November is a month of darkness and dreams. Relentless storms with the hint of winter in them make the days darker, the skies greyer. The air freezes, riming the roofs and crisping the grass. Horizons are misted by rain and fog. And when the rain pauses, the wind stills, and the sun peeks above the horizon, the world is flushed with gold. The beginning of winter has a surreal quality. The contraction of the body against the cold, the contraction of the mind against the darkness makes me feel that I’m not truly present in the world. It couldn’t be a better season in which to dream.
Dreams are the space between sleep and waking. Borderlands, where we exalt in our whims or become trapped in the thorns of our fears. They are night enchantments, where we live other lives, or distorted versions of our own, a gossamer existence on top of our reality. Perhaps we leave our bodies in the night, as some cultures believed, to participate in the events of our dreams. Perhaps it’s true that there are deities who send us dreams, demons that curse us with nightmares and creatures that feed on our essence as we sleep. Or maybe dreams are simply a way to understand the world without the intrusion of our conscious mind. It’s no wonder that for thousands of years we’ve sought meaning from our dreams.
Dreams don’t give up their secrets easily. They conceal meaning behind layers of symbol and distortion, a jumble of reality and imagining. Dreams are wisps of thoughts and impressions left behind in the memory. Things often don’t make sense, or our recollection of them is so hazy when we wake that we can’t grasp the sense of them. They are fluid, merging into one another. Sometimes they are effortless, sometimes frustratingly tangled.
Daydreams don’t have the chaos or mystery of the dreams that seek us out in the night. But they are another borderland: a place of drift and retreat; a slice of enchantment conjured just outside the real world. Night dreams visit me unbidden, but I create my daydreams. I tend to daydream when I’m stationary because daydreaming requires focus. All those adults who have ever told a child to stop daydreaming in the misconception that they’re being idle, were mistaken. It takes time and effort to construct a daydream, to build a world that can be seen, heard and tasted. The line between daydreaming and visualisation is thin, lacking only intention.
My life is imprinted with thousands of dreams, remembered and forgotten. There are many ways to dream and I do it with a pen in my hand. I write my daydreams down and call them stories. What are stories, if not dreams of the imagination? When I conjure a story it’s a type of dreaming. There’s a space in the back of my head where the story unfolds like a reel of film. Ephemeral and sometimes disjointed. Like a foggy day or the blur of rain, it can be difficult to shape or grasp the sense of it. But story-making is like lucid dreaming. I can step inside the story and midwife it into being.