Saturday, January 23, 2010

Looking for Adventure

Recently I've been having, with unusual frequency, dreams that share certain characteristics. Although not identical enough to accurately be called recurring dreams, they have been notably similar both in "plot" and overall theme, and that has made them memorable and thought-provoking.

They all involve rushing around, by motorcycle, by taxi, on foot, or all three. With a constant sense of urgency and dogged determination, I'm striving to accomplish something while overcoming irritatingly frequent obstacles. All of this harried and exasperating activity takes place in a sort of stylized version of familiar yet oddly changed places. Shibuya, Aoyama, Akasaka, and Yokohama--all places where I've lived, worked and played for many years--form a recognizable backdrop to all this frenzied activity, but they are all considerably different from reality...they all resemble something you might see in an adventure movie set in Asia in the '20s or '30s, dramatic in mood and stunning in detail, exoticized and romanticized into scenes from an Indy Jones or Charlie Chan movie. The Dragon Lady or Fu Manchu would fit right in.

They're not nightmares, but they're certainly not restful or calming dreams, either. Since I've been having these dreams four or five times per week for several weeks, I've been wondering what's been going on in my subconscious to produce them. My current theory is that I'm feeling a lack of adventure in my life lately, so I'm looking for it in Dreamland.

There's no denying that the days of flying bottles and breaking rattan in dockside bar contretemps are behind me. It has been well over 30 years since I was dancing in illegal after-hours clubs with a sentry/doorman whose warning sent us all scurrying back to our tables when the police approached (drinking was OK after the arbitrary--11 0'clock?--time, but dancing was not, for some reason).

Explaining to a very skeptical cop that I had missed the last train, was therefore attempting to borrow a boat to sail down the bay from Yokohama to Yokosuka, and that I'd be returning the boat the next morning before the owner even missed it...that's definitely another memory from the dim past that wouldn't bear repetition these days.

So is racing around the circle route on the Metropolitan Expressway, virtually deserted after 10 o'clock in those days. You had to be very good, and pretty much stay entirely off the brakes, to do it in under 16 minutes. That's not even remotely conceivable with the kind of use the expressway gets now.

Times have changed, and so have I, I guess. Car chases, knife fights, scuffles with thugs in dicey low dives, really wild parties...all of those and much more are pretty much things of the past. Fond memories, but few if any of them really suitable for repetition in my current circumstances.

So, I've been thinking, maybe I sort of miss adventure. Maybe life is feeling a little too tame to me lately. It has become a subject for reflection.

And I reflected upon it somewhat differently the other night. Riding the bike in a really strong and bitterly cold wind, I got a much stronger and longer adrenaline rush than I really needed, as fierce gusts continually threatened to push me out of my lane and into guardrails or other vehicles whose drivers were struggling, too.

An hour or so of thrills doesn't really qualify as an adventure, I suppose, but I admit that once I'd arrived and parked the bike, I--briefly--thought to myself, "be careful what you look for".

On the other hand, the dreams haven't stopped.

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