Friday, September 07, 2007

An Unbearable Weight of Non-Existent Responsibility

So now the down time is getting me down - even though I am still gradually picking up. Unfortunately my brain has entered a delightful phase of vivid nightmares and frequent waking, leaving me with three or four intact (if incoherent) dreams remembered every morning. This is exhausting. Especially as my subconscious seems to be stuck on the same record. This isn't the most powerful example, but it was one which made enough sense to put down without having to convince you that giant rabbits could be considered a real threat to human survival if you saw them in the same context I did;
I am running a library, which is open twenty-four hours a day. I am in charge and my only staff are a bunch of small and undisciplined children, who are no help at all - in fact they give me more work because I have to keep them out of trouble. Now this library, which is vast and inexplicably hilly, has been created by the kindness of members of the public who have donated books they'd finished with. Unfortunately, they've done this by simply placing old books on the shelves and there is no order to them whatsoever. I'm trying to work out the quickest and most sensible way of putting the books in some sort of order, at least by genre, without closing the library even for a half hour.

Meanwhile, a serial killer begins to operate in the library. I have to work out who is doing it and bring them to justice, at the same time as looking after my staff of children, who I am now very worried for. Also, the local mayor is coming to visit, so I also have to collect forensic evidence and shift the bodies which keep turning up, out of the way in record time so that the mayor doesn't see. Amid this chaos, I wake up.
This is typical. Sometimes it is far more dramatic; one night I was climbing down a ladder (found under a manhole cover outside a particular Catholic Church I know) which descended into the fires of Hell. I went down there to talk to Lucifer and see if I could convince him to lay off the human race for a bit. It wasn't that I was an important or powerful person who might have this capacity, it was just that if I didn't have a go nobody else would. And it was very scary.

I frequently have phases of these types of dreams when my health isn't doing so well. I've probably written about them before. The two features they always always have are
  • some massive central and pretty much impossible task I have to perform and
  • one or more small vulnerable thing I have to look after at the same time - this can be almost anything from a fetus in a jar (!) to a collection of hamsters without cages or suitable boxes to put them in.
Now, these are the sort of dreams I should be having if I was a world leader considering whether to go to war. But me, the Goldfish, couldn't exactly have less responsibilities. Apart from basic survival, everything I do, I do out of choice and nobody else is relying on me to do it. The heaviest responsibility I have had this week was the need to make a phonecall to the water company because I noticed the Direct Debit to them didn't leave our account at the beginning of the month. So why the heck should I be feeling like this?

I've written before about the perils of having a strong internal locus of control when events are, in reality, somewhat outside one's control. However, I do wonder whether this is also wishful thinking on the part of my subconscious; perhaps deep down I wish the things I do - which always require significant effort because of what I'm up against - actually mattered. Which they don't. Whilst I know I have value in all sorts of ways, I am the least important person I know. And of course, right now, I'm doing very little of any significance whatsoever.

No, I'm not sure that's it; I am feeling rather stressed out and muddled by my Things To Do List, the number of unanswered e-mails, etc.. Rather as I might if I was trying to save the world, I really wish I could turn off time for a few days to get myself together.

In any case, I'm boring you with this stuff in the knowledge that the mere act of putting it down often exorcises the demon. I shall come out from up my own arse shortly.


Sally said...

Oh, easy peasy lemon squeezy ... the library is your blog page, the serial killer is Blogger (bad Blogger) you have zillions of children/regular readers, commentators and emails (who you love), to care for. Your visit to Hell, is the realm of Blogger, and your conversation with Satan is an itsy bitsy desire to just not do it anymore ... being ill, being a blogger ... because you just want to be out there getting on with life. Which you have had bigger glimpses of recently due to move down south nearer to family and getting out more.

Not easy peasy at all.

I acknowledge that this is crap, from a crap semi-trained psychodynamic whats-her-face who didn't complete her training ... because she got ill !!!

Its tough having big dreams every night. I send wishes for your dreams to return to the deeper depths of your sleeping brain where they can sort themselves out without waking you up to do it for them.

Sleep well Goldfish

Elizabeth McClung said...

I have very similar experiences frequently, the dreams as well (though mine tend to be slightly different themed) include recurrent nightmares for the last 10 odd years (one last night involved being the only person aware that our ferry was sinking and trying to collect supplies and find a suitable harbour before several hundred people drowned).

I tend to disagree about responsiblity because, often like a public leader, a person with a disability is bourne down by a "public face" which can at times be overwhelming - the pressure from different people from medical to family for you to "be" in different ways. Maybe this doesn't happen to you, but it certainly happens to me.

I feel in ways that I might be the only person saying this but: Don't you get tired of being tired? I know everyone else seems chipper but between you and me, being disabled sucks.

Mary said...

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2. It's all small stuff.

This isn't meant to help at all, it's just what people keep saying to me when I start getting stressed and I thought I'd relish being able to say it to someone else ;-)

In seriousness now, I agree, it is CRAP having lots of vivid dreams and I really hope it lays off for you soon, whatever the reason.

Gone Fishing said...

I have an excellent neighbour, wise old owl, Dairy Farmer from eons ago.

"Computers!" he says says he "They fry your brains"

So it is, now and again, I go for a few days without having anything to do with the puter.

Normally I allow myself an hour or so each morning to pute and maybe a bit of time at night, (when the Simpsons or Hotel inspector is on). no we did not win Lotto tonight!

And I do find avoiding computer for a day or two doth help.

I doth finde a beak doth salve the soul, young soul, from a wise old brain injured soul!

Can an old brain injured person be wise?

Does the "soul" still reside in a stuffed thinking department? or doth it wander through Ether at times and bring home the marvelous adventures of which you write??

The Goldfish said...

Last night was mildly better, thanks.

Sally, I do wonder what Jung would think about blogging?

Elizabeth, you raise an interesting point. Right now I'm not getting out much, so it's not really a public face, but I guess I do feel... it's not just my 'work' and my social life I have to deal with, I have the additional task of doing all the right things as regards my health and I am having juggle these conflicting responsibilitilities..

And yes, very tired of being tired. Sick of being sick. Exasperation comes and goes; when things are stable and I've got into the right rhythm, I notice much less and my life is good. Right now it is testing my patience.

Mary, you're quite right. :-)

It will pass. Sometimes I have spells of vivid dreams where it is fun and I have adventures every night, but this is shitty.

Nobby, you are a wise old soul indeed. Too much of anything will fry one's brains. :-)

Marcelle Proust said...

Maybe I'm not getting it . . . but to me these dreams sound like a wonderful basis for fiction, so much richer and more detailed and MUCH more interesting than most people's dreams (usually I can hardly bear to hear about anyone's dreams, but yours have PLOT!). My stalled fantasy novel grew out of a dream image. Is it cloyingly lemonade-out-of-lemons to suggest that possibly one of these dreams could spawn your next novel?

Anonymous said...

Have you considered the possibility that while you sleep you actually did pop down to the fires of Hell to have a quick word with Lucifer, and ask him if, you know, he could just, like, lay off people a bit, man...

Maybe it's just that you want to fix the world?