Dreams

Stone Cross

Burnt alive in a house fire
Choked to death in my own bed
Overdosing on morphine
Shot four times in a robbery gone wrong
Drowning in a pool of water
Stabbed to death in a fit of jealousy
Pushed from a great height
Beaten and left for dead in the middle of nowhere

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

Thrown out of a moving train
Sucked out an airlock into the vacuum of space
Going down in an aeroplane
Hanging on to a railing for dear life
Jumping from a high balcony
Hit by a car while crossing the road
Killed in a terrorist attack
Executed as an innocent man

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

Betrayed by my best friend
Flatlining on the surgeon’s table
Crucified next to Jesus
Suffocated in my sleep
Crushed in an earthquake
Mauled to death by wild animals
Struck down by a heart attack
Dying in my old age sad and alone

Every night I dream these dreams
I dream of death and an endless pain
I dream of my death again and again

Electrocuted by a faulty wire
Set on fire for speaking heresy
Praying for mercy to a god I don’t believe in
Dying of a broken heart

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

She holds me and says it’ll be okay


I wrote this poem last night after lying awake most of the night with a series of vivid nightmares. Each time I closed my eyes I saw myself dying and it’s been happening off and on for most of this week. I had similar dreams a couple of years ago when I went through a traumatic period and I guess everything we’ve been going through recently, first with my father and losing our home and now with my grandparents’ dementia as well, has reawakened some of those dreams and flashes.

I was debating about whether or not to post this as it’s so personal and I didn’t want to worry anyone or give them the wrong idea about what I’m feeling (that I might be suicidal or something). I decided to in the end as part of the process of dealing with all this is opening up and making my feelings public. I don’t think it’s my best poem but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant more as a stream of consciousness and in a small way writing it has helped me to deal with some of the shit I’m going through at the moment, which is all I wanted it to do and I’m happy with how it came out.

The photo is one I took a couple of years ago, of a grave in the cemetery of St Jude’s Church in Randwick. I’ve always liked it and the atmosphere in the photo and I thought it suited the poem quite well.


Photo: Stone Cross © CJ Levinson 2011
Poem licenced under Creative Commons

Quotes for the Weekend

swans

Don’t you love a good quote? I know I do. I have several books of quotations and I’m always reading them. I use quotes with my writing and whenever I need inspiration, there’s always a gem waiting to be found.

With the US election and the state of the economy, I thought it seemed like a good time to post some of my favourite quotes. Somehow I think we’ll learn more by looking at history than by listening to Joe the Plumber.

Hope you enjoy them. Do you have a favourite quote to share? 😉

* * * * * *

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.
~ Isaac Asimov

I have no romantic feelings about age. Either you are interesting at any age or you are not. There is nothing particularly interesting about being old — or being young, for that matter.
~ Katharine Hepburn

Economic growth without social progress lets the great majority of people remain in poverty, while a privileged few reap the benefits of rising abundance.
~ John F. Kennedy

You know what I like best about looking at the stars? Not the stars themselves, but all those empty spaces between the stars… that’s where I can imagine infinity.
~ T.A. Barron

The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself.
~ Anaïs Nin

One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few.
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The highest use of capital is not to make more money, but to make money do more for the betterment of life.
~ Henry Ford

The library is the temple of learning, and learning has liberated more people than all the wars in history.
~ Carl Rowan

Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow; Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead; Walk beside me, and just be my friend.
~ Albert Camus

Where they make a desert, they call it peace.
~ Tacitus

Childhood Dreams

When I started this blog two years ago I had a different idea of what I wanted it to be about. You see, ever since I’ve been young I’ve wanted to be a journalist. If you asked me why, I’m not sure I could say; maybe I just wanted to be like Clark Kent (I had glasses too) but I remember being interested in the news and knowing that was what I wanted to do with my life. It probably helped that I had an interest in writing, but even then my style was more suited to essays than fiction or poetry. In high school I wrote an article about life in the 60s which became my first publication and that just confirmed my feelings.

In the end it didn’t work out the way I had planned. My last few years of school were miserable; I was ill and and by the time I had finished, my dream of a journalistic career had faded away. For a while I was bitterly disappointed but after a couple of months I threw myself into the next best thing: my fiction and within a few months had several stories published and started studying philosophy on the side. Basically that has been my routine ever since but I never stopped wanting to be a journalist. In many ways it’s my biggest regret.

I had maintained a website for several years, a CV with links to my work, and in 2006 I decided it was time for a redesign… but then I had an idea. One of the problems I had was that my work was speculative fiction; I’d had feedback that publishers liked my writing but didn’t get what I was writing about. But what if I created a column on my site which explored the same themes? That way I’d have something else I could show to publishers as well, to show that my writing was about an examination of life and philosophy, not just science. And so I created an early version of A Writer’s Life, and moved it to WordPress in 2007.

A Writer’s Life was never meant to be a blog as such; it wasn’t meant to be updated frequently and I didn’t expect comments or care about stats. My early posts were like a newspaper column and the blog’s purpose was just to exist for my work. But then a funny thing happened. Some of my posts started getting picked up by other sites. Suddenly I was being cited as CJ Writer, not CJ Levinson. And then people started commenting. To be honest those first comments freaked me out and I didn’t know how to respond. I hadn’t written those posts to be read and suddenly people were asking me questions! Help!

