My sleep is often troubled by deeply symbolic dreams. I suppose with all of the trouble that comes in life, I consider it particularly unjust that I should not even have peace in my sleep. This past week, at Spokesmen’s Club, the toastmaster asked those giving speeches when they felt absolute peace. The results ranged from the bucolic to the eccentric, but I am glad that no one asked me that question, for absolute peace is something that has always been elusive to me, and I suppose I will not know such peace so long as I draw breath and so long as I am haunted by the intersection of my memories and my longings. For surely I have been formed for great trouble; for no purpose aside from trouble am I so well suited by temperament and personal background and painful life experience. For the most part, I feel a great deal of distress when I cause trouble to other people, especially because I tend to feel that most people do not deserve trouble from me, for we are all good enough at causing trouble for ourselves that any help from others in the matter seems a bit too much like overkill. And yet such trouble comes to us whether we look for it or not, often entirely against our own interests or wishes, for however much we may want to wish for the well-being of ourselves and others, we may simply lack the skill and opportunity to bring it about.
This morning I woke up before my alarm was scheduled to ring (which is early enough) because I had a dream that freaked me out. This is not an uncommon experience, as over the past few years my normal rate of nightmares (which used to be about once a month) has increased to once a week or more, at times as many as three nightmares a night. As a one-nightmare night, this was a bad night but hardly a historic one. What was particularly troubling about the dream, though, was that it dealt with my interest in maps. During the course of this dream I spent a great deal of time looking at maps. Some of the maps were very detailed, with street names and political divisions and rivers and creeks. Yet the map that I had to deal with was not like this, but was instead a loopy and twisty set of interconnected roads that were entirely absent of any labels or context whatsoever. There was nothing to let me know where the map was located, what the names of the roads were, why the road looked to be such a tormented and twisted thing, or where it went, or anything else about it. All that was there were the lines on the paper. Shortly before I awoke in terror, I wondered, what am I supposed to do with a map like this, and then sleep fled from my tired eyes and panic and gloominess set in.
On the way to work I heard a song that I have heard a few times, by a band I am unfamiliar with, but one that seemed to express my generally pensive and reflective mood. Doing a bit of research, I found that the song was called “Wild Country” by a band called Wake Owl. The chorus of the song contains the lines: “Maybe this is my heart and maybe it is yours / Burns away the eyes peering in our doors.” It is a song about reflection, about the problem of observation and it is clearly about the struggle of communication within a relationship. All of these problems are ones I am well familiar with and deal with over and over and over again. And yet the song, for all of the fact that it does not express novel sentiments, does so with a sense of weariness that certainly expressed my own feelings this morning after yet another night of troubled sleep. It is not necessarily a song that would suit every mood, or probably every person, but I try to make note of those particular songs that appeal to me at particular times, as it allows me to better understand myself by understanding the gates that are open into my heart and mind. Given the trouble that springs from both sources, to myself and to others, the resonance of the outside world and my own internal world is a matter of consistent and considerable personal concern.
I pondered as well about a strange coincidence of sorts that happened last night. Yesterday I read a deeply unpleasant book about the treatment of Christians in Iran, and a book that was difficult for me to review because it was based on confidential information that the author felt constrained to tell, but made certain points emphatically in ways that required the reader to trust him at his word. To be sure, someone who sleeps as poorly as I do and is as prone to nightmares does not need to read any book that gives detailed descriptions of the torture and degradation of political and religious prisoners. Certainly I do not make life easy on myself or those who care about me. Yet my reading of the book also seemed to coincidentally tie with another matter where I was to rely on the trust of something that could not be conveyed in detail for reasons of privacy and confidentiality that took place yesterday. Yet in neither place did I find it possible to trust, even if I conceded they might be true. I simply could not go further than to suspend judgment to a later date, and to allow the contents to trouble my mind anew in my sleep, in symbolic form. Nor did my skeptical approach grant any peace either, for I was left to wonder whether the overdetermined and coincidental nature of the two texts being so similar was designed for my skepticism, and if so, was that skepticism useful and profitable or not?
For surely, I do doubt my own heart and my own wisdom in those matters that touch upon my personal life. Certainly, I do not consider my heart wise , but if it cannot be wise it should at least be fortunate. Alas, it is not. Over and over again I find myself wrestling with the same problems. Surely my heart would be more fortunate with better opportunities, but such opportunities are not within my power to obtain (and believe me, I have tried everything possible and moral within my power and with no success whatsoever), and with better opportunities (or any opportunities at all) it might appear less deeply unwise. For I know my heart well enough to know that its longings must be directed somewhere, and even at those times in my life where (as in my first year in Thailand) I had no particular direction in mind, as soon as an apparent opportunity presented itself, those longings flooded disastrously in that direction, which put into place the divinely providential steps that led me to where I am, not according to my own will or my own wishes, which have really not had any say so in the matter. And yet if I seek to act consciously and considerately, why is it that trouble consistently finds me, no matter where I am, even asleep in my bed? Surely, if it is required for believers to have faith that God not only is, but faithfully rewards those who seek Him, surely His will ought to be a beneficent one rather than the malign one I have seen so far. Surely this cannot be the end of the story, but how much longer will the Author (and no doubt, many readers) gain amusement from my suffering and misfortune, until the happy ending of this plot is reached at last?
 See, for example: