Quite why I have to be up at ridiculous o’clock, I don’t know. Well, I probably do, but even for me it is a bit early in the day to start calling myself an idiot. I wouldn’t mind if I’d managed to get to bed before half past midnight, but after tossing and turning for a while, waking from a particularly unpleasant dream, I gave in and got up. Sleep was not happening.
The lurid and improbable story of the dream still lingers around the fringes of my mind in the same way as the events from whence it sprang hover at the edge of memory. It is not a time that I particularly wish to remember, nor indeed something I feel a need to forget. It was simply part of life, and therefore part of the inevitable learning curve of growing into today. I say inevitable, because in some ways that is true… the yesterdays we have lived and the tomorrows we envisage can only bring us to where we now stand, individually and collectively. There are no ‘what ifs’ where the past is concerned… there is only the way it was, and the indelible imprint that leaves upon life.
There is the theory that there are multiple alternate universes of ‘what ifs’, where every possible bifurcation of the future is played out. It is an interesting thought. We tend to imagine it, if we think about it at all, as if we stand on the brink of decision, a single point in an infinite multiverse, ready to take a next step that rays out from the moment like the petals of a daisy. Yet if you really think about it, that could not be… for in each of those myriad worlds the ‘I’ that came to that point would have passed through so many of those moments, taking every possible variant of decision, that each of those infinite ‘I’s’ would be different… and the older we grew, the more different we would become, inexorably changed by the differing experience of the individual life and the paths we have walked.
The layers of that infinite multiverse could only bear any similarity at the first moment of its being…because our lives are so shaped and influenced by those who bring us to any given moment that we would simply not be who we are. In many of these universes we, as individuals, could simply not exist… our parents may never have met…the choices leading away from the possibility of our coming into being at all would also be infinite.
So while it might be a comforting… or disturbing … thought to imagine yourself in another universe making a different decision that leaves you happy, famous or wealthy at least somewhere in creation, that you would not be you… if you even exist there at all.
Which leaves us with this world and this time… the only physical place and moment we can affect, the only place where each point of choice actually matters to our daily lives and that of those around us. And if we cannot change the past we can change what we learn from it and what we carry into the time yet to come. We can choose the lens through which we see it and the lessons we draw from it.
That was, I think, the theme of last night’s foray into dream. For the person it concerned, life continues to go around in circles, going over and over the same ground… rather like a chicken hypnotised by a line drawn in the sand, the focus is on what he sees, not what is and until the focus shifts he is stuck and unable to break the self imposed stasis and move forward. Others may observe this… but only he can make the choice to shift his attention and raise his eyes.
We all do this to some extent… the hypnotic fascination of our own perceptions capturing our attention so that we fail to see other possibilities and miss the beauty of light and shade, seeing only monsters lurking in the dark places of our lives. Yet it is only through the shadows that we can begin to understand the nature of form and know the true beauty of light.