I dreamt last night that I was offered work on a small, old-fashioned farm, and it was exactly what I wanted. I could ask for a decent salary — which was odd, all things considered — but I wasn’t happy because of the money, I was happy because the kind of job was exactly what I wanted and because I wanted to get away. I felt desperately that I wanted to get away. Not that I’m opposed to using my brain; I just didn’t want to waste the energy that I have for intellectual tasks on something pointless. I wanted to work with the land — and with words in my spare time.

This was always the case. Not just in my dreams. I didn’t want a job that would drain my mind, but at the same time leave me restless. In reality , unfortunately, everything and all my wishes were even more unrealistic. I wanted to herd sheep. Nobody herds sheep anymore; you’ve got to get a university degree, do something real that makes sense in the modern world. I even used to say it: I want to herd sheep. No, you don’t,  I heard, you want to go to the university, and become ‘something’. That’s the only hope. One that turned out pretty hopeless in the end — but who was to know that.

So there you are, with a useless degree. You keep excusing yourself for the utter pointlessness of your existance. You know these theoretical things nobody ever wants to know about, at least not from someone — well, me, I am talking about me — who won’t cope with the competition and who doesn’t care about a career. Who doesn’t have a family to feed, and never will.

And you wouldn’t be able to herd sheep, not even if your life depended on it. Agriculture and space travel and understanding DNA all seem equally unattainable. They’re all incomprehensible, they’re all enigmas.

And in reality, nobody would ever offer you a job on a farm, not even if  you asked for a very humble salary and wished for no job security at all — because, truth is, you grew up in the city and went to the university and wasted your life on advanced nonsense. You’re incompetent in everything that matters. And even if you weren’t, these jobs barely exist anymore. The machines do them better than humans.

In a dream, everything is different. You have potential to learn practical skills, even if you have barely set your foot in the countryside before. The world you think you want to live in is possible, in the dream. Then you wake up. Quite literally in my case. And begin anew to covet a fantasy that you have had to forget many times over.

It’s a romantic dream; a longing for a life that can’t exist, and perhaps never could.


27 thoughts on “dream

  1. Hey, Alicia, There in Sweden it should be possible to enroll in a bio-dynamic agriculture course. Probably just what you need (very sub-consciously). Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  2. Haha, Frank! — but yes, of course, it is quite possible. There is a biodynamic gardening program as well. And this will probably delight you — but not the skeptics — it is free for the student (it has public funding).

  3. Alicia,

    There is a way, given you would consider using your degree, earn a lot of money and go for an early retirement. Then buy a “torp” with some land and some forest and live on and off what it gives. It is what people do in my parts, except they inherited the stuff, so did not have to buy it.
    Plenty of nice little places for sale around here in the wilderness, between Småland and the civilized World. Give it a thinkover!

  4. I have actually, several times. I think there’s one thing that causes me to remain skeptical: the utter isolation. The hard work, and having to fix everything on one’s own and by oneself.

    (Also, it’s not that easy to make a lot of money when you’ve spent years neglecting to get any career at all. Unfortunately.)

  5. Point taken. Your career seems quite similar to mine, then; closer nowadays to retirement than peak (if retirement cannot be considered a peak). Utter Isolation is not quite true here, we have a bus running 5 times a day and 3 on weekends. But a 4-wheel-drive car always comes in handy for shopping and social functions (which actually exist, but nobody can hear us scream and roar here in the bush..).

  6. What is the point of howling, if nobody is there to admire you, asks mr Dog, who is used to being admired when he howls. Although this evening one lady suggested he sounded like a goose!?

    Well, yes, the car thing is an issue. It seems so difficult to live in the countryside in Sweden.

  7. Purely a matter of habit, or rather, getting som of the badder habits, like rising early and feeding the dog and such. Drive a car is no science, nor shooting deer and raising hens. And mr Dog will have lots of admirers for his howling, as we have 2 kennels (bitches only) in the village. Another academic would raise the cultural standard here by a 100%, so we would start to feel civilized.
    If you hesitate too long, you can still come when you retire!

