When I was small and faced with a plate piled with the over-boiled cabbage I detested, my grandmother told me to eat it first… get rid of it… so I could enjoy the rest of the meal… and to save my favourite bits till last. Like many of the things she told me, I never forgot that advice. She was right too, that means there is always something to look forward to… even when life gives you cabbage. This works out quite nicely, as I saved the best bits of my last trip northwards until today… and it does my heart good just to look at the images this morning.
It was a strange night, last night. I, who generally burn the proverbial midnight oil, was forced to bed at an unreasonably early hour frozen and rather unwell. I spent the night drifting in and out of strange dreams. Of course, there were the inevitable reflections of my current preoccupation and I was editing and formatting in my sleep… sad, isn’t it? The rest of the night I was being taught.
It is quite odd, I had a conversation yesterday about the relevance of dreams. Most of the time they are, I think, simply the mind processing events and playing out emotions and worries symbolically, yet every so often there is one that has a deeper meaning. I lay there between the worlds last night, not quite able to surface enough to reach for the pen yet awake enough to know I wasn’t quite asleep. I watched and listened and learned. I remember being asked if I would remember the dream… and assuring my interlocutor that I would… and, of course, once fully awake I can recall only fragments of it on the surface, though I have no doubt that at some level it is all sinking in…
I don’t think it matters where this kind of dream comes from… and there are many theories, of course from the purely psychological to the rather more fanciful and even the deeply spiritual. What matters is the relevance and accuracy of the content and whether it makes a difference. Reading back over the page of scrawled notes from waking, I am pretty certain that they will… and if that is merely the subconscious ordering and presenting its thoughts, then I’m fine with that. We have a tendency to seek outside explanations for many things, and sometimes the wisdom is already there within, just waiting for us to draw it to the surface.
I have a feeling that we generally know the answers to the things that truly matter to us, even though we may attempt to fool ourselves into ignorance… because we don’t want to see, or cannot face the truth. We may feel we go along with things in a selfless spirit, or feel we are victims of circumstance… yet even this may not be entirely true. Even when events themselves are outside our control, we still have a choice in how we act and the motives behind our actions are often left unexamined through fear of what we may find. Yet, after all, most of the things that preoccupy us seem very small when placed against the backdrop of the wider world.
Looking at the pictures of the fabulous landscape I walked in just a few days ago, this is borne home in a profound way. We are the centre of our own universes, seeing everything in terms of how it touches or affects us. Individually we are very small and of little seeming importance. Most of us will never make a visible impression on the wider stage of the world. Yet we are each of us unique and part of a greater world in a very intimate way. Beautiful, magnificent though it is, we cannot even guarantee it exists except through our observation of it. In that respect, we are of ultimate importance and we owe it to ourselves and the world to look out with clear eyes and heart. Even, perhaps especially, when life serves you cabbage.