To the theologian Helene Lintzaropoulou
One morning after a dreamless sleep (thank God, these past few months my sleep has been deep, torpid and forgetful), I decided to throw out all my dreams, which unfulfilled, had taken over my house. Yes, the idea secretly smoldered within for some time. I had to clear them out, my house was small, only fifty square meters and the dreams had dangerously flooded every inch of it. I had to decide: it was me or them. I couldn’t breathe or move about, and had to be out of the house for hours- finding refuge in the streets, or the woods or when it was cold, in movie theaters.
When I returned home, I saw, but pretended not to see the dreams piled one upon the other in perfect couplings, despite the differences in their origin and content. Over time, it seems the dreams had acquired a common characteristic which urged them towards union: they were all excluded from realization. Unfulfilled, they formed a society of differences, like humans.
Wherever I turned my head to whatever corner or part of the house, a dream stung my memory, underscoring the magnitude of my failure.
In the beginning, the dreams classed in groups by type. For example, the dreams about travelling roamed halfway up the wall, while the dreams about ambition climbed even higher to the ceiling. Later with their interbreeding, I saw the latter descend towards the corners of the floor to keep company with the dreams about feelings, who were shy and prematurely aged.
The small cryptic ones burrowed into the attic or into the drawers of the closet.
The melding and intermixing began over the years, so that my own memory was uncertain. I was completely unable to sort out the source of the dreams. And as if the interbreeding were not enough, we even had the consequences of reproduction, certainly not from all the dreams, but from the most fertile. So they developed like parasites, taking up more and more space.
When I first noticed their multiplying, I observed that the most fecund and consequently, the most sought after were the pale, shy, feeling dreams. They, with their composure and stoicism, seduced even the daring-ambitious dreams, who for a long time had avoided the interbreeding. Many of the cryptic, sternly personal were the offspring of this incongruous union: deformed, ambiguous, psychologically confused or infused with archetypical traits.
When the dreams had perilously occupied the space of my home, forcing me into exile, (at the beginning, I enjoyed leaving the house, but later I grew tired of it), I decided to throw the dreams out. So that morning, like I said, I got a big sack, with a plan to shove every one of them inside and throw the sack into a ravine.
Armed then, with courage and cold-bloodedness, I suppressed all feeling and I (who kept mementoes- a theater ticket or a travel itinerary) cruelly and heartlessly, I began the hunt for dreams.
It seemed however, that those “beings” (I don’t know how else to call them) had eyes and ears everywhere, for once they understood my mission, they were on high alert. Even those which were shut up in the attic and the cupboards took notice of the panic which reigned and burrowed even deeper.
I, however, was well-versed in such tricks, and succeeded in shoving quite a few of them into the dream sack. By midday, sweaty and exhausted, I had almost filled the sack. I tied it with three knots so that none could escape the “rounding up” and sat on the bed to smoke. Opposite me, a dream entered nonchalantly from the kitchen thinking that the sweep-enterprise had ended; it tried to find a place in the room. Frisky, in the giddiness of its youth, it stretched pleasurably and sprawled in a corner of the floor, not noticing that I was near.
I recognized it immediately. It belonged to the travelling category. A dream, never fulfilled, born in the years of my own youth, when I longed for a trip to the Middle East to experience different languages and cultures. Remembering that plan, I marveled at how vividly the dream had endured. For I was middle aged now, ailing with heart problems and high blood pressure- too weakened to carry out such a dreamed-of journey. Truly, I envied its perseverance and stamina. Quickly putting out my cigarette, I violently grabbed the dream and shoved it into the sack.
As tired as I was, I may have been hallucinating but I heard sobs. It seemed that my dream was crying, but cold and methodical, I went into the bathroom to wash my face. I am used to the tears of dreams I thought, and went back into the room to carry on my work.
I continued with spiteful momentum. The dream sack was completely full and my house was completely empty. Before I carried it out to my car, I checked all the corners of my house. I was happy that I did not discover a single dream, not even the smallest. I dragged the heavy dream sack down the stairs (never had I suspected the leaden weight of dreams) and placed it carefully in the back seat. I could have stuffed it into the trunk, but out of innate courtesy and sensitivity, I did not. I didn’t want to smother them.
It was early afternoon, as I drove through the deserted streets to find an appropriate place where there would be cliffs and ravines.
That will be an ideal place to throw out the dreams, I thought happily, ideal and fair- to leave them to their fortune. Either they would die or survive.
I turned the radio on to keep me company on my lone drive. The song playing seemed to affect a dream because again I heard sobs. When I remembered the song, a lump rose in my throat. By chance, the song playing was a beloved one which had framed a time full of sentiment and aspiration. It was a song-symbol. Back then, my resoluteness and malice had placed me in the center of the world- the center of my own world, however, for I found myself bruised and outside the reach of objectivity.
The dream behind me was crying accompanied by the music – the same music which gave birth to it and made it immense – while I drove, clenching my lips to hold back an unwanted groan. No, I did not turn off the radio like a coward. I listened to the song until its end. I had steeled my failure deep in my heart, and indeed, I reveled in the nihilism of my decisions. My belief that failure frees was so strong, that if I wanted to, I could move mountains.
The song ended and the sobs of the dream changed to a gasp. It’s dying, I thought, and I picked up speed.
The afternoon was ending, merging into the depths of the forest, but it wouldn’t be long before I arrived at the choice spot of the cliff.
It was still light when I arrived, a spring twilight, clouds tinged with a vague nostalgia. The dream sack seemed even heavier or maybe I was tired. I pulled it carefully and dragged it to the right spot. I had some difficulty loosening the knots to free the dreams as in my mania to not allow the dreams to escape; I had tied the knots very tightly. The pen knife which I had in the glove compartment of the car (along with different, useless objects like a small spelling dictionary- although I am an excellent speller- or a little bottle of whiskey which I never drink), provided the solution.
When I opened the dream sack and lifted it towards the cliff, I was startled. Most of the dreams were already dead. They had not been able to withstand the lack of oxygen, while a small group within would soon expire. Those were just a few, but my youthful dreams of traveling and others from the same period, flew like birds, escaping the hell of the ravine. I saw them disappear into the air. I was not sad, but I was surprised by their tenacity. Where will they go? I wondered with malice. How would they survive without me? Forgetting, fool that I was, that for many years they had lived independently without my consent.
The dream sack emptied when I threw out the dead and half-dead dreams. A weight lifted from my chest with the thought that now, I was totally free. However, at the moment I readied to throw out the dream sack, I heard a curious sound. I put my hand into the bottom of the sack and took hold of a new-born dream. How had it managed to be born, I asked myself, and which interbreeding produced it? It couldn’t express anything – it was so small. Only the sound revealed its existence.
I stood hesitating. Should I throw it over the cliff before it grew up and began to make demands, or should I keep it? I remembered that in the past, I had had a small aquarium with lilliputian gold fish. In time and despite all my care, they had died, and only the smallest one had remained. I found myself in the same dilemma, but I was young and resilient back then. I put the little gold fish into a big pot of water and went back to the aquarium store to leave it in the company of the other gold fish. That is what I did then.
With this memory, I placed the baby dream, sexless and indeterminate, in the palm of my hand and inspected it.
No, I did not throw it away. I could not throw it away, and I do not intend to analyze the reasons for my decision.
I took it with me on the road back, because my baby dream and I would fit just fine in my house.