Brooks (brooksmoses) wrote,

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On dreams of piles of free books....

cicadabug's recent dream that involved boxes of books scattered in the mud, and an offer for her to take what she wanted, reminded me of a post that I meant to make a few months ago and never did.

A recurring thread in my dreams is something like that; books or Legos or model cars or suchlike scattered in a (usually muddy) field, as if in a never-ending junkyard. Or washed up on a beach, or piled in heaps in a room, or otherwise scattered in unsorted disarray. And they're always free for the taking, and unlike cicadabug's books, these books haven't been hurt by the mud, and they're all things that I want. But there's always a time limit; it might be on the beach and the tide is rising, or it might be that we only have a few minutes before we need to dash off somewhere else and aren't going to get a chance to come back, or it might be in a train car on a train that's about to leave town, or it might simply be that I have nothing but my hands to carry things in.

The story is always the same: here is a gift of plenty; of piles upon piles of things that I want, more than I could possibly take. More than I could possibly use. But there is no time to sort through and make the best choices; no time to take even what I would want to take. There is only time to pick up what I can hold, and to wish that I could have more. And what I do not take will be gone forever.

I think it probably symbolizes a certain sort of stress; I feel often like my life is the same way -- there are so many things I could do with my time, more than I could ever want. But there is not enough time to do them all, and when I feel stressed and depressed, I feel like I am in an endless beach filled with Legos that are about to be washed away by the tide, and I can only take and save what I can pile in my hands.

But the dream has other effects in my life, too. A few months ago, someone donated their late husband's collection of engineering books to the department, for the grad students to have what they wanted. And they were in a back room, boxes on boxes of them, in piles on the floor where others had gone through them, but there weren't really many people who wanted any. It was very strangely just like the dreams.

Which is probably a good part of why I ended up taking four full boxes of them home with me.

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