“I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals”


That title gives off a common view. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to let go of my goals.”

Well then, at that point you’re already in trouble.

If you can’t imagine each element of your goals, then you risk never reaching them – even when it is the act of giving up on them.

We need to imagine what it would be like to let go of our goals, because in doing, we understand everything which is at stake.

Why not go imagine what it would be like to let go of your goals?

Here’s a true story. About dreams and a nightmare


Truth and dreams don’t generally get put in the same sentence. But then, those who spend too much believing things to be true don’t dream.

Luckily, plenty of dreamers don’t get too hooked up on what is true. At the very least the idea of truth reshapes itself after while.

I’m going to continue my journey of honesty today, opening up about a strange part of myself I haven’t talked much about before. My dreams. This is post is more a narrative rather than my usual thinking through of something, because I’m as confused about it all as you probably will be if you read it the whole way through.

I’ve been interested in dreams for a long time, but only the last few years have I become really interested in them, and for a singular reason. Because I questioned why they had gone.

A large proportion of adults don’t think they dream anymore. It’s not the case, but I’m not here to talk about the science/psychology of dreams today and for the sake of reducing convoluted language, I stopped dreaming for most of my teenage years. I didn’t think much of them disappearing and this strikes me as really odd – as will be highlighted when I tell the background of my dreams in just a brief moment – because they play a pretty dramatic role in childhood.

Why do so many of us accept the disappearance of dreams, and why do we have to discount such beautiful experiences as ‘not real’ and hence ‘not important’?

Now I have been working for the last few years to get my dreams back, but let’s go back to the start of my dream story…

As a child, I dreamed vividly. I dreamed almost every night. I was sometimes lucid, although I didn’t know what that meant at the time.

The problem was, most of my dreams were nightmares, and dark, twisted ones at that. The good dreams have long been lost to time, but the memory of those nightmares still stay with me. Where most kids were having nightmares of zombies and aliens, I dreamed of walking over an endless chessboard with no escape. Sometimes it was the voice that whimpered, then laughed, then screamed, with no image at all – and that was accompanied with a feeling of illness that is impossible to describe but that still hits me occasionally when i’m awake to this day. There was the sleep paralysis – that was so real that I was convinced I was cursed.

And then there was the nightmare. Sometimes I called it the man. Sometimes I called it the mummy (it occasionally appeared as a mummified figure). Now it is just called ‘you’. (not directed at the reader, don’t worry!)

I can’t express how terrifying this nightmare was. I won’t even attempt very hard. The problem is that it’s image is both blurred and perfectly vivid in my mind. All I can say for certain was that it embodied fear entirely. It also felt more real than reality every time I experienced it.

I could attempt to say more about why ‘you’ was so unbearable, but it makes me terrified even now.

I, still in my childhood years, decided eventually to take action. This is where (if it hadn’t already) begins to get a bit strange and where you may begin to doubt the ‘truth’ of the account.

My solution, was to confront ‘you’. i decided to tell it to leave forever.

I remember the last  childhood dream of ‘you’ vividly. I was in a Scandinavian-like land at a turn in a river. There was forest all around, and here on the river’s turn was a clearing with a small shack in it. The door faced away from the river, and I new ‘you’ was in there, waiting for me.

This time, ‘you’ was robed all in black, with a hood over the face. The face is the part I can never picture. There might not have been a face. Yet somehow I’m certain ‘you’ had eyes, the most fearful eyes. The door to the shack, as they always did with my encounters with ‘you’ locked.

The sensations I always experienced in the presence of my nightmare started. They are too difficult to explain, not like ‘normal’ fear, so I’m afraid I can’t explain them.

Before it became too much and I sank into the usual complete terror, I somehow (I can’t remember how) managed to strike a deal with ‘you’. I can’t remember it’s side of the deal, but my side of the deal was that ‘you’ would never ever come back. It went to the door. The door unlocked and ‘you’ disappeared. I walked out the building, and the dream dissolved.

My nightmare never returned.

But my dreams disappeared completely.

