Saturday, February 16, 2008

'if that king was to wake ...'

My dreams are trying to drive me crazy.

 

About a year ago, I found myself in the kitchen of St. Andrews on the Roundabout in  Rotorua, New Zealand. I realized I was dreaming because my sister-in-law, who has never been to New Zealand, much less to that church, was with me. Several months ago, I dreamed that I was back at my much-reviled former employer, talking with the editor in chief about why I kept having this nightmare that I was back there again.

 

And last night, it happened again ― almost. I realized I was dreaming, but my dream kept trying to convince that I wasn’t.

 

At the point where I first realized I was dreaming, I was getting ready for a formal ceremony of some sort, when I discovered I had failed to pack the requisite dress shoes, and in fact had nothing to go with my tux but a pair of red sneakers.

 

“This is a dream,” I told myself. “And when you’re in lucid dreaming, you can always change things.”

 

That’s what I’ve always read, but it isn’t true. I put those sneakers into a bag, and carefully visualized the black shoes I would need to complete my tux. I pictured the shoes, imagined how they felt, and even remembered where in the house I keep them, and then drew out the same red sneakers.

 

So much for lucid dreaming.

 

I suspect I was too embarrassed to go to the ceremony without the right clothes, because instead of attending, I spent the rest of the evening walking around the city, seeing various people about town, until I finally found the opportunity to discuss my predicament with someone sympathetic.

 

“I think I’m dreaming,” I told him. “I’m wearing my shirt right now, but a while ago, it wasn’t there, and before that, it was.”

 

“You could have just taken it off and put it back on again, and forgotten you had done it,” he said. I agreed that he had a point. “When you’re dreaming, there’s usually all sorts of weird things that happen to you. Have you noticed anything strange?”

 

Now I should point out that so far in this dream, in addition to packing those red sneakers, I was staying a hotel suite with Dame Maggie Smith and Paul Scofield. I had seen Myron and Jessica, two of my friends who are headed toward divorce, wandering about town; she was a street mime, and every time Myron went to talk with her, she turned away and ignored him. In addition to all that, sympathetic ear I had found was Dennis Quaid’s, on Church Street in downtown Nova Bastille.

 

“No,” I said. “I haven’t.”

 

“Well,” he said. “What about the world around you?”

 

Suddenly, that was it. The world around me disintegrated into streams of sand blown in the wind, and I shouted with joy, “I knew it! I knew I was dreaming!”

 

And completely expectedly, I woke up in a room with a white linoleum floor. I pushed the motorcycle Dennis Quaid had been riding in my motorcycle over to the fellow who owned it ― clearly, its presence in the room where I had fallen asleep had prompted its presence in the dream ― and made some sort of quip about my dreamself owing his dreamself rental money for its use.

 

The owner, incidentally, was the worship leader at the church we attend. I noticed for the first time that he had two fingernails on his right pinky, one at the fingertip, and one farther down, just at the first joint.

 

And that’s when Natasha woke me up, for real.

 

As I rehearsed the dream in my mind so that it wouldn’t fade from memory once I got going with the day, I recalled what my friend Myron had said back when I told him about my dream discussion with my editor in chief about the recurring nightmare: “You must have a really well integrated mind to be able to do that.”

 

This makes the third time I’ve been able to carry on a discussion between my conscious and unconscious minds during a dream. The first time, it was a simple acknowledgment that I was dreaming; the second, it was something more like oneironmancy, as my unconscious mind explained why I kept having the same nightmare over and over. (I wish I could remember what the editor in chief had said, because it sure made sense at the time.)

 

And now, on the third time around, my dream is actively trying to thwart my efforts to realize what’s going on. It’s intriguing. I hope next time I get a little further in and see what I can find.

1 comment:

Brucker said...

Lucid dreams are a funny thing, because sometimes you can control them, and other times you can't. I always find it rather unsettling to realize I'm in a dream, but unable to control what's going on in any appreciable manner.

Another bizarre thing to happen to me a few times in dreams is to have a lucid dream in which I realize that I'm dreaming because something is unusual, but when I wake up, I realize that it wasn't unusual. Example: I once had a dream in which I was having a conversation with a cousin of mine, and I suddenly realized that I was dreaming because she had died at age four of a brain tumor. In reality, my cousin is still alive.