Sacred Slumberby Samora Chapman / 05.12.2013
I recently noticed the city sleepers and started photographing them all over Durban. Sprawled… bodies like forgotten shells, spirits floating somewhere above in the ether.
Sleep is sacred, reparative and life-giving. Every living organism goes through the cycle of wakefulness and sleep. Sleep regulates your hormones and strengthens your immune system. Spiritually it is a return to innocence, a transcendental activity whereby you leave your body behind and enter another, somewhat unknown dimension of energy, dreams and weightlessness – time travelling through experiences and places that defy science and rational.
Sleep can also be a nightmare. When I was a teenager I got a bad case insomnia, the awful disease whereby every waking moment is tainted by fear of darkness. I spent nights sweating and hallucinating, throwing back whiskey at 2am in an attempt to knock myself out or sneaking into my mom’s room to steal sleeping pills – anything to free myself from the shackles of the waking world and the voices in my head.
And what of dreams. Erotic and weird. Disturbing, horrific or beautiful… sometimes so real that they can drift into your consciousness for days after you’ve had them. Who can say they haven’t killed a man in a dream? Made love to a complete stranger? Or morphed into a winged beast and taken flight like a unicorn?
According to Freud, dreams are a way of fulfilling wishes, repressed desires and conflicts that are unsolvable in your conscious mind-state. Dream Interpretation goes all the way back to early history (Greek and Egyptian mythology) when priests and mystics were charged with the responsibility of interpreting the weird and wonderful visions.
In the end we’re all heading for the big sleep. It’s like gravity gradually sucks us toward the ground during the day, capsizing us and holding us tight for several hours until we have the strength to stand up again and carry on. Eventually, gravity will win… every one of us will get swallowed by the beautiful earth from whens we came. We will then get eaten by earthworms, absorbed by apple seeds and reborn as trees or beasts, continuing the great circle of life.
I wonder what the street sleepers dream about.
* Images © Samora Chapman