More on the subject of dreams. I rarely have lucid dreams -- that is, dreams in which I become aware that I’m dreaming and then take control of the dream and shape it the way I want, like the director of a film. And even on the rare occasions that I realize I’m dreaming, I’m usually so sleepy and lethargic that I still just go along with the dream as it is, without trying to shape it.
But recently, while thinking about the connection between sleep, dreams and stories, it occurred to me that lucid dreaming represents a wonderful opportunity to practice my craft as a writer and storyteller even while I sleep. So I’ve been reading about lucid dreaming and trying some of the methods that are said to help one achieve it. For example, state checks -- where you get into the habit of asking yourself during the day, “Am I dreaming or is this real?”
The method seems to work. I’ve had some surprising lucid dreams lately. The other night I was dreaming about going with my family on a vacation to the States. It was a very vivid, realistic, detailed dream and I had no suspicion it wasn’t real … until I noticed we had somehow driven across the border without going through customs. In these post-911 times, that really stood out as odd. I began to suspect I was dreaming, but I still wasn’t sure. When we arrived at the lakeshore cabin where we were staying, I noticed more odd shifts in time and space, and finally I said to everyone I was with, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but we’re not really here. This is just a dream I’m having.” Even though I now knew they were fictional people, I still felt bad about telling them they weren’t real and ruining their vacation. So I made sure to add, “Look, I’m just a figment, too. A figment of my own imagination.”
They didn’t believe me. They asked me to prove this was a dream. So I made a drinking glass move across a table just by looking at it. They still didn’t believe me. They thought it was some kind of clever parlor trick.
At that point I remembered I was a writer and I thought, Hey, if you can move glasses, you can do anything. You can tell any story you want. But by then it was too late. I was already waking up, and the dream was fading away.
[Image from Tarkovsky's film Stalker; from the scene in which the little girl moves a glass across the table just by looking at it.]