Life is but a Dream?
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
January 20, 2024
January is a good month to dream as it is the month that we honor Martin Luther King Jr. We are reminded of his dream speech and his desire for a time when promises of freedom, justice and equality becomes a reality for all. There are so many books on King, written for all ages and all kinds of readers. The book I enjoy the most is the illustrated picture book "I Have a Dream" with its simplicity and vibrant art embracing the spirit of King's speech and giving weight and purpose to each one of King's words. They flow across the page just as they flowed through the air from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial so many years ago.
Great and important figures have influenced our dreams. While Albert Einstein is not the first person one would think of as a dreamer, he did willingly drift into unknowns. As a scientist, Einstein led the world on a path toward new inventions and deeper knowledge about the real world. He was both a scientist and a mathematician. He introduced us to relativity, simply defined as how space and time connects, opening the door to think within new norms. With all things considered, it was time itself that intrigued Einstein the most.
Author Alan Lightman wrote a novel about this subject titled "Einstein's Dreams." Though Lightman had no specific knowledge of Einstein's actual dreams, he had studied Einstein's path as the scientist contemplated time. The fictional portrayal finds Einstein in Switzerland as a young man, working in an office writing up scientific papers. Lightman uses interludes to portray Einstein in this life. In between are dream-like episodes where Lightman has Einstein dreamily contemplating possibilities, using characters weaving back and forth in ever changing levels from real time to past times, future times and more.
Perhaps not a book for every reader, you may be ready to change things up a little, shake the sand in the hourglass, make the hands of the clock go backward. Is time relevant? We are very attached to time in our current world. Is there something waiting for us to embrace, stretch and explore?
In "The Lost History of Dreams" Kris Waldherr takes the reader into a Victorian Gothic mystery that explores loss, grief and letting go. There are no ghosts, but there are specters of the past to be dealt with. Photographer Robert Highstead photographs the dead. Post-mortem photography was popular in an era without instant cameras and iPhones. Where today we avidly photograph loved ones, activities and even meals, some families in Highstead's time did not have even one photograph of a loved one to remember them by after death. Photographers were called to bedsides and coffins. They even posed corpses with living family members, to preserve the faces together for when memory inevitably fades.
Highstead is called to accompany the body of a cousin, a dead poet, to be reunited and buried with his beloved wife. But mystery lurks when the sister of the deceased wife makes demands that opens both the sister and Highstead up to dark secrets. Life comes with a mix of hopes, dreams and complications. People can become broken in the process, with dreams shattered. If you enjoy the writing of Bronte and Jane Austin, or the newer works by authors like Diane Setterfeld and her "Thirteenth Tale," you might like this new timepiece that brings you into a world gone lost, but then again found.
In the night when the mind wanders through sleep, dreams are formed in murky unknown places. One can also plan out dreams while awake, purposefully choosing both path and goals. Myself, I am a purposeful daydreamer, where the sleeping and wakeful mind co-mingles, and for a little while one can live beyond boundaries where skies the limit and the destination can be enjoyed or re-set with a do-over until it feels just right.
A children's song goes, "Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream." Whatever dreaming you enjoy, hug it tight. Dreams can be the gift that keeps on giving, even if life is breaking you.
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.