A Dream About The Other World
© Copyright 2019 by Laura Labno
I dreamed a strange dream this night. Of course, all dreams hold strangeness of a kind but this one made me feel in that particularly unpleasant way – It left an aftertaste which made me feel drained. There were lots of plots in it, which I'm not quite able to describe but I remember that there was my dad in it. And he wasn't happy. Maybe it's because I talked with him yesterday, thats why I dreamed him.
When we talk he always puts on a mask of ... well, "happiness" would be way too much to say. But he doesn't show how lonely and unhappy he really is now. I know, of course but he tries not to show it (Or perhaps it's his way of showing it.) Every time we talk I'm being, willy-nilly, reminded of "the other world out there". Here, in Bangor, I'm living as if in a fairytale. Most of my friends here wouldn't understand it if I said something like this out loud. Only people with similar or worst past than me could possibly understand it. I tend to say that the university (at which I ended up thanks to my strong intuition and a series of unbelievably fortunate events) is for me like home but in fact it is much more. It is a safety zone, a sort of fairyland, almost Utopia. Because I have enough of everything here – Food, my little room, loving friends, resources to study and to develop my passions. I have to work and do things that get me tired but its the kind of effort and work that is necessary for well balanced life. I have here all the things that in Poland (at least in the area where I come from) would seem for many people like taken out from a movie script.
I don't think much about "this other world" and this "other life" much but when I do the contrast is striking and it just makes me feel exactly the way I feel now – Drained. The Other World didn't have many significant prospects. It was dirty and full of sad people (initially I wrote "rude people" but the truth is that at the bottom of their rudeness there was just sadness). It was a life lived in an old, falling apart house, few years without electricity and even hot water, in a constant financial struggle. First, with a mentally ill mother and then with my dad who, as for the situation and his capacities did exceptionally well but who, at the same time, couldn't, and can't, offer me much in terms of life opportunities. It is because throughout his life he made so many debts that even if he would like to work legally he simply couldn't (even if he wasny almost 70 years old) cause debt collector would just confiscate everything. I am happy in a way that I need to earn everything on my own because it gives me an independence and freedom which most of my friends don't have. On the other hand if we had money when I was younger I could have learned so much more. I wouldn't need to quit music school for example and I could develop my other skills more professionally. But skill development requires training and training requires money - At least for most of the time. There are opportunities for financially disadvantaged in Poland, I can't deny that, but here is another thing – My dad wouldn't push me. He saw that since I was a child I was always drawing, singing, playing guitar, writing. He let me do my own thing (Throwing in some critique from time to time) but he wouldn't try to find ways of actually helping me to develop them properly. And so I was doing "my own thing", without much guidance, and so all my skills are now on a very average level. If I attended any extracurricular activities it was because I wanted to do so and, in fact, my dad would often be unhappy with this, complaining that I didn't spend enough time with him at home. So there wasn't much encouragement of that either.
Currently I'm reading a book titled "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" by Amy Chua who introduces in it a Chinese style of parenting by writing about how she raises her own daughters. Most of us, westerners, would find it very extreme and even cruel. Her daughters don't get to decide on almost any matter, they don't get to "have fun" and need to spend hours a day doing what their mum tells them to (studying, practicing playing an instrument, doing household chores). I also think it is extreme and I wouldn't say that I wish I had a childhood like this - I value my freedom most of all. And yet I can't deny that I feel a jealousy of a kind towards her daughters. Because their mum would push them to their very limits and I'm realizing now that I wish I was pushed like this when I was younger. I wish I mastered an instrument at the age of 10, I wish somebody pushed me to get the best grades at school. I really regret no one did. All children are born with a potential but rarely with an immediate will of developing it (Or if they have such they still need guidance and encouragement – almost no child will willingly spend 3 hours doing, lets say, math tasks without an instruction to do so).
It's interesting how one dream, which left almost no clear memories of it, merely a bitter aftertaste, could bring so many thoughts to my mind. I think I feel guilty that my dad and so many other people are forced to live in The Other World. Perhaps I should clarify that the country that I come from is obviously not experienced like this by all the people. Perhaps it's unnecessary to say that – After all, in all places you get people from poor and rich backgrounds. Only, my case is a little unusual, because actually my family comes from an aristocratic background and it's just a very long series of highly unfortunate events that led my dad to end up the way he did. I think it's his free spirited soul that led him to it (soul that I inherited). But that is another story.
Nevertheless, I think that even for people who come from, how I tend to say, "normal" families in Poland the life opportunities there are not as good as here. Things are improving but slowly and I feel a guilt mixed with disbelief and gratefulness that it is me who got to come here and get all of the things I keep getting. It's not to say I had the worst childhood of all because I know that things in the other parts of the world (and some other families) are incomparably worst. Moreover, it gave me a lot of experiences that I'm grateful for. I'd like to believe that this short agglomeration of thoughts (cause I wouldn't dare to call it a story) holds at least one message – A message of appreciation. No life is perfect and it's easy to look at the bad aspects but I wish sometimes that some people were better at seeing what they have rather than what they do not have.
After all every one of us could always live in An Other World.