I do not usually remember much of my dreams. But last night I had one, parts of which stayed with me when I awoke.
I was visiting with my friend Smadar who is a painter. She was busy with something or other around her studio, not noticing me enter. Round and about, in my dream, her space didn’t look anything like her real studio. But then again, I was seeing only parts relevant for the dream. Right at the entrance I noticed a canvas standing on an easel, that was coated with yellow paint. It had pencil-marked areas colored in. I wasn’t sure if this was the actual painting or just a preparation for what will be painted over it later. There was no particular form to the painting which would make no sense in real life, as my friend is a realistic painter and this was abstract. But hey, it’s a dream… I noticed three small areas within the painting that were canvas-white, untouched by the yellow paint. Immediately, I picked up the still wet paint brush and started coating one of these areas with a strong sense that it will make the painting better, more perfect. All this time my friend still did not notice me. When I was done (in my dream this only took a minute,) I put the brush down, stepped back and looked at the painting with a sense of satisfaction. I felt that now it was great, that my small addition made it perfect. But then a sense of dread took over me. I found myself doubting whether this was perfect only to my eye but not for Smadar. What if she left those empty spaces on purpose, and me filling one out, though seemingly an improvement in my opinion, was not so for her? Smadar then noticed me and we talked about it. She wasn’t angry nor did she indicate how she felt about the change I made. She was sort of neutral in her response and then the dream drifted on to another scene, as dreams often do, without this part being fully resolved one way or another. I was left with a strong awareness that what is perfect for one, may not be for another; just a strong feeling that stayed with me until the morning. I must admit that this is not some divine insight; that this idea is quite simple and well-known. Still, coming like that in a dream, and taking root through the small hours of the morning, felt profound.
The dream itself continued into another part in which Smadar’s studio had a bunch of pigeons appearing on a narrow top windowsill. Smadar was no longer present. I was watching the pigeons who suddenly appeared to be not pigeons but, I realized, goats… There was the leader of the group and he was conversing with another goat not by bleating but rather by speaking a real language I was unable to understand. The only words I picked up were ‘Hari Om’ from Sanskrit (even though the rest of the words were not of that language.) When their chat was over, I approached the leader, and through some hand motions as well as my own words, confirmed that I heard it right, and that indeed they said ‘Hari Om’. It reaffirmed to me that animals have full consciousness, much more than most humans grant them, and that slaughter of animals for food is wrong. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the topic of this post, but it also remained with me from the dream so here it is.
In the next part of the dream I remember, I was visiting with a friend whom I have not seen in a good 10 plus years; a contractor named Omer. I was in a large room that housed both his bedroom and a desk. He showed me the end-panel of the bed and without saying much I was aware that he didn’t like the way it looked. He then walked away and left me on my own. After busying myself with various tasks I do not especially recall, I remember finding a sort of a chisel plane and cutting into the center of that end-panel. My work was crude but I took out a chunk of wood. My friend came back and was happy with what I did. I was worried because of the crudeness of my work, but he told me not to worry, that he would easily sand it to a nice finish later. I was glad I was able to detect what caused him to feel the original panel was imperfect and assist him in making an adjustment.
What is perfect? Obviously it’s a very subjective notion. For some people, living a simple life is just right. Put them on a private yacht with servants and they would feel overwhelmed and ill-at-ease. For others, there is the feeling that the more one has, the better. We live in a materialistic age, in a consumerist culture, more is never enough. “If I could only have the latest iphone, life would be perfect,” yet it never is. Maybe for a few moments, before we want the next great thing, the next fix that will make life even better.
I see this also through my website production business. A client starts a project asking for a simple clean design. Then they start adding more and more to the homepage. Since real-estate space is limited on a computer screen, it soon becomes cluttered. Years ago I learned from my own artwork as well as from graphic designers I worked with, that the eye needs a place to rest, a breathing room, or it gets tired quickly. We need one prominent place to focus, and lots of space to rest. I am not arrogant enough to claim this applies to everything in life, yet I can state that when it comes to multiple elements in life, less is more.
Reading recently a beautifully written yet utterly depressing book, it occurred to me, along these same lines, that the author didn’t give me, the reader, a break. That she kept on pushing for sadness rather than creating a breathing room of a little humor once every few pages. This same principle applies to quite a few of aspects of life including fashion, travel, and food. Have you ever been to a party, a holiday meal, a feast, where food was in abundance? We find ourselves stuffing our plate, taking from this and that, and then, despite ourselves, eating more than we should; a little bit of everything? Maybe in the first few minutes it feels great but then we no longer enjoy the food, let alone the sense of sickening nausea that follows. It is something the French cuisine recognized a while back, creating small dishes, taking time between courses, allowing each food and taste to get its own center-stage.
Now how did I get from a vision of yellow paint and talking goats to French food? Go figure dreams.
Learned from: a dream.