Pharaoh’s Dreams

Genesis 41 New International Version (NIV)
Pharaoh’s Dreams

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

“In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Dreaming – Our Very Private Worlds

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

Peter Sarstedt

I have a hunch that there are, for many of us, at least two worlds. There is the outer socially acceptable world, that conforms pretty much to the norm and there is our inner world, the world of dreams and maybe fantasies. In those dreams and that wistful, is a different being than we show to others. For that world is very private and we share it with few. Our pillow world can be markedly different from our day-to-day.

In that world we may hold, or partially hold, beliefs which we may never share with another being for fear of looking foolish. In that world there are no constraints and few boundaries, we may waft along the cusp of the dream. And only should we meet another dreamer do we feel enabled to put words to our very private worlds. For there is a recognition one dreamer to another which does not need spoken. Yet it is only with these that we give words to our private worlds.

In those private worlds there can be a richness beyond and they can indeed be troubling too. For away from the social world we assemble for the benefit of others, is something more akin to our nature, a nature we dress anew each day. And for some the reverie of dreams is a place of beauty and retreat. We can dream, wake up and go to the loo and then start the dream again when we return to bed. “Now, where was I?” Where we go to in our dreams is our little secret and it often has a yearning and escape to it.

That nebulous quality of the dreaming, is soft and nascent, it can be stark and nightmarish. And if we are skilled in the art we may, in the dream, know that we are dreaming, we are awake in our dreams. We are less awake during the day, because the covering of the socially acceptable lays heavy upon us.

Our dreams may contain the unrequited, the yearnings of our Soul and they can be a whole lot earthier than that, the yearnings of our body. But in the dream so much more is connected, and the order needs not a spreadsheet or a map. And maybe we meet the dream-walkers there. We may encounter the loved-ones no longer with us, we may meet our terrors. The dream world is less tractable to control and that for some is scary. But the key to dreaming is relaxation into the dream and not trying to force it in any direction. Simply dream and let it coalesce and evolve. Dreaming is dreaming.

Our dreams can show us a little of what our Soul seeks.

I have a hunch that there are, for many of us, at least two worlds.

Can You Hear the Dream-walkers?

Soft, beyond the bastions of your reason; gentle, past the fortifications of justify; persistent, past any dawn-dew, they walk in their moccasins. And thus, they whisper, sometimes in vain. With each feather-dream they caress the concrete, the hard and the rigid, with a downy-feather-pillow they seek your ear, your heart. But most of all they call, they call sea-shell-sea and they yearn for you to change. Sad they are, the dream-walkers, persistent though. But that melancholy, it entreats, it cajoles, and it asks the question why.

And when dawn has come again, forget. Forget the dream that had you stark and clear, wipe away the sleep and return to the just, justifications, as hollow as they are. Stave off the dream-walkers, light those fires, keep the untimely sprites of conscience at bay. We would not wish a tendril of heart, of feeling, to pierce this mind.

But who is kidding who?

What artifice, which cunning plan, might keep out the dream-walkers? Those which haunt or guide. So easy to mix-up, these two.

No matter what you do, the dream-walkers they walk, and when they visited have, the dream has whispered unto you.

What does it whisper?

That cusp of dream, so close.

Can you hear them calling, the dream-walkers?

What do they say?

And tonight, just like any other night, the dream-walkers may visit you. And would you make them welcome or bid begone? That damn bloody spot may be difficult to remove, and have it pointed at, but the dream-walkers know spoor on the trail.

What will the dream-walkers whisper to you, this night?

Will you hear their call?

What is Significant?

I guess what we deem to be significant is context dependent and it is also time varying. Something which we initially think to be insignificant can like a seed, grow into to something much more significant. Significance can also be spatial, in that what is locally significant may or may not have a wider significance. And we may ignore the insignificant at our peril.

What is insignificant to me might be significant to you and vice versa. Significance can be in the eye of the beholder or beholders. In the grand scheme of things, I am just another NHS statistic but locally what transpires is to the wife and I, in terms of the big C, significant.

People of vision have often noted that the seemingly small can have a wide-ranging effect. If you lack the vision you cannot see this or maybe you don’t want to. The small maybe just detail to some, but there is a saying about the devil and the detail. Is the microcosm the progenitor of the macrocosm or merely its fractal?

If your context is self-centred it is unlikely that you will deem things that do not impinge on you directly as being significant. If you are more holistic you will think of interconnectivity. What goes on in my tiny corner of the universe may via the butterfly effect, touch your world. I cannot know what goes on outside the confines of my world, it lies beyond my horizon. But stuff from out there does impact in here. I read the news and the economy as a whole does touch.

Once can never know how significant any act might be with certainty. I can guess that some of my actions have had a wider significance, but very few have told me anything, so it would just be a guess. A whole bunch of stuff might be going on “out there” which I have been causal of. There is no feedback mechanism, so I cannot know.

