The Mountainside: a true story

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Many years ago, when I was still young and (more or less) innocent, there was a brief period in my life when I suffered from a recurring dream. I say “suffered” because although it wasn’t really a nightmare as such, it was nonetheless a little disturbing. In this dream I would find myself walking slowly along a narrow mountain path in some unidentified region of the world.

The mountainside was really quite steep, almost pyramidal, but the path itself was just about wide enough to walk comfortably along without suffering too tremendously from vertigo. As I made my way carefully along the path each night, with the mountain rising up steeply on my right side and dropping off sharply to my left, only one question burned in my mind: when would I finally reach the top?

I don’t know how often I had this dream, nor do I know how long it lasted each time, but I do know that it became a part of my life in that period. When I woke up in the morning, I would dwell on it for a while, always wondering when I would finally reach the top of the mountain, and then I would let it go and get back on with my life again.

One night, though, I awoke from the dream somewhat more brusquely than on other occasions and sat up in bed with the strange, almost incredulous realisation that I had finally found the answer. The path was not going up the mountainside at all, it was going around the mountainside. In my dream I was going round in circles and would never actually reach the top.

It was a life-changing epiphany for me. In that moment I was enlightened to the significance of the journey itself as opposed to the destination. My eyes were opened to the circular nature of existence. Imprinted concepts such as ambition and competition suddenly lost their time-honoured hold on me, fading to nothing in the brilliance of the sun rising gloriously over the horizon.

I have never had that dream again.

Your comments are always very welcome.


Author: Tony

Born and raised in Malaysia between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Educated at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, England. Living in the foothills of Mount Etna since 1982 and teaching English at Catania University since 1987.

12 thoughts on “The Mountainside: a true story”

  1. Very pleasant to read and very interesting to think it over!
    This story reminded me of a Nepalese “saying” I found in a book (fortunately I also found the English translation of the passage in the Internet):

    “The [old Nepalese] man picked up a small stick and drew a circle with it on the ground. Then, inside the circle he [drew]…a wheel with eight spokes [a mandala]….We believe that at the centre of the earth there is a tremendously high mountain, Sumeru,” he says. “Around Sumeru there are eight mountains and eight seas. This is the world for us…We ask who has learned the most, the one who has been to all eight mountains, or the one who has reached the summit of Sumeru?”

    Thanks 🙂


  2. Hi Tony,
    finally I read this interesting story.
    I think It has multiple meanings closely linked to the man existence and his living condition.
    It reminds me the tragicomedy “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett.
    The tragicomic theme is precisely the impatience waiting that man has for something that never happens, underestimating more important things that surrounding his every day life.


    1. I hadn’t thought of the parallel with “Waiting for Godot” in terms of meaning, Claudio, but I agree, that is very much how I interpreted the dream, too.
      Well written. Just a few small mistakes:
      […linked to man’s existence…] […it reminds me of the…] […the impatience of man waiting for…] […the more important things that surround his…]


  3. I have similar, recurrent dreams, but I am not able to find the exact meaning and, consequently, the solution as well as the disappearance. I find absurd obstacles on my way home. Probably, I must solve some of my issues for unravelling the mystery.
    P.S.: it become a part of my life, should be: it became a part of my life


    1. Could the obstacles, which are physical in your dream, actually be psychological in reality? In my case it was just a question of “mindset”. Interesting things dreams in any case!
      BTW, I think I would say, “…some of my issues in order to unravel the mystery.”

      P.S. Thanks for spotting the typo!


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