As much as I tried I could not finish the short story I was reading last night. Too tired. It was a beautiful story by Elizabeth Bowen, the magnificent Elizabeth Bowen who wrote Last September. And of course, Bowen's Court, long since knocked down.
The story opens with a woman driving along a country road on a summer's evening, the sun is setting and shadows are slowly covering the distant hills. And of course I was searching for clues and names and eventually placed her on a road coming down from the Galtee Mountains driving south towards Fermoy or maybe even Cork. But it was late, too late now and I fell asleep with the beautiful thought that I will continue reading in the morning.
Some time ago I went to this public lecture. Nowadays, public lectures have to have spectacular themes to pull a crowd, what with all the competition and the internet. This one was called: Learning in your sleep. Actually, it transpired that it's not strictly learning that takes place in our brain while we sleep but that our brain apparently stores and develops whatever we have been thinking about just before sleep. In smart science vocabulary, the offline consolidation of memory during sleep represents a principle of long-term memory formation.
So, we are thinking or reading about something just before sleep and if we are lucky, glimpses of it wander from the temporary storage area inside our brain (where, so it seems, most of what we remember gets lost) to the permanent storage space. And during this process the new stuff sticks onto old stuff and lost memories are rekindled and new memories are formed and so on. There is a lot of clever research done, incl. sniffing rose petals and lavender while memorising complicated rows of figures and shapes before going to sleep.
In my dream last night I was 30 again, driving our battered moke up and up the St. Louis Road and into the forest and then downhill with all the sharp bends towards the coast, past the police station, turning left towards the beach where I stopped the car underneath the large Takamaka trees.
I walked into the almost still surf, north-easterly monsoon, hardly any waves. I closed my eyes and pushed myself under water, resurfacing after a long slow dive. Floating with my face down I could see the sharp colours of coral and fish deep deep below me. And I was overwhelmed by the incredible feeling of being carried, supported on this thin line where ocean and sky meet. The sun was about to set. So close to the equator, it sinks at the count of ten. I turned around and watched the sky darken. The trees were full of birds.
I have had the most wonderful life, so far. I have even been to paradise.