Not to humblebrag, but today I woke up at 3AM. Waking up early does you wonders, so I’ve propagated in favour of it in some of my posts. I don’t have any appointments until 10AM, which is when I have to get my biweekly shot of Haloperidol (an antipsychoticum) so I have nearly a full workday to write. Let’s go.
I actually woke up this early because of a significant dream I had. I’ll tell you about the dream in this post, but first I want to play with the idea of dreams a bit and how I think they work.
I believe that we are all on a journey to awesomeness. Not Barney Stinson awesome (I’m almost done watching HIMYM on Netflix) but inner zen awesome. To have the perfect wife / husband, perfect kids, no financial stress so that there’s no hunger and being able to travel anywhere you want and meet other people and cultures and accept those, so that there will be no more wars in the world and everyone can live in prosperity. That, in my opinion, is the definition of awesome. We work daily for it, we go to universities for it. We, as a humanity, struggle for it. Sometimes we fall, but we stand up for it.
You have to learn things to be awesome. You have to learn to read, write, work together, be nuanced in your thoughts, think positively and many more things that I do not know yet. I think my dream just helped me remember a lesson to be awesome, but I’ll come back to that later.
Some dreams are very structured. Jordan B Peterson has explained in his Biblical Series that dreams are the birthplace of thinking. Now he’s much more learned than I am, but I have to admit: dreams make me think. Some dreams are just so weird, but some dreams are just so clear… It’s almost hard to believe there’s not something behind them, a higher power or something, that wants to send you a message. The trick is to analyze the dream and extract the right message from it, like Freud did with his psychoanalytics. I’m starting to believe that from every dream can be extracted a message that sets you, and thus humanity (because it all starts with yourself) on a road to awesomeness. So today I had this very clear dream that contains a lesson that will make me more loved.
I will first tell you how the dream went and analyze it afterwards. Here are my notes from immediately after the dream. Note that this is already an interpretation, some elements of the dream were lost right after waking up; but these are the most crucial points I remembered to write down. A sidenote on losing dream elements: I often notice that when I wake up from a dream and try to fall asleep again, my next dream is detrimental to my first dream. Often I won’t remember my dreams at all and I’ll wake up groggy and unrested. But here are the notes.
So to start off, I had a dream about teaching kindergarten (1). The teacher in question had a problem: her class was unattentive during PE (2). The kids were shouting and throwing tantrums, saying they didn’t want to eat our fruit (this might make sense later on) and not wanting to do physical education. The teacher, a woman in her mid-30’s, was unable to discipline the class and turned to me for help (3) as we set on a bench made for six year olds. She was telling me about her problem, and after some careful listening I interrupted her (4) with the sentences “Have you tried calming them down by taking a moment of rest? Maybe they’ve moved too much” (5).
This might’ve been a bad reaction, because the next scene I remember is that I’m sitting alone in the childrens library with only books on a shelf to accompany me (6). I’m thinking really hard about what I did or said wrong, but I can’t figure it out (7). Then Patrick (8), a childhood friend of mine, shows up out of nowhere. He yells at me, tells me to hurry up and suggest a kind of fruit for the children to eat. I panick a bit and tell him that I don’t know what to do. My instincts tell me to just wait it out and hope that the problem solves itself (9), but then, suddenly, I remember to think (10). I pick up a book, which was called ‘Grandpa Comes by Train’ or something and start to read. The book was about a boy who had a grandfather who wanted to visit him (11), and after trying several methods of transportation, the grandfather chose the train (12). The boy and his grandfather had a grand ole time together.
Then Valentijn and Jan, two friends from my highschool, show up and suggest having the children eat peaches (13). They urge me to remember my lessons (14) as I walk through the door, reading (15), heading out into the hallway, back to the class with my mentor and the children in it. Because I’m reading a book the children don’t notice me. I find a place to sit down, still reading the book, and think about what to do next. The teacher is reading a book out loud to a little girl that’s sitting on her lap and has no attention for me. There is a computer on her desk. I choose to write her an e-mail to suggest peaches for lunch, but what’s the teachers name? I can’t remember (16). Valentijn and Jan are slightly disappointed
That’s when I woke up. Remembering the dream, I firstly opened my top nightshelf drawer and threw away my cigarettes (I’m trying to quit smoking but bought a pack of Marlboro Gold when I went to the inner city yesterday) and pondered on whether I should try to sleep again, but chose to wake up and start my day really early.
