My first waking image yesterday morning, well before I opened my eyes, was of a magnificent jungle waterfall, cascading down through several levels and widening symmetrically as it went, the whole scene fringed by luxuriant green leaves. It was so clear, so unexpected, so startling that I lay there holding it in my mind’s eye for as long as I could before letting the day in.
It wasn’t strictly a dream, but it came to me unbidden from somewhere and it seems reasonable to assume that it was telling me, or rather I was telling myself, something. A quick Google of ‘waterfall dreams’ yielded a lot of the usual nonsense, though there were a couple I liked. This one: “Waterfalls are said to symbolise the process of letting go, cleansing and the continuous flow of energy and life. So a waterfall in your dream can highlight the importance of letting go of the negative thoughts that have become lodged in your mind.”
And this one: ”Consider yourself lucky when you dream of a waterfall. This positive symbol represents a harmonious and balanced state of mind resulting in inner peace. In fact waterfalls are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and said to increase our bodies’ production of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for relieving stress and depression, and for boosting our energy and happiness.” I imagine they mean it’s the seeing or being by, or dreaming or thinking of, waterfalls that lowers blood pressure etc, rather than the waterfalls themselves.
Whatever … some inner peace would certainly be welcome. With a book coming out in just over six weeks, a son getting married in two weeks, our house to prepare for an AirBnB let before we leave, and a big work project in hand, it seems pretty elusive right now. In truth, though, I wonder if what I feel doesn’t also have something to do with what I referred to last week, namely the effects of the pandemic.
I don’t know whether the shock to society bears any comparison with that of war – for some on the front line, both medical staff and patients, it must have done. For most of us, it disrupted the patterns of our lives in ways we had never before experienced. All the familiar routines were upended, connections were broken, and however much we may have relished the first few months of ‘freedom’ – those of us who were lucky enough to do so – on some deeper level, to creatures of habit such as we are, it was surely profoundly unsettling.
It’s only fourteen months since the end of January 2022, and the final lifting of all restrictions. Now we’re trying to find new rhythms, new pulses to regulate our existence, because we can’t just slot back into the way we were before. Connections need to be remade or reshaped. New patterns have to be established. And, speaking personally, it doesn’t always feel very easy. At times I find life feeling fragmentary, as if pieces of the jigsaw have been thrown up in the air and are waiting to settle back into place again, but with a different picture. At other times I have the sense of having been knocked off my axis and that I’m still trying to right myself.
It may also, of course, have something to do with age and the adjustment that comes as one moves into the later stages of life – I’ll be 74 in September. And it may be down to all sorts of other things. But I’m curious to know if other people have had or are having similar experiences. Meanwhile, I’m hanging onto the image of that waterfall.
I’ll be talking about Don Roberto: the Adventure of Being Cunninghame Graham at
– Boswell Book Festival, 14 May, 1.30pm, Boswell House, Ayrshire bookings
– Aye Write, 25 May, 7.45pm, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow bookings
Interesting stuff, Jamie. You touched on a few things that I’ve
experienced over the past few years – sparked, I’m pretty sure, by the
pandemic. I’m getting on a bit too – 65 next birthday – and find that I
lack purpose and direction. Yes, I’m still working (freelance
copywriting) but increasingly I feel a bit detached – from what, I’m not
sure. So, a dilemma: do I press on in search of ‘normality’ or accept
that things are changing and hit the reset button myself?
Maybe it’s got something to do with over-thinking things and having too
much time for reflection? Perhaps I just need to get on with life…
So, I don’t think you’re alone in experiencing uncertainty. Thinking
about it, certainty gives us security and peace of mind. Without it,
we’re more vulnerable (he says stating the obvious).
I’ll look into all this waterfall stuff!
I remember meeting you many, many years ago – at Scottish Enterprise if
Good luck with the book launch.
Thanks Peter – good to hear from you. Whatever ‘normality’ you find, I guess it won’t be the same normality as before!
I like your use of Google – throw away the dross and hold onto the bits that you like.
As to the effects of the pandemic – this calls for a dinner and long evening of whisky or wine to discuss. Enjoy the wedding and the buzz of your book coming out.
Jamie, yes! Absolutely! I totally feel that same ‘slightly knocked off my axis’ thing. But also sometimes a sense of being unmoored, of being a small boat which has drifted just too far from shore to be able to believe that I can easily get back… and then the not knowing which shore I will get back to, even if I do.
The pandemic, for me, will always also be associated with my mother’s dementia and how that has impacted on our lives… but also how the pandemic enabled new possibilities, including being able to base myself in Galloway to mind Mum when she was still living relatively independently. And now how it allows me to move to Galloway and keep my job fundraising for a global charity, which was un-imaginable in 2019.
I started blogging about Mum’s dementia and my relationship with it, and her.. and I feel I would benefit from your regular rhythm, my posts are somewhat sporadic at the moment. Hey ho.
Lovely to be reading your musings again, and feel that we are still vaguely connected through words, across time and space.
I had the rhythm at one time, Lois. Remains to be seen whether it’s still there! Good to hear from you and glad you have fulfilling work – from a beautiful place.
Delighted to welcome back and read your ‘A few kind words’. You were missed.
I feel the need to respond about waterfalls. Last December I experienced not one but two waterfalls.
Burst pipes cascaded water throughout my home for several days rendering it uninhabitable.
Now, four months later, I’m awaiting for the start of the drying out process which involves walls, tiles, ceilings being stripped out. Most contents thrown out or written off.
I may be back home in autumn or even early winter.
It is currently a very challenging process both personally and practically. I find myself living a very nomadic life but not out of choice.
I’ve always felt that the power of waterfalls, or indeed running water, brings a new energy, cleansing and flushing out old stagnant ways of being.
Hydrotherapy in extremis.
My experience of lockdown is different to many.
As I had had a very scary, frightening two week illness with covid before the March 2020 lockdown, what followed was nothing short of a joy of living!
Just so grateful to be alive. I loved the quiet world that ensued hearing bird songs more than noisy traffic.
Being 70 feels such a watershed !
Ah da best
That’s some drama in your life, Hazel – I didn’t know about either. I hope the waters are calmer and more restoring now.
Ah. Excellent to see you restored, Jamie. All that remains to be dusted off is that evocative coffee cup – something that, especially when, pre-retirement, still office bound, served as such an uplifting harbinger of weekend!
Your post pandemic disrupted jigsaw metaphor is telling. It carries the assumption of a pre-existing framework into which we all require to fit altered pieces. A conversation about the plight of a very bright and high powered young professional juggling real responsibilities in almost total social isolation prompts a concern for the generation who have come first to the world of work during or since the pandemic and lack that pre-existing framework. WFH has allowed their seniors more freedom but at the cost of the casual, but direct, face to face interaction that gives “experience” to knowledge and “critical analysis” as an antidote to fad & emotional fashion.
Those many wholly worthwhile members of the House of Lords may gift their wisdom to society day in day out but, to qualify for their daily allowance, they must do so in the most effective forum, the House. Time to rejig remuneration packages more generally perhaps to reward those who do share their ideas through attendance?
And, in your case, time perhaps in that spirit to resume those Thursday evening sessions at your local’s piano?
All the best
Wednesday evening these days, Ewan – and I agree, lack of face-to-face contact does none of us any favours.