This post is related to this entry in my dream journal.
I think the theme of this dream is a continuation of the theme of being lost. In particular, I think it's related to the second dream of this dream journal entry, where I get lost while out biking with a friend in India.
I would actually like to mention quickly that the image of biking -- something I don't do on a normal basis (I'm more of a walker) -- probably comes from my reading this entry in the Busan for 91 Days blog, a really fun blog by two guys who are spending 91 days touring through Busan, South Korea. In the linked entry, the guys talk about not having rented bikes for their day of touring, and kind of regretting it.
These two dreams have in common the idea of being lost, not necessarily by location, but from people. In both cases I know where I am, where I want to go, and how to get there. My sense of being lost comes from my sense of being separated from people. In the "biking in India" dream, I'm separated from my friend, who is on a different path than I'm on. In the "city in a mall" dream, I'm separated from my family, though I'm not sure how I got separated from them.
But in both of the dreams, I know where I'm going. I even have an idea of how to get back to the people I've gotten separated from. In fact, during the dreams, I seem to feel that the endpoint of my travel is reconnecting with the people I've gotten separated from.
In the "biking in India" dream, my friend and I have just finished travelling through a desert with no, or very poorly constructed, paths. I don't get "lost" from my friend until we find ourselves on modern concrete paths. And when my friend and I get on diverging paths, I know exactly how to manage my travel so I can get back on the same path with my friend.
In the "city in a mall" dream, I'm with my family (whoever they are) while we're on a train -- not in control of our movements -- and when the train detours -- when we get physically lost. It's not until we have arrived inside the mall, our destination, and a completely constructed area, with direction signs all over the place, that I get lost from my family. Again, I know where my family will be, and I know our plans for the day. I know how to get back to my family, within the framework of knowing my location.
But in both dreams I never actually meet back up with the people I'm lost from. In the "biking in India" dream I know how to get back to my friend. But I'm slowed to a standstill when crowds and crowds of people walk out onto the path, heading down to a river to take part in some kind of religious ceremony. In the "city in a mall" dream, I'm actually standing in front of the hotel where I believe my family is. But I'm pretty sure I don't go in. I find out my family isn't going to the museum. So I think going to the museum by myself.
In the "city in a mall" dream, I hesitate before reuniting with my family. They are at their endpoint. I don't want to be at that same endpoint. They want to stay in the hotel and rest for the rest of the day. I want to go to the museum, like we'd planned on doing. But I know if I go up to the hotel room, I'll have a hard time coming back down to the mall-city and going to the museum. I'll be stuck in the hotel room with everybody else.
So in the "city in a mall" dream, I make the choice not to reunite with my family. I don't necessarily choose to stay lost. While I was searching for my family I was "lost" from them. But now that I know where they are, I'm not lost from them. They are where they are and I am where I am.
At this point, I'm turned away from my endpoint, but I'm no longer lost, perhaps. I'm wandering, maybe: directionless. Within a very structured landscape, where a person always knows (like the mall arrow tells him), "YOU ARE HERE," and where a person always knows how to get to the next place, I don't know where my final place will be, where my resting place will be, or at least when I will return to it.
In the "biking in India" dream, I can see my friend -- we can see each other! -- while I'm lost from him. My friend doesn't know how I'm going to reunite with him, even though I do. I focus on reuniting with my friend. But I'm suddenly stopped by a religious ceremony. So, whereas I hesitate to reunite with my family in the "city in a mall" dream, I am involuntarily stopped from reuniting with my friend in the "biking in India" dream.
The fact that I'm stopped by a religious ceremony is also interesting. There are crowds of people heading down to a river, possibly to wash themselves in the river. I don't know very much at all about religion in India. I know, from watching Satyajit Ray movies, that people wash in the Ganges River for religious purposes. I think that's how Apu's father got a sickness and died in the second movie of the Apu trilogy.
But I also think that the image of washing in the river comes from this music video. The video is from the Malaysian pop groups 6ixth Sense and Saujana. The theme of the video seems to be some post-apocalyptic world, where the survivors are all drawn together and inspired to re-shape their lives through religion. After making this choice, many of the survivors wash themselves in the ocean.
I watched this video the day before I had the "biking in India" dream. So I think the dream was largely inspired by this video.
But I think that the commonality in the endings of these dreams is that I end up being turned away from the people I was trying to reach. In the "city in a mall" dream, I become a wanderer, at least for a little while. I go to the museum myself -- or, at least, I stand in front of the entrance to the hotel, pondering whether I should go to the museum. I guess I'm at a standstill, just like I am at the end of the "biking in India" dream.
But in the "biking in India" dream, I'm stopped right in the middle of what I might go see while I'm at the museum. In the "city in the mall" dream, I simply think about turning away so I can go have a cultural experience. In the "biking in India" dream, I'm right in the middle of the cultural experience.
What really strikes me about the "biking in India" dream is that I have the choice -- obviously, I woke before making any choice of this sort -- but I have the choice of no longer worrying about my friend, and of simply taking part in whatever this "washing in the river" ceremony might be. What if I were simply to stop trying to move my way through this crowd, which is all travelling perpendicular to my path? What if I were to turn and move in their line of travel? What if I were to go wash in the river with them?
Well, it seems pretty obvious that I have a choice I can make at the end of the "biking to India" dream. There's likely no way I'll ever catch up with my friend. We're on two different paths now. My goal this entire time has been to catch back up with him. But it won't work. Now I can make the choice to stand still and do nothing until I can begin moving along the path again. Or I can make the choice to take part in the ceremony. The choice seems pretty obvious, even though I didn't get to make it.
At the end of the "city in a mall" dream, however, the choice doesn't seem so obvious. I'm at a standstill, just like in the "biking in India" dream. But it's not a standstill that I have no control over. I've stopped myself. And the choice I have to make is fourfold, really. Do I go up to the hotel room? From there, do I stay there, or do I come back down and go to the museum? Or do I go directly to the museum? Or do I just take part in whatever's going on in the general social space of the mall, like I could have chosen to do with the general social space of the "biking to India" dream?
I don't know. I never seem to end any of these entries with any feeling of certainty at all. I always end lost.