Likewise Ebeneezer Scrooge, I woke up at midnight, thinking I had slept through an entire day or that it was actually noon…And I suddenly remembered the three distinctive dreams that visited me in the nights previous to the new year. But unlike Scrooge, I actually like Christmas: I enjoy the decorations and carols and the time to slow down and the presents (which I received so many this year!). Instead, it is the new year that leaves me rather puzzled as I do not follow the common rituals: New Year resolutions? humbug!; yellow or red knickers on new year’s eve? cheap and uncomfortable!; 12 grapes of wishes? I eat more than my ration!, or running at midnight with a suitcase around the block to attract travels? they clearly do not know of Ryanair airdeals!. However, similar to Dickens’ Carol Christmas, this perception was quite challenged in the last days of 2015 when three “dreams” visited me before the end of the year…
The first dream visited me on the 28th of December, the day of the Innocents, and first I thought it was a trick. In the dream I was visiting some friends from the program Drugs and Democracy (Transnational Institute) in the Netherlands, where I worked for a good while in the early 2000s. Drugs policy was a key part of my life and research and I cherished the opportunity to meet experts such as Peter Cohen, and my mentor Eric Fromberg, which died unexpectedly last year. In the dream there was a celebration of sorts, with people coming from different parts of the world, Andrea Enthimofiou-Mordaunt from the UK, Ricardo Vargas from Colombia, Colette Youngers from the USA, Virginia and Bea from Spain, as well as the people from Belgium, joined the team of Martin Jelsma, Tom Blickman and Amira Armenta in their original HQs in Paulus Potterstraat. The dream brought me an image of a young me, sleeping in the attic of the building and having long conversations with Van Gogh (the museum was just in front of my window). I remembered how important was all of this for my life, my dreams of becoming a worldwide expert in drugs -which I somehow became through my PhD dissertation titled: Creating the cannabis user, a post structuralist analysis of the UK cannabis reclassification from 2002-2005. Wow, suddenly everything came together: my experience working with coca farmers had shown me the two sides of the coin, while living in a country ravaged by the so called “cocaine wars” of the 1980s and 1990s. My questioning of why a plant like cannabis can be both a “remedy” and a “poison”, and the ways in which governments and societies aim at “controlling” our bodies through regulations of what should be taken or not, guided my research and my current perception (and rather incredulity) of a potential change in drugs policy. … Anyway, the dream was more about reunions and encounters and how I was once part of this group, and how welcoming they were in a very important part of my life. I woke up a bit trembling and deciding to pay a visit to the TNI in my next journey to Amsterdam.
The following night, I was startled when the church clock struck one, waking in a mid-snore. I was glad to be awake, my dreams had been fussy and rather unsettling, I got a bit of water and get back to sleep. Soon I got into a deep dream where my friend Sam Warren is waiting for me. But she was not a giant in green robes sitting a top of a throne made of a gourmet feast! Instead she appeared as the patient listener of my many projects for 2016. I mentioned the amount of travels we have already planned for the new year: from mountains, to lakes, from transoceanic adventures to local seascapes, the year is fully packed with at least five journeys, excluding work traveling to conferences, and a potential encounter with Diana Uribe in Norway. I talked mainly about my plans to write two papers and a book, publish my illustrations, learn Adobe Photoshop, paint the series of People&Palms, and have time to swim, visit friends, write the blog and walking. Sam said then, “well, it seems that you won’t have so much time to do all of that, and rather you may be be working within the gaps left by preparing, traveling and resting from your holidays!”. I was completely taken aback by the reality of such statement. It is true, I won’t have so much time! I better try to be realistic and concentrate on what is important, and not to try to have “great expectations” that ultimately will be unfulfilled. Expectations can be a source of disappointment: losing weight, get that dream job, move to a new house, write those 3/4* articles, won’t really sort out our lives. On the opposite, the pressure that we put in ourselves when drawing these type of unrealistic plans can be quite stressful! I woke up a bit shaken, questioning my ambitions and a bit terrified with the prospect of carrying so much burdens in the form of expectations and plans. At the end, I realise how I am looking forward to traveling and doing things, but at the same time understanding that energy is limited and that it is better to be realistic and measured if I want to enjoy the year ahead!
In the last evening of the year, the visiting dream became more abstract and surreal. In it I am in an empty space, and through my hands I try to shape time in spheres, cubes or pyramids, like small sculptures made of frozen air. I cannot decide whether the good times should be spheres, and what the colours would be? Will I try blue for nostalgia and melancholia? Pink for tenderness and empathy? Orange for energetic creativity? Perhaps red for passion, danger and love? But there is not enough time to think and choose… indeed, time slips through my fingers, and my attempts at creating shapes are rather futile… moments pass and go, memories are shaped, stored, caressed and sometimes (mostly) forgotten. Our time in this Earth is quick, like the flash of a star, the lightening of a beating heart, speeding through a high way stream. No matter what shape I choose… they puff and vanish in the relentless stream of shapes and memories… they are bubbles exploding in colours and sparks, holding delicate thoughts, floating in the realm of memories: the past, the present or the future… in the dream I knew that all those moments will feed the “symphony of the universe”. Don’t ask me what this means. The dream does not explain anything, but the certainty of being fortunate to be alive was overwhelming.
I woke up with a calm heart, the night is still and tranquil after the “Frank” Storm: the shades of the naked trees rock slightly with a shy moon at the other side, lulling us with their presence. It is the new year, the new moon, the awakening. Upon realizing I have returned to the New Years Eve, I jump out the bed wishing the world “happy new year!” at the top of my lungs. Genuinely over joyed and bubbling with excitement, I barely took time to dress and dancing & singing my motto of “living beautifully”, not as a new purpose or resolution, but as a constant way of living in the world! and in my mind the wishes of Health, Hope, Happiness and Holidays came clearly… “and so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every one!” Happy New Year!