But slowly I realised people were responding because they liked what I wrote and their comments made my posts much richer than if I had just turned the comments off. Over several months I started to look at blogging as an outlet and a means of communication rather than as a tool, and my writing style changed to reflect that. Blogging became part of my routine; I looked forward to it and A Writer’s Life started to take on a life of its own.

But several months ago that changed. It started with a comment I received on my blog about my name, that I used CJ rather than Christopher. It was just a troll and it shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did; and then a few months ago I was viciously abused in a comment I deleted – only for the commenter to come back, accuse me of censorship and make the first lot of abuse look eloquent. I deleted that too but I started to wonder if it was really worth the effort. Blogging had started to feel like a chore.

At the same time as all this I have been very ill; I’m only just starting to recover now and the result was that I decided to have a break for a couple of months, have a think about things and hopefully come back feeling refreshed. What I didn’t realise was that people would start to wonder if something was wrong and I’m sorry if I worried anyone. I appreciate all your comments and emails; they’ve helped me more than you can know.

But now I’m back! I’ve had time to think and I’m looking forward to writing some new posts. For a while I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to come back but in the end A Writer’s Life still represents, if only in a small way, the life I never had. I’m not ready to let go of that yet. But I will be making some changes to the blog over the next few weeks. I might not post as frequently and I’m looking at ways to stop these trolls – and splogs. I also plan to share some of my photography as well, which I’ve never done before. Scary. 😉

So that’s the story of how I came to blogging. I never really wanted to be a blogger but in the end blogging has given me the chance to fulfil a part of my childhood dream and that’s been a wonderful thing. The blog continues to evolve as I evolve as a person; it’s no longer a column as much as a reflection of my life and philosophy and there have been more positives than negatives. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that – but then, what dream ever turns out exactly the way we’d planned?

There are many childhood dreams I’d love to fulfil. I’ve always wanted to see more of the world; to own my own home; to have a novel published; to start a small bookshop; to meet someone to spend my life with. We’ll just have to see how those go. My dream of becoming a journalist won’t happen but in this blog I get to write about the topics I would have written about. I get to live a small part of my dream; not many people can say that.

Our dreams guide us and I think it’s the attempt that matters most, that we try to reach them even if we never do. They’re the reason I write; they’re why I started this blog after one of my dreams died. And they’ve helped me to meet people like you, who I’d never have met. Doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off now, does it?

A lone voice crying:
Tears of sorrow on the wind
A dream forgotten

A lone voice singing:
Music of laughter and joy
A future revealed

Dreams

Fields

Do you ever have strange dreams? The kind that seem so real when you’re asleep but when you wake up, they make no sense? I’ve had a few; being chased by wild animals, finding myself in a different body…. they can be quite scary sometimes.

The strangest dream I’ve had involved clowns. I’ve never liked clowns. When I was a child I used to think they were evil… something about the way they could all fit into one car really freaked me out. In my dream I was standing in a field surrounded by clowns. There were dozens of them all moving in sync; they’d take several steps, stop and harvest the corn, then move on. They’d do it again and again, not knowing I was there. It was all so eerie, so quiet…

When I woke up I remember lying there, trying to work out what I’d seen. But it made no sense! Were the clowns supposed to be some metaphor for illegal immigrants? For cloning and genetically modified foods? I still don’t know now but in the end something about the dream stayed with me and a couple of months later I turned it into a story. I took the clowns and the fields and created verandis, a drug which gave people a high of fear; in small doses it was a cheap thrill, but in high doses it proved effective for torture. The Drug of Fear was one of the first stories I had published and it’s funny to think that without that dream, I’d never have written it.

I had an experience earlier this week which made me think of the clown dream again. I was getting the bus home and listening to some music. Usually I like to watch what’s going on around me, but this time I was staring out the window. There was a seagull flying overhead and one of its wings was bent; I watched it for about a minute, wondering if it was broken, how it might have happened. When I finally looked away I caught the gaze of a girl a few seats in front of me.

She was watching me, smiling slightly, and she didn’t look away like most people do when they’re caught staring. She just smiled again and the funny thing was, I knew what she meant. She wasn’t smiling at me, but she knew what I was doing; it was like we were the only two people on the bus who had noticed the seagull. It was a moment we shared and without words, it seemed special. We got off at the same stop and neither of us said anything, but it was a nice feeling, like for a moment we’d been linked in a dream…

But then in a way it was a dream, a daydream. While I was watching the seagull I wasn’t aware of anything else… I was somewhere else, far away. The strange thing is that usually I don’t dream when I sleep, or if I do I don’t remember them. But I daydream quite often during the day, and since I’ve been having trouble sleeping I’ve actually been dreaming more than I was before. Whether that’s a good thing or not I don’t know – maybe it means I’m too active and carrying my thoughts into my sleep.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting. Dreams fascinate me; we know so little about them, but they’re just one example of how amazing the human body and mind can be… even if sometimes your dreams are of fields of clowns. 😉