Hmnn, significance is a strange beast…

When does something become significant and in what context(s)? And who decides?


Ways of Thinking – Joined Up Thinking

How flexible are you in your thinking?

I found this image above and although it is illustrative it doesn’t encompass much flexibility in approach. So far today I have hinted at pirate-think and the two sides of Walter White. I don’t know what others think of Walter, maybe he is a baddy, maybe he is a goody. It depends upon where you are coming from and which lenses you have in your eyes. There is a line in T-shirts which has a message; “Never underestimate an old guy with a chemistry degree”, so maybe Walter speaks to this sub-set of the population. Perhaps a little punk-rock spirit is reborn if only in mild gesture. I suspect that some find Walter’s “edge” threatening. After all he is a murderer and a meth-cook.

Now I’ll posit something here, it is to do with lack of joined-up thinking. I suspect that people forget the entirety of their prior knowledge in the heat of the moment. Even if we know a fair deal about a person, we can simply not take that into consideration. If, for example, we have previously found someone to be of sound judgement, the moment that judgement is contrary to what we want to do, we forget this. Why? Because it pisses us off slightly. That person becomes the enemy. If they are not aligned, then they are now wrong and very wrong indeed. Our thinking is not joined up with our knowledge. All we can see is what we want, and nothing is going to get in our way. This selective memory is a part of a wider selective perception.

To refer to the above, it is a bit silly to feel threatened by a character in a fictional TV series. We can forget whilst watching it, that it is TV; not joined up. A lot of people are scared about chemistry, labs and explosions and now we have Novichoks to worry about. Someone like Walter could probably knock up a batch of these. Anything which is unknown to us is scary. I have “played” with arsine in the past and that is some serious toxic shit. It is not so scary as a concept to me as it would be to the majority of the population. Hell, they even let me help plumb in gas lines with this, in central Manchester. None of us doing that had any health and safety qualifications, we were just a bunch of young post docs and students, let loose with cylinders of toxic gas. A simple way to keep your average chemist happy is to give them a bonfire, a can of petrol, a water hose and a box of matches; hours of fun. I can remember a number of times when pyro-Alan has freaked people out, but I have been in perfect control of what I have been doing. Because it was unknown to them, they were scared. When I lived in Brixton, we had a few bonfires, all the people in the other flats relaxed after the first one, and we had the odd fire “party” or two after that. Fear of the unknown clouds our judgement. If you knew about pyros and chemists, you could use joined up thinking to get an overview of sorts.

So very often our joined-up thinking fails, we may not even attempt it. All we can see is local to the situation and now, we can forget all of our prior experience. Our thinking can become very selective indeed and once this has set-in we can end far up shit creek without a paddle in a barbed wire canoe.

Having cued this up:

Has my thinking ever failed to be joined-up?

Did this cause problems?

Has my selective memory and selective perception ever caused me to grab the wrong end of the stick and hang grimly on to it as if my life depended upon it?

Could I benefit from a little more flexibility in thought?

That Which Strikes a Chord?

In a previous post I suggested that it might be worthwhile to think about that which you empathise with. So here are some of mine:

My physical plane life circumstances; a high school chemistry teacher, start-up founder, with cancer and an entrepreneurial streak. So this is “Body”.

These next few are Mind

And this is Spirit:

A Face from the Ancient Gallery

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall

The Doors

Identity is a weird thing. We have identity checks, we have passports, drivers’ licences and there is even a TV advert banging on about our data-self. I have had my criminal records checked a few times as a part of safeguarding. If we want a credit card we can check up our credit rating before we apply, because each refusal downgrades our rating. I have medical records, a tiny fraction of which I have access to. There is a whole bunch of stuff stored about us on servers all over the planet which, by the way, are eating up vast amounts of energy both to run and cool. There are these little snippets stored about us, out of which some identity is made-up.

I have joked before that I am the pre-cursor to a news item. I have the much-vaunted life circumstances of those who go on to do very unpleasant things. Maybe one day you will see a report about me, “He was a bit of a loner, kept himself to himself. There was something odd about him. He was not popular in the community. And, he had this really weird blog. A bit of a nutter really. I am not surprised.”

The thing is not only do we create our own identity, but others do it too. I have just identified myself with a stereotype. This is something which to an extent we all do. And, we stereotype others, there is no need for us to take a face from the ancient gallery, people select them for us. If enough people select the same face, the same mask, then that is how we are seen by others. We can become type-cast by other people and ourselves. The chance of us getting a role as an action hero are reduced, that is unless we are type-cast as such.

Having cued this up:

Do I stereotype and type-cast others?

If so, do they do it to me?

Have I become a stereotype, if only by accident and not by intention?