  8. Then start without hesitation. To rightfully own a driver´s license gives you a freedom of movement and an action range within the day that you could not dream of, being in your present state slave to SL and SJ, whose main business is taking your money and little else. You do not have to own a car in Stockholm, it is cheaper and more practical to attend a rental company. Out here in the wilderness there is not much else to lay your money in, except theatre and opera in Linköping, Norrköping and other metropolisses, some art exhibitions in Vadstena or Motala, or buying cheese in Boxholm, go for ice cream on the Göta Kanal in the summer or just sit in Vreta Klosters Church and contemplate why a Danish Prince was elected King here in 1130 and is said to be buried here, too, although he fell in a battle in Skåne 1134.
    Pity for the Ostrogothians, who had to tow him all the way back here.
    If you should happen to become a catholic (not alcoholic) there is a nun monastery in Vadstena. There the pious sisters enjoy food to a degree where they are all overweight, so you would be a healthy role model for them.

  9. Cat-holic! Dog forbid! What an awful thought! For canineosophical reasons, I probably prefer alcoholic.

    It’s over two years since I’ve ever been inside a car. No — correction, I had an eye operation last february and then I took a taxi home because my mother was adamant I didn’t take the bus. (I could have.)

    I totally rely on SL and on walking. Owning a car is out of the question, of course. It’s impossible here. Well, not impossible in general, but definitely for me.

    Cheese and ice-cream, now, that’s life.

  10. I feel like the Big Bad Wolf, trying to lure the Young Lady into the Thickets of the Forest of Horrors, waving a basket of Ice Cream and Cheese. Well, I did not succeed. I must take a crack course in salesmanship or something. Or something….

  11. I always follow the cheese. Any true canineosophist does. It gets complicated when different traces of cheese lead in different directions.

    The big bad wolf should have stuck to cheeses and avoided grandmothers. That’s what happens when wolves forget the central tenets of canineosophy. Follow the cheese, howl at the big cheese in the sky…

    …well, I’m hallucinating, half-way into sleep…

  12. 2 years since you’ve been in a car! That is absolutely astounding! We must have very different lifestyles! I spend 2 hours in the car on a good day, often more (that’s getting to work, when the traffic isn’t bad and the traffic is usually bad). For the 2 years my father was sick I spent 10 hours driving every other weekend.

  13. Yep, except the one cab ride. It was before the snow came in 2010 that I last was in my parents car. It was an old car (as old as me!) and they don’t have it anymore. They never used the car for daily transports either. Transporting goods, going to grandparents, holidays but not daily. Car is very expensive compared to public transport. It’s also absolutely hopeless to own or use in central Stockholm.

    I don’t even have a license!

  14. “It’s also absolutely hopeless to own or use in central Stockholm.”

    Ha … you live in a very civilized place – I’ve thought this before, and I’m sure it’s true – you would be absolutely appalled by the way we live if you came to Philadelphia. See, it’s also hopeless to use a car in center city Philadelphia, but that doesn’t stop us, we do it anyway, cursing, threatening each other, clenching the steering wheel in a rage, restraining ourselves at all only because we realize the other person might have a gun … we’re barbarians.

  15. To be fair, lots of people here aren’t stopped either. But it is expensive, there is no parking, et c, so at least lots of people are deterred. I suspect public transportation here is fairly good, as well, though it doesn’t always seem so…

  16. I’d be willing to bet, public transportation is a DREAM where you live compared to where I live! We all use it, it gets you there, usually, but it’s a painful experience.

  17. Hi Alicia – we’re still classed as a farm here, and people in Devon still keep sheep. My daughter’s cello teacher once found some sheep in a lane and carefully herded them into entirely the wrong field – they don’t tend to be helpful when it comes to these matters. And of course you need the right kind of dog. You need a dog who will herd your sheep but not chase someone else’s sheep, which is frowned upon for some reason unknown to the dog.

    I believe this dream indicates that you’ll be paying a visit very soon!

  18. Mr Dog would be the wrong dog. He has other tasks in life than to heard sheep. As a great spiritual leader, he counts on the sheep to follow him…

    Devon does indeed sound like my cup of tea. English small towns are much nicer than swedish… well, there really aren’t any small towns of that kind. With a pub and a few shops and stuff like that.

    Truth be told, Diana, I think most people who have to use public transportation in rush hour feel that it is a painful experience. Or those who live outside town and have a long way to travel on full buses or trains (that fail to show up in time or at all). The way I use public transportation it’s generally without problems, though.

  19. Yes, you’re right, but … I’m still pretty sure you’d be horrified if you tried our public transit.

  20. Goodness. That is an unusual story. Believe me, we lock everything, we are (speaking of Philadelphians in general) quite paranoid and suspicious and don’t trust anybody. We check locks obsessively, we have alarms and security systems on everything, flood lights around the house, etc. Of course, out on the farm it’s the exact opposite, we never lock anything and only worry about bears.

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