June 16, 2013 by Lindsay Sharman
For the past hour I’ve been searching for an old e-mail I sent to mum around 2005 about this incredibly vivid dream I had of dad. I couldn’t find it, but in the process I went through emails to friends and family dating from 1999 to 2006. It was a really interesting (if you’re me) glimpse into Younger Lindsay’s mind and style of communication. She was more of a poseur than I remember, a bit intellectually insecure judging from some of the high-falutin references crow-barred into conversation (especially in the e-mails to an old flame, Christ, we both deserved a bloody slap). Strange, because I remember how little confidence I had, and yet I come across as incredibly sure of myself; zinging out over-egged witticisms like an obnoxious twat.
I’m being a little harsh on myself. Some of it is pretty (intentionally) funny. I just seem young and dewy-brained, adopting the sort of dramatic posturing you do when you think the world is being a bit slow to recognise how special you are.
I suppose the main thing that’s changed between Past Lindsay and New-and-Improved Extra Soft Extra Strong Sharman is (a) I give less of a shit about what other people think of me, and (b) I know how things work more (social contracts with other human beings, public transport.)
It’s a bloody relief. Stockpiling shits to give is exhausting.
Anyway! Back to the dream. This dream was and is important to me because it formed the basis of a personal life philosophy. I had it several years after dad died, and it was so vivid that I still remember the feel of it. So here it is. A dream (and consequently probably uninteresting to anyone else) of my dad.
The dream starts with the turning pages of dad’s diary, a diary that in real-life he didn’t keep. The pages turn as if blown by a wind, in very cheesy cinematic style. Then they flutter to a stop, and I recall a vague dream-awareness that this was because dad was no longer writing in the diary. Because he was, y’know. Dead.
(Another thing to bear in mind as context while reading this is that my dad was much loved, and his absence hollowed out me and my family for years. So the dream is suffused with a sort of…I don’t know how to put it. A special, bitter-sweet edge, I suppose. I had quite a few dreams where dad was still alive, but something nagged at dream-me, and dream-me knew something wasn’t quite right. It was like a sense of heightened awareness without being able to grasp the reason why I was on the alert. But with this dream, uniquely, I knew he wasn’t alive.)
Then the action switches (see, very cinematic.) Me and dad are standing side-by-side on the beach in Brunei where we all used to walk the dogs. We’re dressed in our swimsuits, stood on the sand with our backs to a strip of jungle. The tide is going out but we’re only about ten long strides to the edge of the South China Sea. It’s sunset, the sky is a dramatic wash of bright orange, and the sea is dark blue.
The atmosphere is really calm. I’m just stood with my dad, chilling, having a peaceful moment looking at the sea.
Then I notice his arms. In real life, dad had completely normal arms, but in the dream, they’re thin and wasted as if he’s been ill. It’s disquieting.
And then he says something no-one is going to understand so I’ll have to explain it, which will ruin the cinematic impact of a loved-one imparting wisdom from beyond the grave.
He said, “don’t let your arms get weak, Lindsay. You’ve got to keep them strong so the current doesn’t take you.”
Ahhhhh god. This really upsets me, writing this. Because what I understood it to mean was that he’d let something in him weaken, and that had contributed to his premature death.
(He died of a pulmonary embolism, so this doesn’t necessarily make literal sense.)
And he was saying that if I didn’t want life to pull me under, I had to build up reserves of strength. Exercise my….mind-arms. Basically, “be strong, keep strong, don’t let yourself weaken.”
And that’s essentially my philosophy. That and “let’s try and have as much fun as possible” and “I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to.” Although these philosophies don’t have any profoundly moving dreams attached to them.
Happy Father’s Day!!!