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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.