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Dreaming on a Dream Island

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Dreaming on a Dream Island

Andrew Ryan

I’ve been remembering my dreams a lot lately. Over the counter painkillers have found me dozing off at all kinds of weird hours, only to be woken up by the tooth-ache those painkillers were supposed to remedy. “Uhhuhnnghhh, oh hey, I was just dreaming about eating broccoli” and other such inane crap has tumbled all dopey-like out of my mouth too often in the last week. But I’ve also had some really stunning, in depth ones. I can’t remember them now- especially since the dentist pulled that bastard wisdom tooth out this afternoon, all I’ve been able to think about is how I’m not allowed to smoke a cigarette. But they’ve been there in my brain, and it makes me wonder, if dreams were a currency, would I be rich?

Imagine a world, or an island, where everyone is just really in to embracing their dreams. And I don’t mean like taking great stock in the interpretation of their dream symbols or anything, I mean just INTO dreaming. They have a great respect for the dream state. Discussion about dreams is not boring or indulgent, it is totally relevant to their society. They run their lives based on the exchange of dreams, getting all the things done that they need, like tending the crops or bathing the baby or killing the pig or whatever, but all the while they’re chatting about their dreams, sharing the crazy symbolism and perspective with each other, and all their art work is about wondering what other animals dream about, and if inanimate objects dream, and when kids go to school there is compulsory meditation time to learn how to hone one’s relaxation state and get more in touch with the workings of the mind, so as to help the remembering of dreams upon awakening. Lucid dreaming is encouraged for only those over 18, as the issues and images that come through in dreams are a necessary part of growing up and learning how to deal with day to day life. Like drinking and taking drugs, the act of controlling one’s dreams is seen as type of avoidance.

Got that image in your head now? Good. “What a silly world” you might think. Well, I think it is less silly than a world based around the exchange of shiny metal for food and services. This world or island- I suppose it has to be an island- is small enough to warrant cutting out that middle man (shiny metal) and everyone exchanges food and services for food and services instead. The stress of earning and keeping the shiny metal is eliminated, and everyone’s got more time and energy to spend on, you know, good stuff like raising their children in a healthy way and fulfilling your goals and indulging your passions and whatnot.

Each morning the people of the island wake up, cook breakfast and do all the normal things in their homes/communal kitchens, and the previous night’s imaginings are exchanged. Each dream and it’s dreamer is respected, but greater importance is placed on the more substantial ones… for example, the dream in which I was at an airport that I knew was supposed to be Holland, but there was yellow sand instead of tarmac, and there was a pathway that lead straight from the plane to a cobblestone alleyway in the middle of a city… well, that dream would be the one we tell the neighbors, not so much the “I was eating broccoli” dream, there are millions of those. Sorry doped-up Tahlia, your dream doesn’t cut it today, but Tahlia with-a-decent-meal-in-her-belly-but-got-woken-up-by-the-fire-station-at-6am, yours is great!

And then at the farms or the looms or the distilleries or schools, the dreams are exchanged further. Soon, everyone’s got an idea of the top few dreams on the island, and it’s taken to the elders, all these old people who are too old to work so they just watch over everything to make sure it’s all okay, and they get to decide which dream was the best.

Best? What does best even mean? WELL… because the island is quite small, everyone knows each other, and the elders all have an understanding of each family group and the problems or joys going on in each. Each day when the island’s favourite dreams come to the elders, they spend the afternoon discussing the meaning of each dream in relation to the dreamer. Is it genuinely as complex and rich as it appears, or is the symbolism actually more obvious, the simplicity hidden by “randomness”? By 5 o’clock, the council have reached an agreement, and the island’s people gather below in the amphitheater to hear who will be announced the Dream Leader for the evening.

“Ah-hah! Tahlia Palmer is the dream leader!” and the population applaud, and everyone goes off to carry on the evening elsewhere, as normal. All but I, who must go check in with the elders, give them each a big hug, and then start the ceremonial choosing-the-word-from-a-hat. With the word I have chosen, I am given a few minutes to think of a peaceful, simple little story, then I record that story. The story is uploaded on to the island’s special intranet, available to each room in every house. As the population begin their wind down in to sleepy time, those who desire it point the remote at the little box with speakers, press play, and my recorded voice accompanies them as they drift off to their internal cinema. The sun rises a bunch of hours later, and it all begins again.

So in answer to my own question at the start of this piece: if dreams were a currency… there would be no such thing as currency. Just the idea of dreams instead of money gets rid of the need for money entirely. I wouldn’t have money, but I’d live in a far richer society. And I like the sound of that, because I am still a little doped up and I want to go to that place with the dream councils.