I had a dream when I was about seventeen in which the most beautiful music was playing. It was the song of the morning and I could not recall it when I woke up but I knew that song connected me to everything that lived. In the dream I was in my favourite place in the world, the river Tamar looking out towards Landulph and into Cornwall. The sun was bright, the Tamar Bridge and Brunel railway bridge were there, sturdy and strong.
But as in all the best and most memorable dreams, the landscape was both familiar and unfamiliar. The bridges stretched for miles and miles into the distance, and a train was standing still, not on the track, just on the hillside, packed with brightly dressed animals all wishing me well on my long journey ahead.
I was travelling far away, deep into the heart of the countryside, a long way from everyone and everywhere. I knew in my dream I was walking from one reality to another, one state to another and that I had to say goodbye to everything I thought I knew in order to make that journey. I was not afraid or excited, just peaceful. With the song in my head, the good wishes of the strange animals in my heart and the beauty of where I was going to guide me I was ready for what was to come. At the time of the dream, I believed I had glimpsed heaven.
That dream is what Wordsworth called a ‘mansion of the mind’ in his sublime poem Tintern Abbey. Mansions of the mind are interior places to visit when they are needed. They are to be recalled in loving detail and held in reverence. I visit my dream when I need to, when I am thinking about bridges, about transcendence, about the unfamiliar and the familiar. Once again today I tried to hear that music but it is gone, only the trace memory of it remains. And oddly, that is enough.