After the sun sets in a symphony of suffused pinks and golds, and laborers retire home after a long grueling day, and wives tentatively await the arrival of cantankerous, irascible husbands, and glittering blackness takes over the canvas of the sky – the world comes alive in its true essence.
This is the time when owls, night-guards and lovers reign. Under the camouflage of the brash, glittering night sky, the world of dreams and fantasies comes to life. Night, by the way, isn’t my codeword for child molesters, assassins and whores. You misunderstand me.
My allusion is to the metamorphosis the world undergoes, once it adorns its black cloak. This is the time when everything is possible – we can be whoever we want to be. We can do whatever we want to do. And after all the dreaming is over, after we wake and leave the world of madness and glory for the mundane day-lit grind, through the wreckage of our abandoned fancies, strolls the sweeper of dreams.
Just as we wake he comes to us, and sweeps up kingdoms and castles, and angels and fairies, mountains and oceans. The sweeper talks little, in his gruff monotone voice, and when he does speak it is mostly about the weather and the prospects, victories and defeats of certain people. He seems to despise everyone that is not him.
He sweeps up the lust and the love and the lovers, the ambitions and the greed, the hopes and the desires. One by one he sweeps them away; the infant that was wailing, the lover who was cheating, the friend who was drowning, the parent who was dying.
He will sweep it all – every single dream he considers superfluous. And then he will burn them all. Burn them to leave the stage fresh for our dreams tomorrow.
If ever you run into him, treat him well. Be polite to him. Ask him no questions for he never gives any answers. Applaud his victories, commiserate with him his losses, agree with him about the weather. Treat him with the respect he feels he is entitled to. For there are unfortunate souls he no longer visits, the sweeper of dreams, the arsonist of fantasies.
You must have seen them. They have mouths that twitch, and eyes that stare, and fingers that fidget, and they babble and they mewl and they whimper. Some of them walk through half deserted streets in ragged, grimy clothes, their belongings clutched tightly under their arms. Others are locked in cells, in places where they can no longer harm themselves or others. Do not mistake them to be mad. In fact, the loss of their sanity is the lesser of their problems. It is far worse than madness. They will tell you, if you ask them, they are the ones who wallow, each day in the wreckage of their dreams.
So fantasize as much as you want, until human voices wake you and force you to face the music. But don’t forget to offer thanks to the sweeper of dreams – for he gave you leave to feel liberated and unrestrained and euphoric for a few hours. Offer him thanks for if the sweeper of dreams leaves you, he will never come back.
Inspiration: Neil Gaiman