Tuesday 30 September 2008

We Live as We Dream

Alone. Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, said this. After a month of bullshitting my way through this novel, it seems unlikely that I would volunterily discuss this man, or anything having to do with him. This quote, however, has gotten to me a bit.

When I first read it, the naive, hopeful side of me instantly thought against it. Of course we aren't alone, we're all together! I immediately rejected the thought that our lives are lonely paths. As for the dreaming? Well, sure we dream alone. I never really thought much of dreaming... you can barely remember any of it, anyways.

However, Conrad doesn't mean that we live as remote islands. He means that our journey through life is one that we only completely share with ourselves. He means that, in every experience, the main event isn't the only thing that matters - every sight, taste, feeling we have adds to our experience. We are the only ones who will have that exact experience - those exact feelings.

Have you ever had a dream you couldn't describe? It felt so significant to you... but you can't explain it well to anyone. No matter what, no one understands what you experienced, or what you were feeling. You were the only one there, and while you may come close, no one else will ever have that. Last night I had a dream that Ian was killed by a flock of birds. (1) Nine of them stabbed him in the heart. You can understand the jist of the dream, but you can't understand the little, tiny details that surrounded it, and made that dream exactly what it was. I can't explain them to you, both because I don't remember and there's too much to describe.

I dreamt that dream alone, and so it's solely mine. That's how we live life - although others may be there, and go through the same things right next to us... each experience is completely different. You can see a movie with a friend and enjoy it, while they detest it. Same event, different experiences.

So, we live alone. This isn't depressing - obviously we can be surrounded by friends, and be close to them. This is really quite a beautiful thing. It's the only thing that you will ever completely own yourself, something you will never have to, or be able to, share with anyone. That's your unique experience of life; It's the exact feelings you have, the little details in your life that melt into one. Conrad experienced something that most of us never will - he saw, first hand, the colonization of Africa. He saw men go mad, and a continent exploited. Other people were there, but no one else experienced it exactly like he did. An attempt to describe this experience as fully as possible, using language, became Heart of Darkness. (2)

Maybe you're one of those people who keep things to yourself... or maybe you're like me. I try to explain everything that happens to me to anyone who will listen, it seems. This probably annoys others and sometimes even annoys myself. However, I do take comfort in knowing that no matter how much I talk, no matter how much I "vent" (3), there will always be somethings that no one else will really know, and that's my unique experience of life.

1. Ironically, Ian had a dream that SAME night that I died in a car accident! This is the second time we have had dreams about each other dying on the same night!
2. Oh and thank God, because what the hell would I do if I couldn't read HOD?
3. Kudos to Jordan Fleming, who listens to me complain about EVERYTHING almost nightly.

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