(1) In 2016 I was studying at the ALPO (Academische Lerarenopleiding Primair Onderwijs – Academic Teacherprogramme Primary School), the universitary programme to become a primary school teacher. While I didn’t make the cut (I partied too hard and worked too much on my sidegig as a bartender) and didn’t obtain great study results, the internships I did at primary schools in Gouda and Utrecht were very influential; I learned a lot. Working with children was so satisfying (not only do you teach, you learn) that I’m taking my chances and am now studying to become a highschool teacher, like my Geography teacher and two of my friends are. I think the main lesson to extract from this element is to never quit what you love, if you work hard it’ll pay off.
(2) The teacher’s class was unattentive during Physical Education. This reminds me of a moment where I had to give a class to four-to-six-year-olds on PE. The children saw this as playing, so I had to try my best not to let the class erupt into massive chaos. There were relatively big playing playsets (such as a slide) in the gym and the children had to take turns climbing the set and sliding off it. I was unexperienced and kind of nervous about class management, but my mentor, the class teacher, taught me quite a bit on how to keep children engaged. Small children have such a short attention span so it’s important to just start the class, explain what you’re going to do with eachother and let the children regulate the playing by themselves. My explanation took too long so the children started wiggling on the bench and were anxious to start. Then, when we started, I saw them have a lot of fun and adhere to the rules we made for taking turns. It actually went pretty well. Lesson to extract from this is: keep calm, keep your eyes open (safety!) and don’t use the precious time that can be used for playing to boringly explain procedures. You’ll figure things out as you go.
(3) Maybe her turning to me for help was a test. In order to teach something to someone, I’ve learned, you have to engage with the learner: you ask them a question you already know the answer to and help them figure it out on their own. It’s called a Student-Centered Approach, whereby the teacher functions as the facilitator. You pose a difficult problem just outside of what the learner knows, so that it’s a challenge, but not so hard that he can’t find the solution. I think there are two lessons here. As a learner: Don’t be afraid of challenges. As a teacher: Don’t be afraid to pose a challenge.
(4) I interrupted her. That was a mistake. Never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish their thought, so not only they feel heard, but you get the complete message. I can never stress this enough. It’s impolite to interrupt someone. An exeption is when you know someone so well that you’re able to finish their sentence, which can cause hilarity and strenghten the bond between you two. But always there will be a nuanced pause at the end of the utterance so you can jump in quickly and finish the thought. This takes practice and is different for every person. Not everyone likes it.
(5) Forcing children to do PE when they’re tired is hard. I remember this from highschool, when PE was scheduled at the end of the day: you’d already had a full day of seminars and then also had to do PE. You’d end up cracking jokes with classmates and not taking the class very seriously. In the dream, I suggested taking a zen moment, having the children meditate for a second so they’d be calm, and then go back to the PE lesson. Taking a zen moment (praying or meditating both help) before I know I’m going to be busy helps me stay focused. Lesson here: There’s a time and place for everything, but try to schedule beforehand so you don’t make things harder for yourself than they should be.
(6) I feel like, in the dream, I was sent to the library in order to get my priorities straight and think about what to do next. Reading helps with this, you encounter a variety of perspectives which can help you manufacture new thoughts and ways of approaching a problem. There’s also a kind of magic to the written word: I feel myself calming down as soon as I read. There was a time when I couldn’t stop reading (from age 3-12 and at age 21) so that there would be times when I read at parties or while walking. I think the lesson to interpretate from this is that it’s not all that bad to take some time for yourself, to think or to read in order to gain new insights. Even when you’re being sent to the library by dreamly force.
(7) When I was in Germany last December with friends, we were playing a game of Party & Co. The group was pretty much divided into two sets: those that were playing Party & Co. in the living room, and those who were playing cards for money in the kitchen. I remember thinking that the guys in the kitchen surely cursed a lot and that gambling is a tax for the poor. The atmosphere in the living room was quite cozy, warm and harmless in contrast. I was thinking about telepathic interactions with my Party & Co. partner Valentijn – in order to win I had to use all my brainpower to send him the right messages so he’d guess my questions correctly. My thoughts were: no cheating (although we cheated twice), keep your attention on the game (Michel was reading a paper, I think that that’s why he lost), no cursing and have fun. Whenever I had the feeling I broke a rule I subconsiously had to pee from all the grapefruit juice I drank, so I had some time on the toilet to think about what I did wrong. I don’t know if my telepathic powers are that strong, but Valentijn and I won the game, so I guess no bad things can come from thinking honest and good thoughts.
(8) Patrick was a childhood friend of mine who lived one street away from me. We used to play Legos together. I remember him calling my father an asshole to my face (not to my father’s face) because my father suggested that Patrick could do more in the household. I think I dreamt about Patrick because there is still some unresolved anger there – maybe because he wouldn’t let me play when we were playing Age of Empires on his family’s computer. Be nice to people about their parents, kids.
