China / Hot Issues

No way do I want to realize my 'dream'

By Jon Lowe (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-13 08:22

In one of the most famous speeches in history, Martin Luther King, Jr declared: "I have a dream." In visionary fashion, he went on to outline the aims of the US civil rights movement and a just society.

However, and with apologies to the late Dr King, I suspect for the majority of ordinary mortals an account of their dream might be more along the lines of: "I have a dream. I am back at school. I try to walk but my feet stick to the ground, which is like thick glue. Suddenly, children are circling me on giant lizards. I look up and see a teacher-who is also my present boss-tapping with his cane on a blackboard, which promptly becomes a waterfall. I am washed away, but later rescued by the British royal family on their decommissioned yacht (which of course makes no sense), and who have somehow become MY family. The Queen is very nice..."

No way do I want to realize my 'dream'

We seem to have a very idealized view of what dreams are. We talk of them as though they are projections of fantasies and idylls - things we aspire to - when in fact they are usually the opposite. While occasionally we might find ourselves suddenly blessed with the ability to fly or take huge leaps in slow motion, in my experience such pleasant dreams are rare indeed. For the most part, our dreams are reflections of our fears. They are broadcasts from the unconscious whose often frightening images and moods are yet strangely prescient. The vast majority of these phantoms of the mind disappear in the time it takes to open our eyes and recognize the bedroom ceiling or the features of whichever new place we are staying in (for we do seem to dream more vividly in unfamiliar surroundings).

And yet, for those dream fragments that linger in our minds, no matter how strange they initially seem, it is surprising how often we can, with a little effort, largely decipher their meaning. Dreams are undoubtedly full of symbols (as well as impish humor and weird logic) and interpretations vary of course, but one is ultimately quite free to decide the most appropriate interpretation for oneself. The dream I rather facetiously rattled off earlier was silly and exaggerated, but contained real "anxiety" dream elements such as feet getting stuck to the floor, the presence of authority figures, a tsunami, and even the royal family. (I have no idea why they pop up now and then - perhaps for a bit of comic relief?) Personally, I think these fragments can help us deal with things that are bothering us deep down.

That said, no one but a demented surrealist would aspire to seeing similar scenarios in the real world, and the idea that we should some how realize our dreams is utterly preposterous. Attending to matters in the here and now-keeping people safe, fed, warm, productive and optimistic-is our true task. And, funnily enough, those are the things which our dreams want for us too.

Hot Topics