And this, is why I wondered at the start of this post why I didn’t question the loss of my dreams, or have any concern about the loss of them, for the entirety of my teenage years. I had such a clear moment where my dreams stopped. I did in fact tell my nightmares, in the middle of a nightmare, to stop. And somehow i accepted the loss of dreams with that, without asking why.

I only began to remember parts of my old dreams when I began to meditate a few years back. I remembered how I had told my nightmare to leave me, and suddenly I realised my dreams had almost completely gone for over five years.

I started dreaming again, but no where near as vividly as I used to.

So I decided to try something. I tried to bring back my nightmare, with the intention of learning about it.

A few nights after deciding this, I almost forced myself into sleep paralysis. I forced myself out in terror when the lights in my room started flashing and horrific laughter filled the room.

Since then, I’ve seen glimpses of ‘you’ in my returning dreams. Only now, it seems to be on the run. It never stays for long enough for me to work out how to react. But I Know  it’s the same nightmare.

The problem is, despite the terror this…thing inflicts on me even today, I’m determined to track it down in my dreams. It’s one of my goals for once I successfully begin to lucid dream. I realised a while back that i’ve repressed a large chunk of my childhood, and I think this nightmare has some of the answers..

The nightmare however, seems no longer to be restricted to the dreamworld alone, and this does make me question further how close reality and dream actually are (I wonder about this a lot). Twice in the last few months, ‘you’ has appeared vividly in mere daydreams. I’ve been awake, and it’s been there.

And one time -thank god it was only once – I’m convinced it was in the park on my walk into university. Dressed in a long coat and a hat, ‘you’ was there,

It’s where this shocked, confused post here came from. – https://thoughtofvg.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/welcome-back-still-multi-part-poem-pt1/

So here I am now, chasing a dream, quite literally. Since childhood, I’ve been fighting with the same being, and i’m told there is no reality at all to a dream.

I’m trying to find out.

One last point on ‘you’. I few months back I watched the film ‘insidious’ with some friends, and I had a terrible shock. There is sort of a ‘main nightmare/demon’ in the film. This Nightmare, I think, is the same one as in my old nightmares. I had never seen the film before, but I knew that figure as soon as it appeared on the screen. It wasn’t it’s most common form, but It was the same. I’m still trying to work out how on earth a nightmare from a film produced the last couple of years was the same as in my childhood.

I’m going to leave a more analytical approach to dreams for a later post, but that there was an honest account of my ‘dream journey’ so far. I’ve focused only on parts of it, but I certainly covered the most important parts.

I will finish with a few short points however.

Why do we discount these dreams as trivial as we grow up when they are so important in youth?

How can the same dream be so real, so consistent, so constant, and even start breaking out of the dream world?

Have we all got the divide between ‘reality’ and ‘dream’ completely wrong? How do I know I’m not dreaming right now? What if that dreamworld is my reality and I’ve been stuck in the dream world for quite a while?

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you never ever encounter ‘you’. That won’t stop me searching for it though.

Are you awake? I’m not.


Are you awake? No really, are you? You’re reading this right now, and we generally assume that if you’re busy reading something on the internet you tend to not be asleep.

But I’m still not sure how awake you are. I know I spend a lot of my waking life not really being awake, but rather I drift through life missing some of the most beautiful moments that pass me.

I’ve only realised the extent of this anomaly over the last week or so when I started a little experiment of mine. I have been constantly doing what I call ‘wake checks’.

The origins of this experiment came from my attempts to Lucid dream; when you become aware that you are dreaming and can consequently control it. It is meant to be an incredible experience, and although I haven’t succeeded yet, I’m vaguely aware that I could lucid dream to an extent when I was younger. (I have an interesting story about when my dreams stopped, but perhaps I’ll leave that for another post).

As i just said above that I hadn’t yet managed to lucid dream with the help of my wake checks, naturally i’ll be talking mainly about something other than Lucid dreams today. The fact, from my experience so far, is that wake checks do more than improve your chances of Lucid dreaming. Oh so much more.

