Yes, the title is a bit tired, and so is the implied play on words in the previous clause. But like the nature of my dreams — three kinds: daydreams, night dreams, and the ones I’m trying to chase — I’ll just meander a bit in this post until I arrive at an alternative title, although the opening one will stand.
In a previous post, I mused on the paradox of the examined life and the conclusions one draws about its worthiness, and this is a partial reply of sorts to one of the beautiful comments I received in response. It’s very true that it would probably be only an incomplete examination of one’s life that would lead someone to the conclusion that it’s not worth living. There are a couple primary streams of thought behind my original statement. First, the part where I examine my own life and wonder what the point has been; the second is the idea that life is so much easier if we can avoid the trap of self-examination in the first place. I can’t address either of these points in any depth in this post, but the second may be the most relevant for what I think I’m trying to say.
This morning, in the midst of an overwhelming sense of particular anxieties and generalized dread, I found myself wondering what it is that I really imagine as the ‘release’ that I anticipate as a result of ending my life. If I follow the idea that there is an afterlife, I can’t presume that I will end up in a place of peace rather than in one of eternal damnation. This morning I was more of a mind that what would follow my death would be nothingness, in which case I would not be ‘around’ to even be aware of having been released from my pain or from the feelings of dread. I found myself wondering about whether there would be a difference in consciousness of that release between a sudden accidental death and a long-planned suicide involving a slow fading off into the never-ending sleep. I don’t have answers to that of course; interestingly, my curiosity in the matter is what may likely save me rather than lead me into careless experimentation. Although I don’t think that imagining Sisyphus as happy is an effective antidote against suicide, I would wish my readers to recognize this post as a sign of hope rather than despair.
So, I did come to the conclusion at least that suicide would not bring me the particular form of release that I’m craving, namely the conscious experience of a lasting inner peace. I mean the kind that is not dependent upon external circumstances, although it would be really close to the feeling of being in a lover’s arms. Before anyone guesses that I’m missing the point on a lot of things — like whether we as humans are meant to experience more than passing moments of such transcendent peace, or the means we should be using to achieve it, such as prayer or transcendental meditation, for instance — I’ll just refer readers back to what I wrote before: although I do hope for a diagnosis of adult ADHD just so that I might finally get a more effective medication so that I can sit still long enough to start meditating, the bottom line is that between my new daily writing regimen, and the fact that my musical practice is starting to take shape again, I may find my own route to the needed beginner’s mantra.
Days like today, I just wanted to fade off into a blissful sleep never to have to wake again. To sleep, and not just perchance to dream. Because even some of my bad dreams are more peaceful than the waking dread. But in addition to reinforcing the point that I’ve come to the conclusion that I want this experience of peace to be conscious, and therefore neither suicide nor opiates are effective means to achieve it, there are the other kinds of dreams that I haven’t addressed.
I dream of being the change I want to see in the world. This is actually a bit less lofty of a goal than my dream of eking out a modest but comfortable existence as a musician, and of having a lover to share that existence with. Following my dreams as an artist is only a double-edged sword because a) I’m not convinced (yet) that I have enough talent or ambition to overcome years of neglect. Yes, I’ve spent the last few years trying to take responsibility for compensating for the neglect through intense practice, and it has started to pay off, until I allowed external and internal obstacles to get in the way, such as b) if anything is going to kill me, it’s going to be the extreme loneliness of going home alone after a successful gig. Going home alone after an unsuccessful gig is actually easier, because I can escape with thoughts of seeking the new day job that will bring me release from the tortures of chasing my musical dreams when I know that I’m not yet good enough to be discovered. When I know that I’m taking responsibility to improve, though, I still don’t deal very well with the solitude. My practice is solitary, as it should be, and that never gets me down. I’m primarily a solo musician, and to some degree, I know I won’t meet the musicians I really crave to work with until I overcome the hurdles of my lingering mediocrity. So close and yet so far away.
Some days I just really do want to go to sleep and dream of being a competent and gainfully employed musician. And then wake up and have a day job that I can be proud of.
I haven’t really answered my reader’s comment about the incompleteness of the ways in which I’ve examined my life. I’m going to claim the fifth amendment here, as I’ve just had to delete a great deal of extraneous information, as if the above isn’t already tmi. But: I’ve been told that my thoughts are a kind of balm for others who are going through similar or at least parallel ordeals. I’m still here, and it gives me great hope to know that you are too. Let’s keep talking. And dreaming. To make the impossible dream a reality.