Cameras And Chasms

Straight Down

(From the Daily Mail)

I recently realized that this journal has been caught in a paradox: I haven’t been writing much not because I haven’t had anything to write about, but because of my writing habits. I’m a writer of the traditional sort, you see – I adhere tightly to beginnings, middles, and endings. There’s a multitude of things I could be writing about, but virtually all of them would break this formula and would essentially be thinking out loud, without a conclusion. For at least this one entry, though, I finally just decided that I’d have to forge ahead regardless of whether I had anything to wrap it up or not.

My dreams lately, while not more vivid or frequently remembered than usual (and lately they’ve been remembered less than usual), have featured some common and pretty obvious symbols. By “pretty obvious” I mean that they were obviously symbols; figuring out what they represent has been another matter entirely.

CAMERAS: Two weeks ago I dreamed about cameras for three nights back to back – more specifically, cameras that weren’t working. A little background here: I’ve been a zealous picture-taker since I was a teenager. I take pictures of (almost) everything, to the ridiculous point that an event feels lessened to me if I can’t get pictures of it. (To give you an idea of how deeply this runs in me, when I saw Westminster Abbey for the first time, on my first trip to Europe, my disappointment about it being closed for a special service when I got there was much mitigated by knowing that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside.)

In one dream, I was at an event with friends, but not able to use my standard camera, and the one I was using wasn’t taking pictures for some reason. In another dream, it was a family event (including a deceased family member), and apparently my batteries were dead. At a third I was on a hilltop overlooking the sea (also a common dream symbol lately – not just the sea, but viewing it from a high place), and again, I wasn’t able to take pictures.

The next week, I had a fourth dream where I was using my old manual film camera instead. No battery trouble this time! Once again I was standing on a high hill looking out over the sea. And I did manage a couple of pictures, though then ran out of film.

So what is that all about? I’m still guessing. Cameras for me are about preservation – preserving images and memories. I’m all about preservation in all kinds of other ways, too, including books, other documents, natural spaces, antiques, and so on. This isn’t an effort to hold back change, but rather to keep things from being lost entirely, forgotten, or both. So it’s possible that these dreams indicate that I’m not – or I fear that I’m not – doing a good enough job at this.

Or…they could be saying completely the opposite. One dream of family; one dream of friends; two dreams of a natural landscape containing lots of water, which also tends to represent spirituality and spiritual energy in my dreams. It may be that they’re trying to tell me I need to put down the “camera” and get out there more – engage family, and friends, and the landscape, and spirit, rather than stagnating in the effort to, for lack of a better way of putting it, freeze things in time.

CHASM: I won’t go into the whole dream here, but in one I found myself standing on the edge of a giant rounded protrusion, one of many, far beneath a giant bridge spanning the Grand Canyon, but still thousands of feet in the air. I was there along with thousands of other people on those many protrusions below, above, to the sides of me. It was a long, long way down.

But after a moment in the dream, on that perilous ledge, I started having my doubts. There were little things “wrong” here and there in the dream which got me wondering if I really was, in fact, dreaming. I decided to test this in true Indiana Jones fashion: I stood on the edge, lifted one foot into the air, and stepped forward…

…At which point I jolted awake. In a cold sweat with my heart and breath racing, but awake nevertheless.

(My palms still sweat a little bit when I think about that dream, for all that.)

That one’s also got a multitude of possibilities, but I’m most intrigued by the sense of risk-taking, of “jumping off” from a place of perceived safety, and the subtle but still present awareness that I was dreaming. Is my waking life only a sense of false safety? Is there a giant risk I need to be taking to get where I need to be? What would I really be jumping from?

This is another one of those dreams where I feel like I’m stupid for not figuring out something that should be smacking-in-the-face obvious, but there you are.


A month ago today I wrote about the strange but happy experience of waking up with a new body- and mind-filling sense of optimism and hope, the morning after spending most of a day suffering unusually persistent heart arrhythmias.  Update: Some of that optimism and hope persists, although not to such a thorough degree. Depression has poked at me now and again, though not in a sledge-hammering way.

What has developed, though, is a counterbalancing pessimism, but not of the personal kind that usually runs rampant through my brain. This has been pretty specialized, though, hardening and focusing into a specific topic: That communication with others, one way or another, will sooner or later become much more difficult than it is now. Details have been more nebulous, but one thing that I’ve considered is the Internet becoming much harder to use (which it likely would if the new president and FCC head do everything they’ve said they’re going to do concerning the Internet), or being able to access information.

There have been two odd (or maybe not so odd) results of this: First, despite the severe drop in personal book buying that followed my vivid death dream a few months ago, my impulses to start gathering books again has increased exponentially. (This has been aided and abetted in a big way by the discovery of several booksellers online that either unload many of their books for one cent to one dollar a piece, or sell cheap copies with free postage). Sometimes this means getting books of subjects that are or seem to be under attack right now (like climate change); in other cases it’s meant replacing a well-worn paperback with a much more durable hardcover copy.

Another is that my Logic Box has suddenly gotten louder. Or maybe I should say more insistent in things it was already saying anyway. For instance, it would always balk when I would visualize the Island as a place to escape to, to go away and be gone; but these past couple of weeks when I would slide back into that, it would yell at me that trying to go away and be gone like that is very wrong.

It always said that before, mind you, when it came to imagining the Island as an escape rather than as a shelter for a multitude. But now it’s both louder and more insistent, and coming along with the distinct feeling that not only am I where I’m supposed to be right now, but where I must be if I’m going to do…something…that I need to be doing or will need to do soon.

I don’t really know what that something is, but it’s looming there somewhere, and being very assertive about that whole looming thing.

And, just to throw in more complication, I don’t know if this contradicts the dream interpretation of risking a jump from false safety, or reinforces it.


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