Dream Interlude

It came back to haunt me as I was lying in bed one recent night, the only sound in this so quiet place my wife’s gentle breathing next to me as she drifted off. That place!

I remembered a dream, something which I’m very rarely privileged to do; or was it a set, a suite, a collection of recurrences with variations? It was so vivid that it made the “real” world seem pale and ghostly next to it. I know that I’m not the first person to think, or write, about the next, eternal world after death being that much more substantial than this one. C.S. Lewis’s short novel, The Great Divorce, is all about such a heaven, and a hell which hardly exists at all, while earth is somewhere between these two extremes. A busload of hellions are taken to heaven to see if any of them might solidify enough to survive that crashingly real place’s perfections. Not that Lewis is suggesting that he believes in this possibility; but the What If? of the novelist can go anywhere, after all. And does.

My dream’s setting was, no surprise perhaps, Svaneti; but the one after this one in which I live, of which this one is, yes, just a shadow. That next one had a view of Mt. Ushba so thunderingly THERE that you couldn’t ignore it. You came upon it from a number of different angles, and from each its profile was different enough to make you wonder whether you were seeing the same mountain after all. This mountain was ravishingly beautiful, hugely severe, both overwhelmingly masculine and feminine at the same time, dominating the surrounding landscape like an emperor and empress among peaks, but not taking away from the others’ grandeur, or from the valleys’, either.

There was a village, too, complete with huge stone watchtowers of course, knowing where we were. But a perfect place. You could walk to it with some strenuous activity, enough to make your legs ache but in a pleasant way. There was no garbage anywhere, just life, rock, soil, green and flowers, trees, slate houses and their inhabitants always welcoming. No failing electricity or struggle with winter’s frozen water pipes, although the seasons remained distinct. There is no place quite like it on earth.

The strange thing was that I had to rack my brain to think, as I lay there: Am I remembering real places from my life so far? Do that Ushba and that village really exist? Are they syntheses of places I have seen, or something only far beyond any of them? And the other miraculous thing, which made me glad, was that having seen such magnificences, instead of their spoiling my comparatively drab (it must be said) reality, they somehow lifted it, too, up into glory. If my life is only their shadow, it also contains enough of them to be wonderful on its own. They work backwards, to infuse everything with their splendor.

I debated whether to include a photograph to accompany this article, which is more about my worldview’s next life than this short existence. And decided in the end that yes, if my current life’s landscapes have indeed been enriched by their successors, then one of them (they being all I have for now) will do to illustrate what I am trying desperately to convey.

Tony Hanmer has lived in Georgia since 1999, in Svaneti since 2007, and been a weekly writer for GT since early 2011. He runs the “Svaneti Renaissance” Facebook group, now with over 1350 members, at www.facebook.com/groups/SvanetiRenaissance/

He and his wife also run their own guest house in Etseri:


Tony Hanmer

18 May 2017 18:37