6.07.2006

Loose id dreaming

I've always had extremely complex, wild, epic dreams, and ever since I first read about lucid dreaming in the early '90s, I've been trying to control them. I've had limited success. Probably once a year I've managed to fly, sometimes only a few feet, sometimes up to a roof, and one memorable time I was on my bike flying around my parents' neighborhood in Indiana.

I spent the past five days in South Carolina at a family reunion on the coast. Early Sunday morning, with the sea wind bending palm spikes to scratch against my window, I had the most extraordinary dream, even by my standards. At some point I recognized the dreamworld and remembered that I could fly if I wanted to. I gathered my strength and concentrated and -- whoooom! -- flew straight up into the atmosphere! Where I spotted a menacing UFO directly above me, which in turn spotted me and swerved down to investigate.

(Flying saucers have been appearing in my dreams since I was a small child. I've seen them take my father away, I've watched them destroy San Francisco.)

It nosed at me, like a dog. Its surface looked like the graphics in the movie Tron, unfinished, conceptual. I had a weapon on me, some kind of rifle, and I dearly wanted to blow the damned thing away, but something told me there would be trouble if I did that, so I decided to escape. Remembering I was dreaming, I ... went to sleep! And there I was on my bed asleep, the UFO gone. So I got up and opened my door and found I was still dreaming and walked into my dream city.

My dream city is always the same city, a hodge-podge alien urban psychedelic weirdworld where I often travel by running along the rooftops. This time I found Tracy in a park and excitedly reported my new power. She asked me to show her, and I went flying straight up again -- careful to not go high enough to attract UFO attention. When I came down she asked me to teach her. We tried, and she levitated about three feet off the ground. A good start. Then we went shopping. We went to a rope store, one of those big, fancy, elaborate places where you buy ropes, you see. The shopkeeper was measuring out our rope, and from sheer exuberance I took one end of it, rose to the top of a tall spruce tree in his atrium, and tied it to the highest branch. When I came down the two of them were clapping.

Then Tracy and I went to a show at a vast theater complex. And then dinner. At dinner, she pulled out some magazines she had published, and she was on the cover of each of them. Except the women were different "hers," if you know what I mean. They each were her, but they were each a different version of her, and they all looked totally different. While I was oohing and ahhing, a fellow at a nearby table drifted over. Said he couldn't help but overhear, said he was a bigwig, and offered to be her agent. I saw that somehow he had managed to be standing over me, the crotch of his jeans a few inches over my head, in the posture of a dog peeing to mark his territory. Remembering I was dreaming, I bolted up and said to him: "Are you really trying to pee on me, or are you a symbol in a position to pee on me figuratively?" His smile fell, and he backed off a few steps. But then I felt mean, and out of guilt we listened as he continued his pitch. All we had to do, he said, was watch his multimedia presentation and then decide if we wanted him to be her agent or not. So we went into a booth and watched a screen.

The screen soon filled with extraordinary imagery, marvelous landscapes, mythic personas, a constantly changing spectacle that was truly impressive. But I started thinking, hey, this is my dream. Not his. I should control the imagery. So I pointed my finger and tried to burn a hole in the picture. Sure enough, like a film getting stuck and melting from the heat of the projector lamp, a small hole appeared in the fantastic show. I started making gestures, such as shamans are said to make in order to manipulate reality, and gradually I was able to tear the imagery apart, and even to crush some of the characters onscreen by squeezing my hands. Their heads popped, bloodily. It was immensely satisfying. Then we were back in the booth and we got up and left the building.

"Oh, but look at him now!" said Tracy when we got outside.

There was the guy who would be her agent, except now he was older and decrepit, shuffling along the street in ragged clothes, panhandling.

"Ah, jeez," I said. I felt terrible. "Did I do that to him? Okay, let's give him some money." I walked over to an ATM machine, inserted my card, and the screen showed me asleep again, as I had been when I escaped the UFO.

Only it really was me asleep on the bed this time, and I shot up, wide awake, my brain buzzing from dream chemicals, the insects outside screeching about their own dreams, it seemed to me. I grabbed my video recorder and began recording myself recounting the dream in as much detail as I could remember. In the middle of it, the video camera's battery died -- see? the machines don't want me to remember a thing like that -- so I quickly plugged it into the wall and resumed. When I was done, I walked down to the beach. It was 4:15 am.

I sat there looking at the ocean, feeling that I had crossed some kind of threshold, achieved a new measure of control in my dreams, and maybe even in my life. I felt more confident and joyous than I have in some time, and yet at peace, watching shiplights glimmer on the dim horizon. As in a video game, I had reached a new level, but I also knew that there were many other levels above that, and that the dreamworld is under some kind of military dictatorship, via those damned machines that terrorize from the sky.

