do not know how I knew the shipyard was Japanese. I saw no writing, nor any indication I was in Japan. Only people who I knew, somehow, were Japanese.

Different dream, I assume. I was in a high-rise building in New York, where I shared an apartment with people I did not know. My bedroom was just off an elevator lobby, as were at least two other bedrooms. Another door from the elevator lobby was a bathroom. The toilet was stopped up. I needed to use the bathroom, so I took the elevator to the building lobby. I went outside the building to find a bathroom and walked around the block, but somehow I got turned around and confused and found myself in a run-down neighborhood where buildings with broken windows sat unoccupied and decaying. At some point, I decided to turn around and go back the way I came, but as I did, I realized darkness had fallen and there were no street lights nor any sidewalks. I was walking in the right lane of the street. Cars came up behind me and swerved around me. I expected to be hit any moment.

Perhaps as part of the same New York dream, but not sure, I left a high-rise building and followed a pathway through a large park-like area away from the building. At some point as I was crossing a huge field, I noticed the ground was wet. It got wetter the further I walked until, suddenly, I stepped into a puddle of sticky mud an inch deep. Mud splashed up on my pants leg and covered my shoes almost up to the laces. The shoes were made of a light violet-colored felt-like material. Ahead of me, people who had walked through the same path that I was walking had reached the street, where they were rinsing their shoes and lower legs at a fire hydrant that was spraying water to the side.


I remember thinking the grey sky a few days ago looked “sullen.” To me, sullen connotes subsurface anger, displeasure, and an unwillingness to engage. So when I thought the sky was sullen, I was ascribing human characteristics to it. Anthropomorphizing it. When people speak or write of animals or inanimate objects  (or large swaths of the universe) as if they share qualities with humans, I think they (we) either are minimizing the superiority of the physical world around us or elevating our own importance and influence. Or both. Yet, perhaps, the universe and everything in it is a living, breathing organization; we might well need to dramatically expand our understanding of the context  and definitions of “living” and “breathing” to better understand the universe. I seriously doubt that the universe possesses what we would call consciousness, but I suspect our definition of consciousness is small and feeble. I do not mean to say, in any respect, that the universe is god or God or almighty or Almighty. But this collective existence of things and space and stars and galaxies and endlessness is something beyond my comprehension.


Mortality is on my mind of late, courtesy of my selfish view of the universe. I like the idea that we are made of stardust and we will eventually return to stardust. But I’d rather like my return, and that of everyone I hold dear, to hold off until the end of time. That’s a play on words, by the way. Time, I think, is a construct to help us understand change. Change cannot occur, in our myopic view of the universe, without the passage of time. We look back in time and we remember what we did or did not do that makes us proud or full of regret. And we know we cannot correct mistakes already made. And we have to recognize that past mistakes shape us as we change, i.e., move forward in time. Regret is made of memories we’d rather not have living in our brains. Mortality wouldn’t be such an onerous concept if it didn’t share a place in our minds with regret.  Oh, I do wish I could change so many things about who I was and who I am. One doesn’t often think of such things so much in the invincible years of youth. We’re advised to never look back, to always look ahead to how we can be better and live better in the future. “You can’t change the past, but you can change the future.” Yes, to an extent. But the extent of change depends on the available future. Back to time and change, though; I wonder if time can be slowed by examining each element of change with a microscope? I’ll not test the theory.


Solvent means “having the power of dissolving.” (Among other definitions.) Solvency means “the ability to pay all just debts.” Insolvency means “bankrupt.” I’m of a mind that one could become rich if he or she developed a superior caustic that would erase bankruptcy.

“Just spray Solvitol on your bank statements and those fingers that just itch to spend money, wait half an hour, and presto! No more insolvency.”

I think I’d rather have a U.S. government-approved printing press and the appropriate plates and ink so I could print twenty-dollar-bills. Not that I’m insolvent, mind you. I’m just your average American citizen, consumed with unspeakable greed and living under the assumption that money can solve all problems, big and small. Lung cancer? For the right amount of money we can turn back time and remove that tumor with video-assisted-thoracic surgery. Mortality creeps in to every damn conversation! I can speak about a bowl of milk and wonder how long before it goes sour. Morbid! (Just kidding, you know.)


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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