Where do ideas for writing come from. I've read some really good blogs in the last few months from my friends in the #earlyrisersclub – often taking an idea or a thought and using these to explore their own sense of self and place in the world. My approach to both my blog writing and paper writing also tends to be a result of something I've read, or a conversation I've been part of (or overheard), or I have seen something that sets off a train of thought. I often don’t know what it is I'm going to write or how I want to try and say something until I put fingers to the keyboard. This week it was different. This week I had a dream.
In his most significant work, The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud described dreams as being ‘the Royal Road to the Unconscious’ - a way to unlock the information held there. Information in the unconscious is often disturbing, and it is held in check by the preconscious so that it cannot be passed into the conscious mind without being first of all altered. Although at originally Freud described dreams as being a form of ‘wish fulfilment’ in his later work he moved away from this position.
I am not sure how my dream would have been interpreted by Freud, but he was into the detail of peoples dreams and would often ask them to describe such detail in his analysis. It was one of the details that sparked the stream of consciousness that is this blog. My dream saw me attending a play (in New York) that started off in a ‘Smokey Joe’ type café, and which as the play progressed was slowly transformed into a modern chic wine bar. As the audience applauded the end of the play, the whole wine bar rose into the air, and in a moment we were all flying across the New York skyline.
In my dream I was delighted and poured another glass of red, reaching into my jacket pocket to pull out a cigar, which upon lighting up, brought a sense of contentment and happiness. At this point I awoke from the dream to find myself still in bed with an almost full moon shining in the night sky.
I have no idea what the dream might have meant – (and vivid dreams are a possible side effect of the medication I am taking) – but it was the smoking of the cigar that held my attention. I once was a smoker, and smoked French cigarettes and French cigars, the latter much more habitually. One day I decided enough was enough and stopped smoking overnight. That was a long time ago now and whilst I no longer hanker after a cigarette, I do sometimes fancy having a cigar. But I have resisted the temptation now for some 12 years.
As regular readers of this blog know, I am very much opposed to smoking in any form. In the UK, over 100,000 people a year die from a preventable illness that is attributable to smoking. Yet there are still nearly 8 million people in the UK who continue to smoke. Men on average, smoke 12 cigarettes a day (compared to 11 for women) which shows a continuing and welcome decline in the rate of smoking. However there has been a corresponding rise in the number of people using e-cigarettes. Often it is smokers trying to give up. However, and perhaps more worryingly, is that information that people aged 16 -24 years of age are among those most likely to have taken up e-cigarette smoking, and 20% will progress to smoking tobacco.
To put this into perspective, way back in 1974 almost 50% of all adults in the UK smoked, with one in two smokers dying from a smoking related disease. However, smoking is still the biggest cause of early preventable death. So maybe some readers might find it surprising to have included Freud in a blog that talks about not smoking. He regularly smoked at least 20 cigars a day – and said ‘that smoking was one of the greatest and cheapest enjoyments in life’ - we now know that is not true. For me I dream of a day when tobacco is no longer available because we recognise it kills. Now that would be an enjoyable thought!