The “Liver” of Dreams

By Balaji Prasad

“In the middle of the night,
I go walking in my sleep …."
~Billy Joel, The River of Dreams

There is a time to be awake, and a time to sleep. There is a time to beam the light when the sun shines, and a time to dream at night when the moon glows.

We live in two worlds. Literally. One is dark, and the other is bright. But dark is not always dark, and bright is not always bright. Sometimes, it can feel quite the opposite. Dream-time moves us to an unawareness of all things real, along with the sensations that accompany those things. Dreams waft us to things, some of which exist, some which may never exist, and some in the twilight zone that lie in the hazy shadows between the two.

Sometimes when things get tough, isn't it nice that we can make things disappear by simply closing our eyes, and letting everything real vanish, and descend into the netherworld of strange, mysterious and tantalizing creatures and creations? A respite before the next engagement with the light that could bring brightness – a brightness that can seem dark in spite of the ambient light around it all?

“To a river so deep"

The song, “The River of Dreams" is a wistful, soulful cry that touches some chords somewhere deep inside. As the “liver" of dreams wades through the river of dreams and searches for things that lie deep, in waters that stretch broader than what the eye can hold, some ideas may start to germinate somewhere deep inside. Some of these realizations take time because the river is deep and “the river is wide, and it's too hard to cross," as Billy Joel wails.

Time is important though. For, time is life. When we waste time, we waste life. Oh, what if I knew then what I know now! This could be a constant refrain for us, as we keep learning, and chiseling the misshapen marble that we hold in our grasp. If I know something today, and if I keep learning and growing, as many of us would like to think we do, then am I not going to know more tomorrow than I do today? In which case, would I not know then what I do not know now? And, might I then look back indulgently again, and make the same reflective statement: “I wish I knew then what I know now!"

The river is deep, indeed. And, if we think that where we stand is all there is, we would be mistaken. Deeply mistaken. We can never reach the depths of the mighty river that flows under our feet, flowing along almost callously unmindful of our presence. But we could bring ourselves to be more aware of its presence, if we were to close our eyes for a few, and feel the power of the unrelenting, throbbing torrent that is the essence of life. Then, maybe! Maybe. Maybe we would at least get a scent of what it really is. What matters. And, what doesn't.

“Something somebody stole"

When you realize what you once had, and that you don't have it anymore that is when you might, unfortunately, value that thing appropriately. That is how it seems to work. You get a sense for what something is, in the contrasting context of when that something isn't. When things are lost forever, this awakening to what once was doesn't help. Irreversible losses may help you value something that no longer is, but it holds nothing that can help us in future-time. Future-time matters because that is where our life stretches to, as we look forward from where we stand.

Fortunately, not everything goes away permanently. At some level, maybe nothing ever does. The star twinkles. It's there, and then it's not. However, it is always there, whether our eye meets it or not. So, when it comes back the next time, if you have learned from the previous time, maybe that will cause you to pay more attention. Maybe, you will respect it a bit more. And maybe, your life will be a little more enriched by the star that you see sometimes, and which you don't, sometimes, but which is always there in the distance, peering down at you eternally, even during your obliviousness of its presence.

Who stole your ability to feel the star's presence away from you? Who?

“The eyes of the blind"

Sight is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways; we see things that are there, and we see things that are not. Also, we don't see things that are there, because our eyes go only so far. Or, maybe it is the case that our eyes cast about too far and miss obvious things that are nearby. Maybe that is the problem! It is possible that our ability to see gets in the way of seeing. If you were to close your eyes for a minute, perhaps you would be able to see something else – something altogether different? And, maybe what seemed to be lost turns out not to be, but is, instead, very much within your grasp, and there just for the taking. So it is a “me", perhaps, that stole the thing, and which leaves a hole in me. And maybe it stole something of value from me, because it was a different “me", one that doesn't see things that an unseeing “me" might.

So, can I flip things around, and be a different “me", that doesn't see the things that the other me sees, and vice versa? Maybe things would come back then?

The river of dreams

Can we “unsee" when we have sight? Is this even possible? When we dream dreams, who really dreams? Is it me who dreams, or is it the people who came before and along with me who dream, and to whom I have unwittingly outsourced my ability to fabricate unique dreams? Have I become part of some nameless, faceless mainstream? Am I mindlessly floating along in a river of dreams in which I am just “carried along"? Can I “cross to the opposite shore", overcoming the incessant thrust of the current in the river which buffets me now here, then there? Can I be a “liver" of my own dreams? Can you?


Balaji Prasad is an IIT/IIM graduate, a published author, SAT/ACT Online and Offline Coach, interview, resume, and career coach at NewCranium. Contact: 704.746.9779 or