The Tug

At night, when I’m dreaming, I always tug. Not the duvet (although that as well!), the situations. In my sleep things are dragging, go slow, or don’t move at all. It feels very muggy.

My dreams usually have an objective. I end up with a task to fulfil. I don’t know where it came from, who gave it to me and why. I just have the feeling that this task needs completion. And it needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. There is an urge that tells me I MUST complete the task now, whether or not it is possible to achieve.

The dragging and pulling in my dreams is the same as if I was trying to run in my sleep. The dream is like mud, that stretches everywhere. I try to run, but I cannot move. I try, you pull, and pull… In the end I am still in exactly the same place I started at. It is so tiring!

I sleep badly. Well… I sleep loads (I get my eight hours a night on average), but the quality of my sleep is bad. I wake up more tired (in body and mind) than I was before I went to sleep. For years I’ve attributed it to some sort of bodily deficiency. Maybe my brain produces too much of some chemical, or maybe too little of some other? Maybe the mitochondria in my cells leak ATP? Maybe tissues in my muscles take too much energy, and are always “hungry” for more rest?

What if the quality of my sleep is not of physical origin? What if all the tugging that happens in my dreams is causing the morning fatigue? Do you know what I mean? Is it possible that the dream-state-me just gets too tired during dreams, and as a result of it the awaken-me simply does not rest throughout the night, and I wake up knackered?

If that’s the case, the logical solution is for the dream-state-me to just relax, let it go and stop pulling. It’s obvious, right? JUST STOP PULLING, WOMAN. RELAX. YOU’RE IN A DREAM! But she doesn’t know she’s in a dream. Not usually. Lucid dreams are not something I remember happening to me.

So… I can’t tell the dream-state-me to relax. She probably doesn’t even know who I am. She doesn’t know she can relax. To her it’s not a dream, it’s real life, and she has this sense of responsibility, she wants to complete the task. The dream presented a scenario where something, ANYTHING, needs to be done – she will grasp at the opportunity with all her might. She doesn’t rest. Her mind doesn’t rest. She picks up all the tasks in hope of one day “clearing her plate”. She hopes one day all the tasks will be complete.She hopes she will then finally be able to rest. And she needs to rest. She’s very tired. She’s also frustrated, as every time a task gets cleared off the plate, another one takes its place. And the wheels on the bus go round and round… But she doesn’t understand she’s exerting herself. This poor woman is so tired from doing what she think is best. She doesn’t know she’s in a dream. She doesn’t know she can relax and just go with the flow. She’s blinded by the need to push things forward, and she’s very stubborn.

She sounds a lot like… well… ME.

I know I tug at life, the situations don’t change much though upon my tugging. They have their own rhythm, they change when they mature. In the meanwhile I just keep getting tired. The tired me doesn’t easily notice the beautiful things that happen around me. I develop a tunnel vision. I keep on working on my mental task list. The tired me is cranky, impatient and anxious. If I am like this, I know the dream-state-me will be similar. That’s because she doesn’t know any better… yet.

There is irony in life. Whether you push hard, a little bit, or don’t push at all, things will happen. The universe will thread the path of least resistance. This means you CAN change some things by going against the grain, but it will cost you dearly. You will be cranky, depleted and hazy. The question is – will attempting to change the course of a river be worth the price? Will all the energy put into changing the future be really worth spending?

Sometimes it will. Sometimes wrestling with the universe is what you need to do. For the world, for your wellbeing, for a higher calling. And when that’s the case, tugging at life will be totally worth it.

Most times however (or at least I think so) the tugging is not required. It does not change the grand scheme of things. You end up in exactly in the same spot you would have, without desperately pulling at life.

Society tells us (or we somehow feel it does) that we should “shape our future”. We take it as gospel and wrestle with life from as early as primary school. Sometimes even earlier, if we are put under pressure by our parents (who do not know better neither, as they are trapped in the same vicious circle or massive urge to pull at life, that promises great things, but very rarely delivers on its promises).

We take it as gospel and we go with it. We walk through our teens fighting and struggling. We walk through jobs exerting ourselves. We rest very little. The urge to pull at life lies to us that we need to “deserve” and earn the right to rest. It is all very fucking tiring!

What can we do with this vicious circle?

I’ve been reading some books (links below) about this sort of thing recently, and my thoughts are:

  • Stop yourself from tugging at life whenever you notice you are doing it. Stop even for a split second. It will be uncomfortable and you will feel like you’re “doing life wrong” when you first pause, but simply try and see what happens.
  • Say “yes” to situations that present themselves. You now the ones: the ones that universe (or a God/Goddess if you’re inclined to trust in a diety) presented you with. Do that instead of working yourself to the bone to create your own situations. Maybe the universe knows better?
  • Work at the stuff that is in front of you. Don’t let yourself get anxious about all the scenarios that MIGHT happen. Do the work on what you have right here, right now. Do it well. Put your mind to it. Don’t waste your energy on worrying about all the future scenarios. What’s next has not yet arrived, and it may never do. That’s unless you have a great mission, and you’re in what we call flow. But make sure you understand what price you pay for it, and take care of yourself whilst on your mission.
  • Rest. Take care of yourself. Rest on productive days. Rest on days which you don’t think you’ve achieved what you should have. You need the rest and you deserve it. Always!
  • Find something to get back to when you get wound up. Try meditation, walking, hugging a friend (or a tree), sitting quietly next to a fire, pet a cat. Come back to the present to help you re-set the anxiety about what’s next.
  • Detox (not in a diet way, say no to diets! Dies culture sucks.). Detox from things, situations and people that make your stress levels go up. You won’t be always able to do this, but you should try. Do you have a friend that aggravates your stress? Take a break from seeing them for some time. Do the same with places and situations. I avoid coffee nowadays. It was hard to go off it, but I did in small steps – I’ve been so much better (and I accidentally discovered matcha on a “coffee date” with friends. Thank you, universe!).
  • Read more. I find books and articles about how to care for oneself help me remember that I am not the only one stuck in this cycle, and that it’s not all about racing life, but actually living it.
  • Breathe. Mindfully. Try meditation (I know I’m repeating myself :)). Keep coming back to now.

Hopefully in time you and me can both achieve less anxious lives, and more relaxing dreams. Maybe us and our dream-state-selves can let go of the grip we have on life and find ourselves ok in the flow. Maybe the flow of life can become less stressful if we just kick back and let the universe do its thing?

Some books you should consider if what I’ve written resonates with you:

  1. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  2. First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A new conversation about anxiety

  3. The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection