Hello, fellow residents of our beautiful planet! I am writing this blog post from a cute Danish cafe in London. Here is a photo I took from my seat in the cafe. If you know me at least a bit, and if you look closely at the photo, you may be able to guess my favorite part of it. However, as that detail is rather inconsequential, let me tell you something of greater importance. Let me tell you how I got here.
Oops! How I got here is inconsequential, too. I flew. (That last sentence was a clue, RE the detail in the photo!) It was a long flight—at least for a travelphobe like me. I finished a book. Exciting! I love finishing books. But in the scheme of things, that was not so exciting, really, so let me please get to my point. Let me tell you why I got here.
Four months ago, as I explained in my post from January 25 called Dreams, I had a dream. I dream vividly most nights; but only the rare dream manifests as a sort of lesson-cum-guidepost, express from my unconscious mind.
In the dream, I bought a flight to London. I bought the ticket amidst a group of friends, as part of a special discount rate; but each of us was traveling separately, and I would be traveling alone. Once I arrived in London, I discovered that my family was staying in nearby rooms. However, I decided to ignore them, since they wanted to do things that I didn’t. What I really wanted to do while in London was see a performance at the Paris Opera House; and that’s what I was making plans to do when I woke up.
Strangely enough, this relates to the book I finished on the plane. I’ll be writing previews of that book shortly. This story about my dream and how it influenced my life will perhaps be useful as we try to piece together the central philosophical problem laid out in that book. But I am getting off track again! So here’s what happened next.
Upon waking, I understood that the dream was important, but I wasn’t sure what it meant. In full—that is, partial—disclosure, there was also a segment of the dream that pertained to my love life. I would not like to share the details; I would merely like to note that the dream had multiple significances to me. (A multiple significance, in case you were wondering, is somewhat similar to a multiple orgasm, except that it’s not just for women; but I am getting off track again!) And so, realizing that my unconscious mind may have been trying to tell my conscious mind something, I kept thinking about the dream.
Within a few days, I was astonished to realize that I wanted to take a solo trip to London and Paris. This might not seem like such an astonishing wish to you; lots of people want to go to London and Paris. It was shocking to me, however, because I have always been a travelphobe.
There were so many things about travel that frightened me. I was scared my plane would crash. I was scared I would get irredeemably lost in trying to navigate public transportation. I was scared I would lose my passport or get beaten or harrassed or raped. I was scared I would spend a ridiculous amount of money, only to instantly get homesick for my garden and birds (that was another clue!). I was scared I would be obliged to do something touristy that I didn’t want to do.
But most of all, I was scared that the jostling and angled sunshine and lack of sleep that are inherent to travel would trigger a migraine. As I explained in my post from December 26 called Medical Mysteries (Part 2), I have suffered from periodic migraines for my whole life. They always last exactly ten days. They are debilitating, involving level-10 pain, aversion to light and noise, expulsion of stomach contents, and much moaning and rolling around amidst bedsheets.
As I explained in that post from last December, I had been unexpectedly rescued by magnesium in an easily absorbable form. I had not experienced a ten-day migraine since beginning my vitamin supplement regimen; and that happy streak continues to this day.
A miracle! Was it a god of travel—perhaps Hermes, a.k.a. Mercury—who had come to my aid?! But I will stay on track with this story, I promise.
The point is, my unconscious mind had realized, long before the “I” that I’m better acquainted with did, that my recent deliverance from periodic migraine hell opened up the door for me to travel. It further realized that my dilapidated and largely nonexistent love life would be a boon to me while traveling, for I would not have to compromise on how I would spend my time. Moreover, it realized that London was a perfect destination for doing things I love to do—namely, enjoying literature and music. Finally, it realized that the Paris Opera House is not that far from London, in the global scheme of things; and what, it mused, is the point of middle age, if not to fulfill fantasies you had while 12 or 13 years old?
Yes—in my youth, I had an obsession with The Phantom of the Opera, both the book and the musical. So I am going to go see that old building where some of the events depicted really occurred (and where some, being romantic exaggerations, did not). And I’m going to do many other literary- and musical-type activities in Paris; and I’m going to attempt to say something comprehensible in the language, and to understand something someone says to me. Because my adult, conscious mind has realized that the Paris Opera House is merely a sentimental excuse to force me to venture very far outside of my comfort zone. To experience something that, sure, lots of people experienced at a much younger age, but I have not yet: to be alone in a faraway culture of people who speak a language that’s foreign to me.
Speaking of language—I have been enjoying hearing British accents all around me. This is not a “pigeon” English, but the genuine article. (That was your third and final clue! If you have not solved the puzzle by now, I fear there is no hope for you . . . though perhaps the answer will come to you in a dream.)
But back to the point. The point is that the human brain has both conscious and unconscious parts. Managing the interplay between the two of them, in my experience, is key to living wisely. To be solely led by one or the other is a grievous mistake. In conclusion, here is a view of the interior of the Danish cafe, behind me. There are no hidden secrets in this photo . . . at least not that I know of. Those are elsewhere. Has your unconscious mind spoken to you lately?