I had too much to dream last night…

Last night I had a dream that presented a pinsharp, disturbing reality that I lived in until I awoke. And it has left me with a mixed feeling of distress and serenity which will probably last a while. I hope it does.

Electric Prunes EP cover

The Electric Prunes, “I had too much to dream last night”

In short I dreamt that I was on my deathbed, soon to die (from illness, not trauma) and struggling to breathe. There’s the distressing part.

And while living these last moments, I dreamt about a conversation I had with someone, I know not who, about how it felt to be dying.  This was my reply, to my own surprise…

“Oh it’s okay, there are no regrets” I said, “Everything I’ve done has made me who I am and has led me here to this very point at this very time and it’s all okay. Really. Everyone has their time and this is mine. It’s alright.”

And as I sit here now in the garden with an early morning cup of tea, I am very surprised by this response and it is this that has induced a sense of calmness in me. This feeling of acceptance about my own mortality is new, something I’ve never experienced before. Prior to this I’ve considered death largely with fear and loathing and I’ve imagined the horror of it.

garden wide_4724

Of course as I wait for the number 50 birthday bus to pull up outside our house next year, my own mortality is something I’ve become more aware of lately. I am definitely no longer a member of the invincible and eternal youth club and actually I’m very glad about that.

But until this dream I have viewed my own death largely with dread and its bony hand has also made me feel guilty; guilty that I should be doing so much MORE with my life, be a BETTER person while I’m here, be MORE GRATEFUL for all that I have and that I should be STRONGER than I am.

But this dream has given me a new sense of calmness; about the life I lead now and what my future decisions might be.  It will be okay and I am okay. I don’t have to fight and I don’t need to spend quite so much time thinking about what I should and could do or plotting a new career trajectory, I can be me, accept being me and maybe even enjoy being me.

gdn blackberry_4716

Actually the dream has made me think that I need to enjoy being me as much as possible. And if that doesn’t involve saving the World and/or conquering my fear of scary roller coasters, well that’s fine. In an almost reckless way it makes me think ‘sod it girl, just do what you do well and what you enjoy to the very best of your abilities – have fun with it and stop trying to be someone else, someone better. Indulge almost, in yourself and accept that while others may think differently of you – that’s okay. Stop worrying about what they all think”.

And if my way of making a mark on the World will be just a little thing or two, then that’s fine too. Of course I have my two lovely children, but I didn’t have them in order to make a mark (at least I don’t think I did); they are their own people and they have their own lives to lead, their own marks to make.

Of course I don’t mean that I should live a selfish life – whatever I do I should be mindful of others and hopefully helpful too, sometimes if not always. I am part of a family, a community and a society and my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to contribute to those groups as well as stand up as an individual and of course from such contributions, satisfaction and fulfillment comes. But that dream last night and my feelings this morning and this post are about me.

A counsellor I know once told me that each of us is like a precious, cut stone with many facets, some of which shine in the light and some of which stay in the shadows. And she told me that we can turn our stone so that different facets glint in the light while others recede into shade. But while we can change the position and angle of our precious stone we cannot change it – we are who we are.

garden pink flower_4699

To take this analogy which I like a lot (but liking is not the same as living) a bit further, perhaps I could also try a touch of polishing; bring out the shine a bit more.

This new morning sense I have that maybe I can (and should) enjoy who I am, as I have that opportunity, is of course borne out of self-acceptance. And this for me is the holy grail – acceptance. Not happiness, but acceptance. Who came up with happiness as the ultimate goal anyway? Personally I think that ‘happiness’ as a state of being is a myth. Just like ‘work-life balance’; another nonsensical nirvana that very few, or even none of us is able to reach. They are over-used terms that leave us all feeling like we’re failing. Or is that just me?!

Pah! to happiness. Pah! to work-life balance. Acceptance is where it’s at!

Acceptance of who we are as individuals, what we are formed of – good points and bad, talents and shortcomings.

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It has also made me think that when I consider my possible future career or job, that maybe I don’t need to conquer the world with a small business idea, or push to find a fancy pants role in a shiny company. Maybe a decent-ish job to which I can contribute something genuinely useful will be quite sufficient thank you; a job that forms part of my life not all of it and leaves enough brain space to enjoy the rest of life, spend more time with the girls as they grow up and hone my practice of enjoying being me.

Of course finding that mythical job is another thing, and it’s also another blog post, but for here and now just indulge me in the thought that this exists as a concept and maybe it’s what I want. Perhaps I can stop chasing dreams that don’t exist.

I can’t say I embrace the idea of death, but this morning I feel a new sense of calm about it that I’ve never experienced before. Death is, inevitably, something that will come to all of us. And while we’ve become used to controlling (or believing we control) most things in our lives; this little number keeps us guessing, which bothers us no end. And of course for some people death comes all too soon and all too painfully. But maybe when we consider it we can at least hope to feel at ease with it, not afeared by it.

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Having written all this (and on my third cup of tea in the garden) I suddenly remembered a Guardian article I read a couple of years ago about dying patients greatest regrets, as recorded by an Australian palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware. There is a book; “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” too, but for now, here are the headlines.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying…

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

It sent a shiver down my spine just now – I’m clearly on the right track. Now all I need to do is stay on it. Let’s all try… x

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One Response to “I had too much to dream last night…”

  1. carole@letthemeatcake.co.uk Says:

    Very profound thoughts….but calm is good…

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