The content of my dreams has long ceased to interest me; but their proportions, the way they rearrange the things I thought I cared about, the life I imagined I was leading, won’t go away. Why do I almost never see my mother in my dreams, although, alone in her eighties, she fills my waking thoughts so much? And why, conversely, do I return again and again in sleep to Paris, a city I haven’t visited often in life, as if under some warm compulsion?
I went there in life not long ago, to try to chase the connection down, but of course my search yielded nothing. Why, as I keep revisiting Paris in the night hours, do I very rarely see Santa Barbara, where I’ve been officially resident for almost fifty years? In my dreams, when it does appear, it’s simply a wilderness, a blank space in the hills next to which I stay, through which some cars are edging, tentative and lost.
My dreams are simply bringing forth what I think but don’t admit to myself, perhaps; they’re not revealing any truth so much as reflecting my projections back at me. Yet the way they upend what I think I think speaks for some intuitive truth: the least important moments may transform our lives more radically than crises do. I stopped off for an overnight stay at Narita Airport in 1983, and those few hours moved me to relocate to Japan. Meanwhile, the times when I have watched people go mad, try to take their lives in front of me, or die, seem barely to have left a trace.
Pico Iyer and dreams. [via NYRB]