I was also troubled to discover that the rule of morality of action, the karma law, is also in effect there. I had hurt that man, that character, whose job it seems was to show us his presentation, and when I destroyed it, I ruined his purpose, put him out on the street. I fired him. And then saw and felt the consequences of my actions. Are characters in dreams separate entities who share that reality? Are they forms melded in my subconscious? Does it matter?

I don't now how long I sat there in the sand. I felt extraordinarily alive and snug within my own purpose, my own expanding abilities in this short time on earth (I recently turned 40). I look forward to the new levels. I dare not hope that the abilities, as the shamans claim, eventually cross into the physical realm, but if they do, I guess what I'm doing now is practicing.

9 comments:

semanticist said...

Wow. Your depictions of your dreams are better than my dreams. Damn you.

On a related note, I've had similar instances of consciousness within a dream, but not to the level of being able to control events. More like, I can control my attitudes about the events of the dream.

For example (and analysts, have fun with this), I still often have the common dreams in which I show up at HS or college on the last day of the semester, finding I have a final to take in a class I didn't realize I was enrolled for. But I can control my reaction in the dream, so that instead of worrying, I laugh it off, telling myself it's only a dream. But I'm still moving with the same dream "universe" in which I have that final to take.

Also, I like that melting film frame image. I gotta try that.

Grendel said...

99% of my dreams are not lucid. And I've had that dream of having to take a final for something I haven't studied for. Horrible -- I could not laugh it off.

Most of my dreams are me looking for certain people or dogs and not being able to find them. Typical quest plot. I'm always on a futile search for someone in my dreams. Maybe one of the next levels is being able to concentrate on imagining their location and flying there.

the plunge said...

Inspired writing, inspired dreaming. Just another reminder that 'awake' is a poetically subjective term. Lucid dreaming is kind of like an electromental glitch--a circuit gets closed that's not supposed to, and suddenly your conscious and unconcsious minds are connected into a kind of high-voltage supermind.

Wish we had a switch for that. Mine would be on a lot. Hmm...maybe in the future they'll have that. Should we apply for the patent?

Grendel said...

Thanks, plungey. I hadn't thought of it as a switch that gets accidentally turned on, but that feels about right. I have read about various ways of stimulating lucid dreaming. One is to regularly ask yourself, while awake, "Am I dreaming?" Then try to do something to affect the environment -- such as try and read a newspaper, or flip a light switch. If the paper is unreadable, or the light doesn't go on or off, you're probably dreaming. Getting in that habit means you might start to do that while dreaming, and then you'll know.

I used to keep a dream journal, then I stopped for some reason. Should start again. I love the ones that are obviously symbolic. Here's a good one from that era:

"Dreamt I was in a library where I met a sexy older lady wearing sunglasses who invited me to her house. I accepted, and we went to the house together. As we entered the house, a large mansion, she pointed to a room off to the side and directed me to wait for her in there, which I did. I waited a long time. Began to feel trapped and uncomfortable, attempted to leave but the door was locked. The room was filled with bookshelves and a large mahogany desk with a leather chair. That is all. I heard a knock at the door, and as the person came in, I finally snatched from the desk drawer the only conceivable weapon I could find: a sharpened yellow pencil. Hiding it behind my back, I turned to face her. But it wasn't her. It was a young man who approached me, saying that the woman was a vampire and I was to be her victim. He came closer, explaining that she had instructed him to vampirize me and if I would only cooperate, I could join them and live forever in the house as one of the undead. When he was close enough, bending near to bite my neck, I struck my blow, stabbing him through the heart with the pencil. I escaped through the door and out of the house, leaving him to die on the floor.

"I told this dream to my friend David Richardson, who immediately interpreted it as symbolic of my resistance to studying (library) Business (vampirism, temptation) in favor of English (writing, the pencil). I literally attacked a symbol of what I didn't want to do with a symbol of what I did want to do. This was in college, and shortly thereafter I changed my major from Business to English."

Trevor Jackson said...

A dream journal is a good idea. Especially since you have such cool ones and a good memory for them.

In my version of your second dream, I'm certain that my pencil would have snapped in half because the vampire had some sort of flask in his breastpocket, protecting his heart. I would have started making monthly payments in blood on a pencil sharpener that I never used.

bihari said...

Oh! Oh! I can fly too, on a good night! Isn't it the best?

This is the only written description of a dream I've ever not only enjoyed, but devoured and identified with.

Grendel said...

Bihari, we'll have to have a Fly-Off to determine the Dream Reality Champion. How high have you gone?

charges said...

It's refreshing to know that dreams can still affect and change us. What most might pass off as 'just a dream' is probably the biggest peek into life's clock that we get.

Kick-ass dream. It would make an awesome story.

Grendel said...

Hey thanks, charges. I clicked through your name and just spent waaaaaaaaaaay too much time reading your own blog Rollertrain. Like, way too much time. I found it very stimulating.