In my dream I was climbing. And I was old. It's possible that the fact I was old may be more important than the fact I was climbing.
I was wearing an brown tweed coat - like old men do - and I had on my feet a pair of those slip-on leather shoes. My hair clung loose and receding to my head, now glossy white and whispy. My arms were reaching up in front of me, with spots, dots, lines, and wrinkles on the parts sneaking out from under my jacket. My watch hung loose on my wrist, where age and time had shrunk my skin. My knees creaked beneath my own weight, my arms barely held me for the next step. But I kept climbing. As tired as I was, I kept climbing.
I was climbing a ladder built into a tree. It was plank after plank of wood, nailed into the side of the ancient, knotty bark. The planks were old like me, worn and rotting, but still firmly nailed, and safe enough to bear my weight. They went high into the branches above my head, and I had no idea where they were leading, trapped within my younger self's mind, watching my older self's body. But regardless there was a thudding of excitement I could unequivocally feel in his ancient heart, and so together we clambered, towards the top.
The branches tapered out, and there it was. I knew immediately that it was what I had been searching for. Strung up in the tree was a leather armchair, one of those nice ones with the lever on the side that flicks out the footrest. It was strapped to the branches with all manner of planks, ropes, straps and cords. It sat, sturdy and waiting.
I climbed the last few rungs, then as I reached the top, sidled along the branches until I reached the chair. Falling back into it, I looked out in front of me. The tree was high on a hill, and the valley stretched far below, one side surrounded by ocean, the other by forest, all leading to the lights of the city far off in the distance. The birds in the branches above me chirped as the sun set in the background, setting the whole picture aglow. I pulled the lever, flicking my legs up as I heaved a sigh. Beside me was a desk made of a few planks of wood, also strapped to the tree, that swivelled so that it sat across my lap, and hanging down the side of the wooden panel was a satchel bag, filled with notebooks, pens, and a novel with my place marked by a scrap of paper towards the back of it. The old me pulled out the novel, and leaned back into the soft leather of the chair to read.
His eyes drifted from the page for a second, and he looked out over the horizon, tears falling from his eyes as he came to the realisation that he would die in this old tree, be it reading, or writing, today or tomorrow. It was coming soon, and although he was scared, he was also happy. Because this - this was perfect.
And then I woke up, and lay there, stunned by the beauty of it all.