Dream Big

I had a really funny conversation the other day with my friend Colin who had always wanted to own a Jaguar E-Type. No matter how many years passed, his hopes of ownership stayed strong. Then as middle age was starting to approach he finally treated himself to a test drive in the dream machine. Trying to bend down to fit into the front seat was the first sign that all was not going to go well. The steering wheel was pressing against his legs, he couldn’t see out the (tiny) windscreen and the gears were impossible to use. The drive went by in a blur of tension and discomfort, and the noise was unbearable. He finally came to a shaky stop and extracted himself from the small space and shook his head. The dream was dead.

The story rang a bell. Harvey the campervan was our dream travel vehicle for years. He was so cute, blue and bumbling and adorable, and we were so pleased to finally own one of these iconic beauties. But despite the happy smiles and waves from strangers as we trundled along, all too often the journey was pretty fraught. The engine was temperamental, the seats were uncomfortable and when the wind picked up, it was quite honestly terrifying. One fateful day on the motorway a gust of wind actually lifted Harvey up and set him back down again (thankfully in the right lane) but we were terrified. Not long after that we started to look out for a more solid and reliable van – and Hans came into our lives. The wind doesn’t bother him at all and Chris can even stand up straight in the back. 

There’s something about dreams and reality – they don’t tend to match up. We close our eyes and sigh wistfully, but if the real world crashes into the picture it ruins everything. This is quite common, and it probably keeps us safe from disappointment. So why bother even trying to make dreams come true?

But sometimes stepping out of the dream and onto the path can bring incredible reward. Most of you know that five years ago Chris and I fulfilled a lifelong dream to run away in a van for a whole year. Hans carried us safely over hill and dale for sixteen thousand miles to see seventeen countries. And it was amazing. Yes, there were challenges, and it was hard to get going, but in the end I’m so glad we did it. No regrets.

Naysayers be gone, sometimes you can reach for the moon and it stays still long enough for you to hold onto it and bask in its light. What’s your dream?

Midsummer Dreams

Is it just me? Books tend to frequent my dreams as well as real life.

Lately I’ve become a bit obsessed with non-fiction. History, psychology, anthropology – you name it. These tend to be massive books too (although on e-readers it’s hard to tell until you’ve spent literally months reading it and the chapter mark still chirpily says 33%). 

But if you get the book edition, its heft makes you feel both studious and knowledgeable (placing your glasses slightly down your nose helps, as does twiddling a pencil). It also looks amazing on the shelf. Let’s be honest it’s the aim to impress that finds such editions gracing our shelves.

“This? Oh yes, the latest Yuval Noah Harari. I find his views rather postmodern to be honest.”

“Where are your thrillers and romance novels?”, asks a friend, scanning the room.

“Get out.”

And so on. Funny how many fantastic non-fiction books I’ve read and now I can’t remember a thing. Stories stay a bit longer I suppose. 

One book that still comes to mind though is Matthew Walker’s ‘Why We Sleep.’ It’s always been a source of intrigue for me, this odd species requirement to remain unconscious for hours every day. And this book is both fascinating and frightening. 

And then the fish said I was now the queen and. . .

Matthew Walker is professor of psychology in the university of California and conducts frequent sleep experiments. In the book he explains that REM sleep, and the dreams it brings, quite simply keeps us alive. Without good sleep, he argues, we get sick, grow old too quickly and cannot function. I heartily recommend his chapter on dreams – why they happen, what they’re for and those incredible neurological activities as neurons fire and get up to all sorts of things while we’re unconscious. 

And if a grizzly bear runs alongside your car and tries to open the door before politely asking if he can get in? Well, maybe Freud can help me with that one. 

Get an early night, reduce the glare from your screens, avoid caffeine later in the day – it’s not rocket science, it’s sleep science. And I’m learning.