Monday, 3 September 2012

Follow your dreams (to the dustbins)

The air smells different today. I couldn't say why. Smell seems to lack a coherent vocabulary to describe its characteristics. It is September and though no Summer was really forthcoming this year, the scent of crispness that displaces that of cleaning products and cooking smells, greets my previously housebound nose unexpectedly and I find it somehow viscerally disappointing without really knowing why. 
If Summer implies freedom, friendship, picnics in parks and carefree laughter on sunny days (though in reality this rarely happens. But the illusion persists despite our experience.) then surely, the onset of cooler, darker seasons must imply the loss of such freedoms: The closing down of "outdoors" and the moving to the smaller more isolated spaces of our social lives.

But today, the differences in the air brought by the changes to vegetation and meteorology appear to suggest a more profound change of emphasis with regard to mood. A more introspective, calmer period is dawning: The resumption of "Real Life" after the frivolity of summer days demands our sensible attention.

Ok, so there weren't really more than a handful of long, warm days this year. Summer was officially a washout. The worst, wettest, coolest here in over a hundred years. But the days were long, if filled with unreliable weather.
This morning, on my way to work, people seemed more focused, less jaunty. There is a sense that it is time to be serious now and to shoulder responsibilities more diligently. The time for carefree is over for now. Time to settle back into routine.

I awoke form a dream where I was in Helsinki and had to get to the airport to catch my flight home, but could not find a taxi. I walked unfamiliar streets that looked a bit like Birmingham and a bit like Oslo, and got increasingly agitated at the growing probability of not getting to the airport in time.
Then as dreams are wont to do, I was at home in my bed with no confusion at the sudden discontinuity. But the bin men were coming and there was a panic in my head because the garage is full of cardboard, the black bin is full of general rubbish and I could not remember which day it was to put out which bin. In my dream, I hauled impotently as I struggled to haul a green wheelie bin over huge bags of discarded cardboard packaging to the drive where the truck was already moving past to the next house.

I am not a believer in the symbolism of dreams. That the unconscious should construct elaborate metaphors involving snakes, horses, cardboard or thwarted travel plans seems unlikely. If I was concerned about the direction of my life, surely it would just say so by providing a dream in which I changed my job or moved out to live on my own? It wouldn't couch it in oblique terms of domestic waste and impossibly cluttered garages. Would it?
Perhaps the above is telling me that my life is full of baggage and if I don't sort it out, time will have passed and I will have missed the time for opportunities, whatever my unconscious might deem those to be. Or maybe I am just fed up with the enormous amount of recycling piling up in my house and don't want to be domestically immobilised by another two weeks' worth.

However, the very fact that I find myself dreaming of such mundane scenarios must surely ring alarm bells. Does life become so grindingly quotidian that rather than dreams providing us with unexplained powers of flight, exotic locations, or even nocturnal physical dalliances, it instead fills our sleeping emotional landscape with concerns about refuse collection? I would be perfectly happy to discuss possible meanings by the way. Perhaps I am mistaken and dreams do contain profound truths about our states of minds. It's just, the Freudian approach sound so "made up" and when given to such flights of fancy, anything can mean anything. It becomes subjective and unhelpful opinion. But I am willing to hear anyone's hypotheses on the subject.

However, with the winding down of outdoors life and summer pursuits, it seems the return to routine is having rather too prominent an effect on my unconscious which may be manifesting as dreams about dustbins.

Perhaps I really just need to get out more, despite the season.