Human dreams and their interpretations

The dialogue with Noureddine Mhakkak, Morrocan writer and poet, is a cultural journey into the worlds of Letters and the Arts. That is to say in the world of poetry, prose, cinema, painting, and photography on the one hand and in the world of current affairs too.

Noureddine Mhakkak (NM): According to Bernard Asleyr: “Don’t dream your life but live your dreams”. How does Julie Guégan live her life?

Julie Guégan (JG): When I was little, my mother often spoke to me about the sandman, this fabulous character who puts sand in our eyes to put us to sleep. And each time, this story intrigued me, not understanding the meaning. Now, looking back, I interpret this gesture as covering our reality with illusions. The illusion of being happy, of managing, of being important, of being free … And like everyone else, I have lived much of my life in semi-automatic mode, busy, often in a rush, running all the time, until I realized I could never get everything I dreamed of.

The post-industrial era does not seem ideal for making dreams come true. So I had to make choices, especially in my free time, which I spent looking for the means to live, “alive”. And not just for my own benefit. This desire came from my meetings and especially from the desire to help.

When I was 26, I arrived in Brussels from Paris with a cardboard suitcase (meaning ‘with almost nothing’, my Belgian roommate laughed) to work for the European Commission. I was eager to contribute and must say that I fell head over heels in love with the project and my colleagues, coming from all parts of Europe and the world. Everything fascinated me in this multicultural environment and from the first nights, I began to dream how I too could be of service. I really knew how lucky I was to be working for something bigger than myself.

This desire intensified in 2014 with the referendum on Brexit which was a great trauma for all Europeans but also somewhere the ideal storm, paving the way for a more ambitious Europe, which would be the protagonist of a major change of our lifestyles. So little by little, at my humble level, I tried to act in different ways. And as I have always rejected initiatives aimed at a form of discrimination, it is in terms of bottom-up engagement (note from bottom to top) that I have invested myself, and in particular the engagement of the most vulnerable, of those who are currently the furthest away from it. I developed this belief that the power for change is at the periphery. So I put my energy into it to develop our institutions. It’s part of my life and part of my dream. The other is occupied by my children and my pets, with whom I seek to make memories, and of course my friends, family, and some hobbies.

NM: According to Paulo Coelho: “There is only one thing that can make a dream impossible, and that is the fear of failing”, and according to him too:” It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting”. What do you think of this?

JG: I am a dreamer and above all, I have understood that imagination is even more important than knowledge. But I am not a utopian. To be successful, dreams must come with realism, and therefore a lot of work. I don’t believe in the simple life, but I don’t see it as difficult either. It’s about earning your dreams! I have big dreams. The solution I have found is to make peace with my arrogance and my madness, to seek the essential balances between my need to be far from the ground and at the same time well hung. You should know that the only thing that matters in our actions is the impact on society so I prepare myself every day to do better. I also tell myself that at worst, if I fail, I will have learned so much on my way that I will grow up and my children too. That’s why it’s pointless to hold back dreams. They will catch up with us the moment we finally let go and anyway they have so much to tell us about ourselves. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to be on the run, and while that involves a fair amount of “whatever the cost”, I know I have chosen to stay where the dream is possible. Where my heart began to beat faster. I’m not an asleep vendor, but if I can allow myself one piece of advice, it’s to stop looking for our dreams “elsewhere”, when they only have meaning “here”. I invite our readers to read or reread Paolo Coelho’s Alchemist to be convinced.

NM: According to Tony Hemery: “Let your dreams live; they open the way for you to what you are going to achieve”. What would you say about those words?

JG: I immediately think of the heroes of “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, of some of Weber’s books, and of films that navigate between reality and dreams, like those of Kubrik or the famous “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” by Michel Gondry, and I also have a desire to travel to the land of dreams…

As with Brexit, I rather feel an urgency to act. But we lost sight of the dream because we wanted to reinvent it every day. It is a bit the reason for our births, to want to start something with our existence, only, as René Char told us, we missed the will with the inheritance that we received and we made a lot of mistakes and fell into a lot of pitfalls. So we had the arrogance to think that we knew better than our ancestors what we needed. However, I do not want to give in to the ambient pessimism and I tell myself that we have simply removed the sand from our reality and undone the work of the sandman. I believe that this period of crisis opens the way for us to the promised lands. We still have to understand the signs. And therefore listen to them. Kierkegaard reminds us that the self is just that part that is becoming, so I don’t want to encourage anyone to put energy into the processes! It’s time to focus on the work. And neither is a new utopia we need, nor a band-aid, but something to fully commit to. And as Saint-Exupéry reminds us in “The Little Prince”, we can only see well with the heart, so let’s put all our hearts in it, even if it is the brain that is the seat of dreams.

Humanity is emerging in all of us and we are all better humans in the making. Post-homo sapiens, who know much better where the real dream is, the one who has the power to keep us “alive”. There is a new story that needs to be told to our children. After all, isn’t it love that makes mountains rise? So if the agenda is to grow wings, with our new reality of climate change, it’s going to take a lot, a lot of love, to fix the causes together rather than the symptoms.

NM: “Happiness is a child’s dream coming true in adulthood”, according to Sigmund Freud. What are the dreams of your childhood?

JG: I had a dream as a child, that the musical notes would organize themselves almost on their own to bring about harmony, which would be the common foundation of its values and principles. The sheet music would be the place of the dream which would give hope and which would detach us from our learned helplessness (as Martin Seligman tells us). And each of the notes on the score would remember that it was part of the same condition, quarter note, or sixteenth note, and would not be afraid of conflict at the source of harmony. To all, a clear role, the desire to do away with hypocrisy and limits, a real mastery of what they are or are not.

It’s because musical notes know they don’t work miracles on their own, that they embrace their inherent need for inclusion and collaboration. It is also this fact of contributing that makes them most happy. Yes, very different but useful musical notes.

Behind all this, the musician, in all humility, would present a work that would move, from the heart to the head and including the hands, all men on the planet. I share this vision, like many others around me, that there are so many beauties to be discovered in sharing, being together, and being open. And the adult that I am reassures the child in me: “If we have to start somewhere, then I am in the right place”.

The original article was published in French and in a shorter version on Al Bayane

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