Is Life a Torture Device? Another Recent Dream

“You get tragedy where the tree, instead of bending, breaks.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein

Earlier this year I had a dream (as in, while sleeping) in which there was a torture device created in which my feet were locked into ski-boots. The left boot was stationary, fastened to the floor, but the right one was fastened to a circular disc which could be turned.

The people operating this torture machine were able to incrementally rotate the disc one notch at a time, one centimeter at a time. At first the captive (me) did not mind. It would test my flexibility, but little more. As the foot was incrementally rotated it slowly became perpendicular to my other, and I began to realize that at a certain point my leg would snap.

Upon waking I thought about how many people live in work environments in which this incremental pressure is being placed on them. Verbally abusive managers who never show appreciation. Extra hours without rewards or even a thank you. Unrealistic expectations. (See: Paths of Glory)

Sometimes people snap. How, or why, this occurs is not entirely clear, but it happens.

The pressure may come from outside but is amplified within by various forces we often fail to comprehend, whether nature (DNA) or nurture (or lack thereof).

I’m retired, but in reflecting on the dream I wonder what various applications it may have. Life tests us in a variety of ways, and often the pressures go unnoticed because we’re distracted by other matters and because the pressure is being applied so incrementally. At some point, though, something gives, breaks.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Crack-Up” comes to mind.

Some of life’s “Aha!” moments might be revelations that occur after months or even years of setup. Sometimes they may even be orchestrated by forces beyond the veil, as in the life of Job.

M. Scott Peck’s book opens with this statement: Life is hard. To expect otherwise is a mistake. In whatever happens or fails to happen, the critical thing for each of us will be how we respond. As the Middle Eastern proverb goes, “The same sun that hardens clay melts wax.”

Just out of curiosity, what’s your take on that dream?

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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