If there is one silver lining for me in this whole global crisis situation, it's that I had the chance to spend so much time with my son, talking about so many things. When I think back to this time, one of the major things I will remember is walking with him every day, and I am grateful for that time. In a couple of years he will graduate, the world will be in some new-normal state, and he will begin a career and move out - so you better believe I treasured every moment with him.
That said, on the first morning when I walked alone, I was grateful for that, too. For the first time since the shut down, I could give my inner life some space via these daily walks. You see, since March my days have been packed - wake up, light breakfast, walk with my son, shower, get online for work for 8-10 hours, dinner and TV with family, often overlapping with a little internet time for fun and/or for my side gig, then bed. Occasional phone calls with family and friends. I am still reading a book I started early in the shut down, usually over breakfast on the weekends. Paying bills, doing household chores, seeing neighbors for appropriately distanced socializing. Rinse, repeat. There is not a lot of free time in my schedule, and it wasn't until I was suddenly free of having to make conversation, at a time when I don't need to complete routine tasks, or attend another work meeting on Webex, that I realized my inner life was being so sorely neglected. I feel happier now after a month of solitary walks, and it has a lot to do with giving my inner life some space each day.
There is a ton I could say about why it's important to cultivate your inner life, but I imagine that's not what you come here to read about. If you happen to be interested in this and related ideas about why experiencing silence and why being alone is good for the soul, here are some really good articles from Brainpickings about those topics:
The Sound of Silence: An Illustrated Serenade to the Art of Listening to Your Inner Voice Amid the Noise of Modern Life
John Cage on Human Nature, Constructive Anarchy, and How Silence Helps Us Amplify Each Other’s Goodness
How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time
Keeping Quiet: Sylvia Boorstein Reads Pablo Neruda’s Beautiful Ode to Silence
I bring up inner life in connection with this wonderful song for a few reasons:
1) I remember being a teenager, having a crush on someone, wanting to speak with them, hoping they would notice me, spending time in my room alternatively daydreaming and brooding over what it might be like to be with that person - and this song brings it all back. It's a reflection of what I guess is probably a very common teenage inner life experience, in other words. Being lost in your head over someone else, the longing and loneliness, it sounds very familiar. I wish I had this song to listen to in high school and college, I think it would have been like an anthem to me ;-)
2) In my opinion, the pivotal point of the song's story arc is 'Maybe one day soon it will all come out / How you dream about each other sometimes'. If I am understanding it correctly, that new awareness is the catalyst for these two people to finally be together, and seems to be part of why they were able to get through troubled times.
Why should dreaming about someone be so significant? Why is it such a big deal that it had to 'all come out' that they dream about each other?
Food for thought: How often do you tell someone you had a dream about them? Even a close friend or family member? Do you feel comfortable telling someone they were in your dreams? Or does it feel too personal to say something about it? Do you worry what someone might think if you told them you dream about them? Do you ever dream about someone and wonder what the hack they did to get into your dreams? That casual acquaintance who turns up somehow in a dream you can't shake when you wake up, and you begin to feel differently about them after that - closer to them, somehow?
Also: How often does anyone tell you they dream about you? Would it surprise you to find out an acquaintance at work had a dream about you? Or a classmate in school? Would that seem strange, even intrusive? Or would you feel somehow closer to them knowing they had a dream about you? How would you feel if your closest family and friends said they never dream about you - or dream about you a lot?
This is just my experience, but I don't talk about or witness many conversations about dreams. Dreams are part of our inner life, and as such I think people often protect them, consider them important but private. We may forget our dreams on waking, or carry them with us into our day; we may learn from our dreams or be thoroughly confused by them; we may experience our dearest wishes in our dreams, or our worst fears. The waking inner life is important, and so is the inner life of dreams.
I would argue, too, that dreaming about someone means that they are in some way an important part of your inner life. And that may be why these two people learning that they dream about each other gives them space to discover and share their real feelings, and to face troubled times together despite giving up before. You can go along missing the mark many times; you can think you know how someone feels about you for years even, believing them to be indifferent or maybe even disliking you, only to be shocked into the wonderful realization that all along you were part of their inner life, their dreams, and their hopes for the future, as they were in yours. But a future together isn't possible in this case until they share that part of their inner life, the part that reveals their love, the part that puts their vulnerability into the daylight. How beautiful and rare is that?
3) You may remember a few years ago I wrote a 'two lines' blog about 'Illuminate the Sky' by Martin Halla. The blog focused on 'I wish you'd stay', and I had intended to write about the other line, 'So we could enjoy each other's space'. In the end, I archived the first blog and didn't write the second blog - way too much of my inner life was/would have been on display, and again, you don't come here for that ;-) But this song now gives me one way to explain why the second line is important to me: he describes a closeness with someone that goes beyond mere attraction and/or sexual conquest ('not to invade or to degrade'), what he wants is a closeness of compatibility, and in my opinion, of inner life. To me it sounds like he's describing spending time together in close proximity, in conversation and in companionable silence, learning about one another's inner lives and finding a real joy and inspiration from this experience. I think of enjoying each other's space also as a kind of true intimacy, not just coming together for quick gratification - a spark that flares and dies - but a togetherness that offers a sustained connection that continues to grow - illuminating the sky with its brilliance.
4) Finally, musing about my inner life recently started me thinking about why Magne's music and art is important to me. I realized that in a way his songs have not only formed part of my inner life (in terms of the time I spend listening, thinking about and writing about them), they also resonate with the inner life I've always had. I can relate to his music in a way that I can't with Paul or Morten's music; the inner lives reflected in their songs sometimes feel almost alien to me. But what Magne shares of his inner life is accessible to me, familiar to me, even when I may not fully understand it, if that makes any sense.
This is another blog that has been in my head for a while. After the loss of two family members in late July, and all the activity around my son moving back to school a month ago, we lost another family member this week. My heart is sore but I am trying to keep positive. Magne's recent post about music and art coming soon was a spark in the void for me this week. I am grateful to have something to look forward to that I know will have a place in my inner life, as all of his work does.
Take care out there, life is short x