journal, Life, over7seas, Travel, Trying life in America, writing
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Where do dreams live? (journal of an emigrant)

Having experienced life on different. continents, having become familiar with different life perspectives I think I may have a little bit of an idea of where dreams may still be found alive, even in 2020.

I often find myself questioning my own wisdom of having chosen this peripatetic life abroad, ever more removed from my native language and the culture of the place that I am from. Moving away at first seems like something that is always reversible. After all, all that seems necessary is a ticket home, right? But as that cliche saying goes: You can never step over the same river twice. And as you can’t revisit the same river you will also never be able to return home. Not the home you left because you will have changed and the place you once belonged to, too, will have become another.

The people you leave behind remain on their respective paths, while you have catapulted yourself out into the stratosphere of difference. How do you return from that? From having seen the world, not just seen it but having become a part of it, the wider world, not the localised experience of the world.

Your, or perhaps I should write this in the first perspective, my comprehension of what is and what isn’t, what is possible and what impossible have all changed beyond recognition. If I was to meet myself circa 1994, my mind would be blown, but then again, perhaps it wouldn’t. I think if you have the power of being a dreamer then everything becomes imaginable. If I met my future self back then in the past, I think I would be able to understand this me of this 21st century.

Less pondering about time travel.

Who do you become when you leave the place that your friends stay behind in? Can you go back? I don’t think you can? I think once you become an emigrant you will forever stay foreign no matter where you will go. Even when you ‘return’, you will return as a foreigner to the place that once thought it knew the entirety of you. Maybe all this says is that we each are unknowable.

No, I think once you experience so many different world perspectives you become a little bit suspicious to your old friends. Is it a kind of envy? Or a kind of pity they feel for you, having estranged yourself? Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Maybe another question I should ask myself is this: Do I want to return? What is the price of return? What is the definition of return? Return to the old? I don’t think so. Who could bear to return to their old self, the self that since their time of departure experienced so much?

What does a returnee bring with them?



And why is it that it seems as if one’s adventures hold so little interest to those we return to? I have noticed this many times, how I would go on a journey, return to my respective home and find nobody really cared all that much to hear what the world outside looked, felt, smelled or tasted like. Why are we so disinterested in other people’s adventures? Is it lack of time?

I always felt sorry for the memories that I gained but that found no eager ears and eyes upon my return. Imagine all those memories, sitting in the crevices of my synaptic folds and wondering why they only matter to me, who experienced them. Why is it of so little interest how I watched the water buffalo get a wash with a sponge and a bucket of water, by the side of the street in Mysore, Southern India?

Maybe it was my choice of presentation? Maybe I never tried enough to share these small memories that felt so wonderful. Maybe my list of adjectives wasn’t evocative enough. Quite possibly.

Maybe the memories got stuck in transit not for lack of interest but because I didn’t realise that the medium I chose to convey them wasn’t quite the right one.

Dreams. Don’t you find, too, that it’s been a while since they felt possible? Why is that? When did we all stop even having time to remember our dreams? What are your dreams? What do you dream about? Do our dreams dwindle simply by the reality that the amount of future ahead of us depletes as we age? Is that a thing? The older we get the less entitled we are to foster dreams?

Dreams definitely relate to time. When most of our daily time is taken up by the countless tasks that are required for our daily survival, how can we dream. But if we don’t dream about anything nor for anything then what kind of life is that.

Dreams live where there is time and time is where we make it, take it, insist on it. Having time has a lot to do with choice and that’s a hard sell if you were to tell me this while I am merely surviving. If somebody was to tell me these are your choices I would have to hit them. Nobody purposely chooses a dreamless life. And I don’t believe that everybody has choice. But a lot of people do but don’t acknowledge it.

Excuse me for all this pondering, but I declare dreams to be alive EVEN and especially in 2020, because we need them. Many dreams may be in ICU and hanging by a thread but it IS time to continue dreaming and living some dreams once again.

The neurotic ticking off destinations travelled to is probably not that good a dream to pursue, but what is wrong with some dreams being quiet and small? Why do we all of a sudden feel that we can not have what we dream of?

So if I wanted to live between 2 continents, why can’t that be possible? Because it’s not the done thing? Because I have no wealth? Watch me, maybe it is possible and maybe even without burning myself out in the process.

Do you want to buy a house but have little money, maybe none? Tell me, because I think many of us can still manifest this dream. We just can’t have everything, not all at once. But if you had to pick 3 dreams, what would they be? Tell me any random ones coming to mind. I am curious.

One of my current dreams is to find something purposeful that I could do while living in Asia. I might never live this dream, but I can dream and desire it with all my heart. It’s my dream and it is a possible one. Even in my mid 40’s, why should I as a woman not be able to live such a dream if I choose to?

Another dream I currently have is to buy a house somewhere on the East side of America, maybe the Berkshires, maybe upstate New York, maybe Vermont or something up that way. Somewhere with snow in the winter and gorgeous colourful autumns (fall seasons for you American folks – remember I still am so confused between British English and American English). Why shouldn’t I be able to still manage to buy a house in America, even if I have nothing to show for my life as yet?

Another dream I have is to complete a second postgraduate degree, publish essays and photography in magazines and books and work with clients on narrative tableau vivant type photo shoots. Teach a semester or 3 at a university and make a healthy living with the photography work, with some video and Art direction thrown into the mix. Why shouldn’t a woman in her 40’s be able to do this? Society moulds us to expect our lives to be so limited. As if opportunities only existed for the younger ones among us. Is it true? Maybe but maybe even this truth has limitations, and not everybody subscribes to these.

Another dream I have is to buy a spacious place in Germany. It actually can be a small place and I would rent a separate studio for my working life, in that case a small place would feel spacious enough, as all my work materials could reside in the studio / office space (and the studio/office would be tax deductive, how practical is this section of my dream, and ultimately how simple are these dreams?)

I also have dreams that I know I can not have, and to think of them causes my heart to feel sore. And finally I have dreams that I am keeping as little secrets for myself, for now.

So where do dreams live in 2020?

In spaces where there is silence. You can not dream if you are perpetually stimulated and perpetually consuming. Dreaming is an act of creation and creation needs silence, and a part of silence is time. Create time, create silence. There dreams live.

Is there an age limit to the capacity for dreaming? I don’t think so, but I am only in my 40s. This is a question worth exploring. Are you ever too old to dream or do you (we) just think you (we) are?

p.s. As I just wrote some keywords for this journal entry I realised I didn’t even address the elephant in the room: The American Dream. Can the American dream even still exist in this time? This deserves it’s own journal entry. I think this is a huge quandary to ponder another time as it is so tied in with the politics of our times.

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