Let me actually explain to you what my wake checks entail. The basic principle is fairly self-explanatory. You check whether or not you’re awake. I write ‘Are you awake?’ on my hand everyday in Chinese  (你醒马) and look at occasionally over the course of the day. As soon as I see it in passing, I ask myself “Am I awake? Am I dreaming?”, count the fingers on my hand, close my eyes, then check my hand again, looking for abnormal changes.

This may all seem a little odd, but in a dream certain small details get distorted. By making it customary to check for abnormalities in the waking world (being the strange person I am, I hesitate to use the word ‘reality’), it should increase the chance of noticing abnormalities in a dream – triggering awareness within the dream.

The problem arises when you consider that most people would think it rather strange to check they’re awake, especially when they know that they’re awake.

The bigger problem is that they should, and are missing out in not doing so.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘am I dreaming?’ used for when something incredulous happens. Interestingly enough, if you force the question, you start noticing plenty of incredulous things you pass every day but ignored before as ‘normal’, ‘just the way it is’, ‘boring’.

But things aren’t just ‘the way they are’ or ‘normal’. If you have ever read ‘the Kite Runner’, you may well remember the moment when the protagonist breaks down into tears because he had seen something stunningly beautiful for the first time. The sea.

What is considered normal is just what we are used to, and we tend to ignore it to an extent. An Eskimo isn’t going to be too excited If he met a Bedouin nomad telling of the wonders of icicles. Likewise, the Bedouin would be severely confused for an Eskimo in awe of expanses of sand.

Of course both places are incredible. But for someone, they are normal and for someone, what’s normal for you would be a world of experience for someone else.

You just need to see it.

And wake checks do that.

These are some of the things I hadn’t noticed – or had at least forgotten to the sea of acceptance and normality – that have come to my awareness since starting my wake checks.

-The cold isn’t as uncomfortable as we make it out to be, we just seem to be predisposed to anxiety from it. (of course I may have a different opinion of this if I still lived in Xinjiang, where it gets to -30)

– I’ve noticed patterns I never saw before in the way trees grow

– music has more depth and clarity

-The way different colours interact with each other seems clearer

-The huge amount of movement that happens in one single view at one time is incredible (this one came partly also from a recent training of my periphery vision. That in itself is another example of positive side-effects of projects as I was improving my periphery vision for speed reading rather than for increasing awareness in general)

-Fog has a very distinct smell

-I’ve realised how difficult it is to remain completely in focus of multiple actions. Try taking in everything in front of you in extreme detail whilst also trying to focus on a piece of music.

-Even if I haven’t lucid dreamed, my normal dreams are coming back (the disappearance of my dreams is worth talking about, but not today – it’s a weird story)

-I never noticed before how certain objects illuminate under streetlights at night.

-I see now just how much most people sleep-walk through life, when I see their faces in the street.

-I’ve noticed buildings and monuments I hadn’t acknowledged before.

-I’m more aware of how I feel, and as a result i’m less confused. This gives me confidence in myself.

-I feel like I need to be more productive each day. Being aware of your own wakefulness accentuates the knowledge that you are alive. We’re not alive for very long, and knowing you’re awake is a pretty good reminder that you’re still alive and need to make the most of that.

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Some of those points probably appear more poignant than others, but I think that the apparently smaller insignificant points are the more exciting. When you notice how the normal is incredible, you realise that there is so much more to reassess for it’s wonder, and that in turn highlights how exciting the as of yet unseen really is.

So I’ll ask you something again…

Are you awake?

on…words and lost meaning


I’m a writer. Writers love words, right?

Well, yes. It’s hard to write without words. They are the building blocks of how we communicate. They join together to form streams of ideas, which then fork out into a tributary of arguments, developments, thoughts, emotions…quite frankly words are quite useful little things.

I’ve dropped the intensity of that sentence off a hypothetical crumbling cliff on purpose right there. I’ve been thinking lately quite a lot on how much we experience the world without words. Unfortunately the only way to try and tackle this concept of thinking without words is to think about it with words, but that’s just one of those lovely paradoxes that always end up appearing when you think too much.

I’ll start by sharing a quote I’ve found recently. Here’s some wisdom from Terence Mckenna.

