Slip Slidin’ Away ~ a reflection on a long ago dream and a melancholy song
I’m not sure when I first heard this Paul Simon song, but it entered my unconscious and stayed there. I was probably about fourteen when the dream occurred. I’d already run away from school and was pretty troubled. The overall anxiety that I experienced daily had become such that the doctor had prescribed tranquillizers, which turned me into a zombie till I stopped taking them.
The dream had a luminous quality that is a recognised sign of a Great Dream, and the fact that I recall it so vividly thirty or so years later is another sign. In the dream, I could hear the song Slip Slidin’ Away being sung in the background though I never saw the singer. I just accepted the song. I was walking along holding the hand of a much bigger person; imagine being about three and walking with an adult and that’ll give you the scale. I couldn’t see the face of the person who held my hand, but we walked at a steady pace. Once in a while, I would let go of the hand and tell them I could manage by myself now and they would step a little aside. Then, of course, I discovered that it was as thought I were on a moving pavement, going against the direction and I’d try to run forwards, and after frantically trying to make progress, exhausted I’d fall to the ground and be swept away.
But at a certain point, I would be lifted up and set back on my feet, and my hand would be held, and progress would be made. We’d walk along quite normally; I had no sensation of the movement beneath me trying to slip slide me away.
I woke crying. I still find tears welling up remembering it. I still don’t understand that dream, even now.
I do believe though that for me, that figure was God. While I hold His hand, I move forward; it’s me that lets go, not Him. In the dream I remember wondering why I kept letting go. I still wonder why I do it. At a different level, the dream might mean that we are inter-dependant, that in cooperating with others we move forward and alone we can be swept away.
I don’t know, but the dream still remains. And the destination is no nearer.