(9) When my father was angry at me because I did something wrong, my first instinct was to just shut up, look at the ground and not respond. Instincts can be wrong. This only made my father more angry so his disciplinarian monologues (thanks, dad) extended to “And now you’re silent, don’t you have a tongue?”. Lesson here is to never sit still, especially when you have a problem. Face them head-on. Be courageous enough to retort (don’t be a smartass to your father though, you’ll get spanked) with the justified answer that you DO have a tongue and that you’re a kid and that you didn’t know any better. We’re all here to learn to be awesome and that’s a process.
(10) Remembering to think is important. This is especially important when you’re drunk and dumb. Remembering to think makes you often act the way you should, even when you’re in a state you’re often not able to. In my dream, I was pretty lucid, so I had some influence on my thought process. I remembered that thinking is the first step toward solving a problem, and that life pretty much consists of solving one problem after another. By immediately suggesting something to my teacher, I made the mistake of not thinking properly and that’s probably why I was sent to the library.
(11) When I visited my grandparents last Christmas, my grandfather (Opa Bert) asked me if I still smoked. When I said I did, he told me his story about how he smoked for 35 years (because smoking was more normal than it now is) and tried to quit three times. He eventually quit because it was better for his health and finances, and because he didn’t like standing out in the cold to take a smoke while the rest of the company was having a good time, being warm and cozy near the fireplace. My grandfather was head teacher at a primary school in Veenendaal, and he has told me the story of how he became a teacher after the Second World War (where he had to fight in Indonesia) a lot of times. Inspiring man, especially the way he’s still up and running and caring for my grandmother but I’ll save that for another post.
(12) I don’t think it’s incidental that the grandfather chose the train: I travel by train almost daily. One of my first memories of going to a party with my dad was that we rode the train to Rotterdam and he called me and my brother world travelers. I felt so big that moment, like the whole world was developing at my feet and I had all the possibilities to do what I wanted. I breakdanced the whole evening and got compliments from a lot of friends of my dad, all Filipinos. When I ride the train to Utrecht, where I study, I mostly look at the flat landscapes of the Netherlands, I listen to music (psychill) or I read a book. For most of my life I’ve lived near train tracks and I’ve discussed with friends that that might be a part of who I am.
(13) I think this is a reference to the times I sat next to Valentijn, Jan and Luc in my Latin class in highschool. I mostly freewheeled on the homework they did, just getting by grade-wise. I see Valentijn, Jan and Luc as smart people (they all did technical studies in Delft) so I try to heed their advice. I think their advice in my dream was to time the moment to adress my teacher since she was busy reading a book to one of her flock. It’s important not to interrupt in quality time, so I thought I’d send her an e-mail so she could check it when she had the time. The fruit of their choice, peaches, could be something sexual: the shape of a peach is often associated with vaginas. I think that people nowadays could be more open sexually – it’s A LOT of fun as long as long as you do it safely and caringly!
(14) I’m beginning to believe that every interaction with other human beings is meant to teach you a lesson (thanks, magic mushrooms), to gain a new thought or insight in order to become more social and awesome. Sometimes you learn something, sometimes you teach something.
(15) The power of the written word is not to be underestimated. You delve deep into the mind of the protagonist, who helps you shape you into who you are now. One book that helped me on my way to inner peace was Siddharta by the German writer and painter Herman Hesse. My dad read it in college and left his written notes in the book. Although I’ve lost the book (I lent it out to somebody, but can’t remember to whom). Siddharta describes the trials and tribulations of an Indian prince, who has various occupancies throughout his life, in order to become enlightened at the end of the book. Great read.
(16) Remembering people’s names is very important. Adressing someone by their proper name is like music to their ears; not many people do it. When I’m being called by my name my attention is immediately sharpened. Throw in a couple of first names in a conversation, when you’re asking a question for example and you’ll see that people become more open to what you have to say. I think this was the main lesson of the dream: try to remember people’s names.
When you read my notes from directly after the dream, you’ll notice that I threw out the cigarettes that I hid in my top drawer. Since New Years, I’m trying to quit smoking (although it’s not going very well. Longest is a three-day streak). You have to really want to quit the addiction, like the vendor who sold me the cigarettes told me. Not smoking is better for your health and your wallet. I’ve calculated that if I stop smoking, I’ll save 5000 euros by the end of my study – a third of my current student loans. I had a great-aunt (Tante Corrie) who had the anekdote that in her life, she’s smoked up a house. Smoking is only slightly cool, kids. Try everything once but once you get hooked, it’s hard to stop.
On a sidenote, I got my first contact through this website! It’s from an old friend of mine who now lives in America but whom I’ve met through my time in Utrecht. If you fill out the contact form, I get an e-mail, so don’t hesistate to shoot me a comment. Positive shoutout to you, Sydney, if you’re reading this.