“Culture replaces authentic feeling with words. As an example of this, imagine an infant lying in its cradle, and the window is open, and into the room comes something, marvelous, mysterious, glittering, shedding light of many colors, movement, sound, a transformative hierophany of integrated perception and the child is enthralled and then the mother comes into the room and she says to the child, “that’s a bird, baby, that’s a bird,” instantly the complex wave of the angel peacock iridescent trans-formative mystery is collapsed, into the word. All mystery is gone, the child learns this is a bird, this is a bird, and by the time we’re five or six years old all the mystery of reality has been carefully tiled over with words. This is a bird, this is a house, this is the sky, and we seal ourselves in within a linguistic shell of dis-empowered perception.”
~ Terence Mckenna The World Could Be Anything (1990)

found here. https://www.facebook.com/EtherealExposition/photos/a.144806929042766.1073741829.144767382380054/321604901362967/?type=1&theater

Do you know that feeling when you experience something new for the first time? Maybe not. Maybe you haven’t experienced something new for a while, but I doubt that. maybe you’re in the position that Mckenna describes, that you have abstracted everything to the point where there is no wonder in them anymore. Take the view of a young child, pointing at everything  in excitement  on a walk in a forest

“what’s that? that crying flower? Why does it look so sad? Look! It’s crying!” “that’s just a daffodil. That’s just a drop of rain, falling from it’s leaves”

“What’s that noise? It sounds like the ground is shaking! the forest is awake!” “No, that’s just a woodpecker – look! There it is, in that tree.”

“But what is the tree dreaming of? Is she happy?” “no, it’s just a tree.”

Who’s right?

Already a young child has abstracted some things. Bird, tree, flower. We need to so we’re all on the same wavelength and able to talk with each other. But children still have so much more to see, so much more to turn from wonder into the normal. You know when a baby stares at the seemingly most mundane object, in wonder? What if we could do that? why don’t we? I think it’s something to do with everything just being ‘just’ something.

Just a daffodil. Just a woodpecker. Just a tree.

Of course, words are how we communicate with one another. i couldn’t write this to you all unless you partake in this word game known as the English language. Yet as soon as words are placed on something some of the beauty is lost. Let’s take hypnogogia as an example. Most people don’t know what this is, but we’ve all experienced it to varying degrees.

Hypnogogia is the transitional state between sleep and wakefulness. during it we see swirling colours which sometimes form shapes. It’s beautiful. Sometimes unexplainable. I could spend hours writing about it and never quite reach what it actually is. It’s more beautiful in the fact that I can’t full explain it.

In most languages, the script in which something is given its name is biggest abstraction of all. what is ‘t’ on its own? It’s a sound. it’s a shape. It means nothing. How about ‘ttttttt’? now it’s just a meaningless shape. You can’t pronounce that. And then ‘t t t t t t’? now they are shapeand they make a sound. Still no recognisable meaning though. we could attach meaning to the sound though – that ‘t t t t t t’ could describe the tattattattat of the woodpecker in that forest. We’ve applied a total abstraction to a sound/action. And now that action is a collection of meaningless abstractions. This extends to actual words. What does ‘w-o-r-d’ say about the word word? Nothing.

Let’s compare that to Chinese, where the writing sound isn’t totally abstracted. put 女(nü)(woman) with 子(zi)(child) and you get 好(hao)(good). Aside from the fact that the idea portrayed there is a rather traditional view, a woman and child together meaning ‘good’ is very clever and quite beautiful.

Each concept in life has however still been boiled down to a few strokes on paper, even in the Chinese. The words are less abstract, but they do still serve the purpose of defining something in a generic term we all understand, removing part of the personal experience.

What do you experience when you read a novel? Many people who read fiction incessantly might talk of really knowing the characters in their favourite book, and of really feeling the emotions of the character, the environments of the story, a life brought onto those words. The words translate into images. You interpret them into something more. Yet you are always restrained by the author’s choice of words, and your own interpretation of them.

