Sunday, April 22, 2012

Greyhound Across the Wasteland -Dreaming

I tend to dream epic, multi-part dreams. I dream in both color and black and white. My dreams also tend to be cinematic, like I'm watching a movie, but they also have a literary element. I remember one dream that had a very nice segue from the live-action story to the printed page at the end. I was watching the final scenes, the two main characters (Sherlock  Holmes and Watson) became black silhouettes on the page, then I was reading the last couple of sentences. Then, "The End" and I woke up. Other times the dream switches back and forth, like I'm reading a novel and seeing the scenes acted out. Much like when I read awake, but more actually visual. Of course, I am a constant and omnivorous reader, as well as loving movies and the mechanics of the art. So it all enters in, no doubt.

For a very long time I've marveled at dreams and all they entail. My own curiosity gets the better of me. I've been keeping a dream journal off and on for awhile. Most mornings I get up and barely remember what I dreamed. Some are so interesting that I get up at 2 a.m. or whatever and write them down.

A couple of nights ago I was dreaming a period piece. It was all in black and white, and at one point I even knew the date. April 14, 1943. (I Googled the date later. It means nothing personally to me. It was in the middle of World War II. In history the Allies were about to attack Tunis. That had nothing to do with the dream.) 
Actually, I don't remember the subject matter of the dream, only that date. One other thing struck me, though. I was aware I was dreaming. Even though I drifted out of it now and again, even a restroom break here and there, I still was able to continue the same dream. Much of the time I was aware that I was in bed next to Cat. Still the dream was going on. It was like having an old movie on the t.v. while drifting in and out of sleep. Interesting. All in black and white, period clothing, all that. I've made attempts at lucid dreaming, but this was as close as I've ever gotten.

Another time, after watching a foreign movie in Italian (I think), I found myself dreaming with English subtitles. A bit bizarre, really. 

I've been interested for awhile in the internal structure of dreams. They have their own logic. I observed awhile back that they also often come with their own back story. There are layers there. I dream about a dog, but also it has a history with me. I "remember" buying the dog, house training it, sleepless nights when it was a lonely puppy, and so on. It all makes so much sense in the moment. However, on waking, I realize I never had a dog like this. 

I just realized this morning how the "back story" effect enters into another part of dreaming I often notice. Many times I wake from one of those epic dreams "knowing" that this was only the most recent of a series of dreams on the same subject. At the same time, I realize I previously had no memory or knowledge of this supposed series of dreams. On thinking about this morning's dream I realized that the "series" feeling comes from that very same "back story" nature. Today's dream includes the back story of previous happenings, so it "feels" like it has happened several times. 

The time dilation effect makes it even more interesting. Sleep research has told us that, in real time, our dreams only take a split second before waking. Yet, subjectively, the dream seems to consume hours or even days of time. That is awesome enough, but if you factor in the "back story" effect I was talking about, then it is not only the dream story that is happening in that instant of time, but also all of that "back story". 

I'm sure there is some physical, chemical, or psychological cause for all of this. Perhaps, sometimes, we make several tiny "false starts" at waking.  Each one of these having an element of the dream that replays again the next interval. Spikes of almost wakefulness like the teeth on a hand saw. So, there really was a series of dreams, but all in the same few moments. That's one theory I've come up with anyway.

I've also had flash daydreams at times. What's odd is that I have no memory of what they were about. I blank out for a split second (admittedly when bored at work or something) and go somewhere and experience something. I come back to the present with no memory of where I've been, other than the distinct feeling that I was in a different landscape, in another life that has no relationship to this one. I used to refer to it as having "someone else's deja vu". That literally describes it. 

I've had friends tell me that I was having flash memories of other lifetimes. I can't discount it, but I wish I could remember the experience.

This morning's dream? I've titled it "Greyhound Across the Wasteland". There is no explanation for it. The premise seemed to be that some job I was doing required me to travel by bus to other cities. Invariably each of these trips encountered some sort of "adventure". Something along the lines of zombies, dinosaurs, or crazies. Think of taking a Greyhound across the landscapes of "Mad Max", "Resident Evil',  or Stephen King's "Wasteland". At any rate, each of these trips runs into trouble and I am one of several survivors. I keep needing to take the trips, each time with different people. So, the survivors become an extended family of sorts. 
All of these previous trips made up the aforementioned "back story".

No one, other than the survivors, seems to know that any of this has been happening. In the story of the final dream I am making yet another trip with a bit of foreboding. One of the other male passengers is one of my fellow survivors from a previous trip. We overhear one of the many first time passengers complaining that the trip will probably be boring. I look at my friend and we are both amused by this. As we travel we take a rest stop at some bus stop that is, I suppose, near the border of the wasteland. As we pull up we see other buses parked, some in very poor repair or wrecked. When we go inside, we find other passengers assembled, including a few others of our fellow survivors. One is a woman I had apparently become close to, and hadn't seen in some time. (No, not Alice.) We embrace and stand together watching the entertainment, or whatever else is happening in the room. That is the end of what I remember about the dream.

Where do you go in your dreams?

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