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.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Pete:
And, this is, we feel, the perfect season for getting out and about more! The unmistakeable nip in the air in the early morning is evident even here in Budapest where the daytime temperatures are still 30C+. But, we are already planning visits to castles deeply hidden in the Hungarian countryside which are impossible to contemplate in the searing summer heat and have armed ourselves with a mountain of books to be read as the nights draw in. Oh, this is such a glorious time of year, so whatever your dreams may or may not signify, go out and enjoy!!!

Librarian said...

Your interpreations of what the dustbins-dream could possibly mean are as valuable as the dream itself - your mind worked on something while you were asleep, and now your mind is trying to work out what it was really working on. What possible interpretations you come up with is, in itself, interesting enough and can act as a pointer towards the direction your mind was already going anyway.
Therefore, if I were you, I would not discard (!) the dustbins-dream as being too mundane, but even if none of your own interpretations should really mean something for you, at least see the humoristic side that it undoubtedly has.
The Freudian approach to a lot of things is, in my opinion, way over the top. A lot of the time, I am convinced explanations are not even necessary, because deep down we know quite well what's bothering us. And sometimes, a dream is... just a dream.

Symbols are used in our mind when we are awake, so why shouldn't they be used when we are asleep, too? Years ago, I dreamt I found the mummified of a dead child under my bed. It wasn't scary or spooky, just left me with an incredibly sad feeling. When I woke up and remembered the dream, I knew that it was my mind's way of coming to terms with something in my life (not a person) being well and truly gone, having died, so to speak.

Librarian said...

Bloody hell! Usually I am really good with word verification, but it took me three attempts to post my comment above!


I enjoy thinking about my dreams, but feel no need to analyse them. I usually wake with a feeling which tells me all I need to know. I dreamt my friend's father Roy died the other night, but I've seen him looking like he's on borrowed time on plenty of occasions, so I won't find it spooky if he does pop his clogs soon.
The dream you've described reminds me of a series of dreams I ten to have which either involve me losing something, getting lost or failing to complete a simple task. I wake up feeling pathetic and a bit sorry for myself, there's an edge of uneasiness to it too.
I'm not sure what my stance on dream interpretation is, but I do think it's possible to to teach yourself how to have lucid dreams.
Japan featured heavily in last night's dreams, I felt very connected to the Japanese people I met and ended up talking them into letting me immerse myself in a thick soup type liquid in order to fly into space without a helmet. Sounds really crap, but it was quite sensible at the time.

PerlNumquist said...

Jane & Lance, I do like Autumn, don't get me wrong. The transition is especially the part I enjoy. But It does feel so much more businesslike than Spring and Summer.
As for dream interpretation: Well they came and collected all the rubbish and recycling so if that dream reappears then i will know it is not a mere reflection of the mundane.
I remember the aliens in UFO had a thick soupy kind of liquid inside their helmets that they breathed. Makes you wonder what it would be like if they ever had a cold.
I wish I could have lucid dreams though. I would never bother to come down for breakfast.

Jenny Woolf said...

I've been trying to put my finger on what it is exactly that makes me realise that summer has turned into Indian summer. It's happened very early this year.

Kay G. said...

More than anything, I think your dreams show your worry and anxiety over your brain. You see, before you might have just dismissed something as forgetfulness but now you worry it might be something else. And ALL of us have those same worries as we age.
I wish you peaceful dreams.

Kay G. said...

And Meike, it took me 3 attempts too!