An imaginative reader might get close to the feeling of the unexplained, through extrapolating what they have been told and making it into something new. a great example of this is not with literature but with art. Dürer’s famous rhinoceros. He had never seen a rhino, but he had a great go at sculpting and drawing one on written accounts of their appearance. He got close, but not quite there. That’s what words are like – you can have a good go at explaining something, but you will never truly have the whole image.

"Dürer's Rhinoceros, 1515" by Albrecht Dürer - Christie's. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%BCrer%27s_Rhinoceros,_1515.jpg#mediaviewer/File:D%C3%BCrer%27s_Rhinoceros,_1515.jpg

“Dürer’s Rhinoceros, 1515” by Albrecht Dürer – Christie’s. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D%C3%BCrer%27s_Rhinoceros,_1515.jpg#mediaviewer/File:D%C3%BCrer%27s_Rhinoceros,_1515.jpg

And now here’s another quote I found over the last few days, this time a criticism of written word.

“The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of “legitimate” thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world’s ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.” – Russel Means

http://www.blackhawkproductions.com/russelmeans.html#sthash.NLTJbUpd.dpuf

Although this quote only indirectly affects what was written before it, the divide between spoken word and written word is interesting. The idea I want to look at here is this ‘Legitimate thinking’. When you speak words, those words are accompanied with facial expressions, rise and fall in tone and movement. It’s a marriage of total abstraction and part-abstraction. Conversation allows further discussion of the most disputable points of meaning. The written word lacks that. When words are written to describe something – anything even – no matter how beautiful, chances are that moment would have been more beautiful without them.

My leaving note will be this. Do you know those moments when you think “I don’t have the words” to describe something incredible? Maybe we shouldn’t try.

Welcome back – Still ( multi part poem pt1)


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Still.

You stand before me.

Again.

Welcome,

I beg you stay not long.

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Still.

The trees move slowly.

Surround.

You’re here,

Your departure so long gone.

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Still.

The trees encroach me.

They bend.

They reach;

The branches hands of thorns.

Still.

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You stand before me.

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Still.

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A smile?

Twisted, devil’s spawn

Stillness darkness torn

Torn asunder maw

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Hell.

Trees fall around me.

You rise

You fall

You stayed here not for long…

Gone.

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Still.

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Gone.

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This is part one of a set of poems. The other ones aren’t written yet, but they are needed to make sense of this,

haven’t written a poem in over a year – felt like something different…

Thanks for stopping by.

I finished a song for once! – Gliding


I did it!

It may have taken a long time, but finally I found the lyrics for a song I’ve been working on. And by found, I don’t mean I always had them sitting about on a piece of paper that I stupidly misplaced, but found where they were hiding in my head.

It seems wrong to me to say that lyrics are ‘thought’ up. Then it sounds like they are forced out in a desperate attempt to finish off something half-heartedly before the end of a strict deadline.

But no. Saying that I found them works much better. It makes those words seem more animate, more meaningful.

And that, means waiting for the words to be found rather than force words onto a song that didn’t want them.

So why the long boring bit before I actually get round to typing the lyrics onto this post? Well, bluntly put, I’m useless at putting lyrics to a song, or vice-versa. This time I have both, and am (relatively) happy with both bits, although they need refining.

Hopefully, If I can work out how, I might post the actual song on here soon, but for now enjoy the lyrics to ‘Gliding’.

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Gliding

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Gliding

In floating streams

Flying

To where I want to be.

And wishes

Are hard to take

But don’t stop dreaming

Or those wishes might just break.

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Take me where you’re flying,

I want to find my purpose there,

To you it is no mystery

What lies beyond horizons,

You see me as the speck I am

And I see you the same

But I’m the one still dreaming

That I was gliding there with you.

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Burning

In passionate desire

For freedom

The fire towers higher.

Hopeful

The time is coming near

Grateful

The path is coming clear.

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Take me where you’re flying,

I want to find my purpose there,

To you it is no mystery

What lies beyond horizons,

You see me as the speck I am

And I see you the same

But I’m the one still dreaming

That I was gliding there with you.

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I’m gliding

On the wing.

I’m gliding

There with you.

Gliding ...

Gliding … (Photo credit: ToldOldo)