A Dreaming of Beyond
I am not sure when it started for me, or perhaps it was just I became more aware of the phenomenon. I had begun to travel in my nightly dreams. My father, a phycologist, told me, “Emma, you have always possessed an extremely fertile imagination, and you recently suffered a couple of quite traumatic experiences.”
I always hated when dear old papa attempted to psychoanalyze me as if a mere male could ever fully understand the totality of femaleness. I was aged sixteen and just starting to come to terms with how intensely sexual I was beginning to feel in myself, especially how intensely erotically I was beginning to think about my French teacher Ms. Montague.
Was she responsible for inducing my newfound travels/travails? Vivid and intense dreams are not the sole prerogative of sexually awakening and confused and overly intelligent young women. Though I knew I fitted the caricature exactly on all three of these pointers. The traumatic experiences “Kevin,” my dear old pops, was referring to were our moving home, which for me meant switching schools in the lead up to my Junior Certificate exams, my oldest sister and best friend, Carrie, getting married to her pig of a boyfriend and moving away. And lastly, even though these events were not in that particular order of importance, the long drawn out break up of my biological parent's relationship.
But tell me, dear reader, as a sixteen-year-old bi-curious and intelligent female, are there any experiences that are not traumatic? Now pops, stuff that in your phycologists pipe and smoke it. Not that Kevin ever smoked, “a disgusting habit he would often proclaim with a look of utter distaste on his holier than thou face.” He was wont to lecture me the evils of smoking frequently. Mom did smoke infrequently and mostly just socially when The “Kev” was away attending his never-ending rounds of psychological symposiums. As Kevin always loved telling me, life is all about staying current; you should never rest on your laurels. If you are not moving forward, you are going backward was a favorite maxim of his. I, for one, did not know if I was coming or going lately. My dreams had me so very, very exhausted through lack of deep sleep and morbid anxiety over their meaning. There are very few people who can remember their dreams to any degree of accuracy but not me; I can remember every detail vividly and in technicolor. My dreams brought me to strange places and involved me in many strange events. At times I was just an observer of these events. At other times I was aware of myself as a participant in the events while simultaneously observing myself being that player in the dream. It gets even more confusing, don’t worry,
I travel through time in both directions, back and forth. I sometimes meet myself going in an opposite direction, but I am powerless to change the course of the happenings or my places in them. Sometimes there are people I know, such as my parents or friends, in these dreaming’s but then again, there were times I did not know myself let alone anyone else. These were the dreaming’s where I changed shape, gender, or age. Where I was transported to other worlds with altered realities and time measurements. I have even attended my own funeral service. That was a barrel of laughs, I can tell you. All joking aside, I made a great-looking corpse, and the goth look really suits my complexion.
In one dreaming I was still just a bunch of rapidly dividing cells in my mother's womb. I had never known I gave her such terrible morning sickness early in the pregnancy. I pass through gateways or portals and become strange altered beings. I now know what it's like to live out your life in a fish tank, and why did I have to be the bottom-feeding glass cleaner, monotonous or what? But it was not as bad as being a woman in seventeen forty-three, those bustles and corsets, so not fun. I did enjoy being a breath of fresh air, though it was hard to inhale in stuffy unventilated enclosures without becoming faint.
The situations and possibilities were endless and sometimes terrifying. I will not forget my time as an old man’s death rattle in a hurry. Five long weeks it took him to die, and he regularly called on me to perform, and yet no matter how well I did it, he would then decide he was not quite ready to die just yet, and we would have to go through the whole song and dance routine again. Add to that the wholesale family drama each time I was called on to perform, and you start to understand why I don’t easily forget it.
You might think I am pretty glib about all of this; it might seem like it, but I tell you it beats terrifying everyone, which I could easily do. Use your imagination and think about what it would be like to be a part of your own brain in a world where brains are a separate and unique entity with their own individual set of needs, wants, and aspirations. Then think on what it would mean to be enslaved to that brain and only to its needs and wants. All life as nothing but a computational algorithm. Sound familiar!
Or take the opposite extreme when we are no more than the contents of our stomachs, existing only to feed the never-ending nutritional mash and the digestive enzymes that reside there. No rumination on the meaning of the self or of life. Only a minimalistic and rudimentary brain stem to support the gears necessary for keeping the stomach gears turning. Nothing but a never-ending need to keep eating. Once again, I will ask you, the reader, does this particular organism sound somewhat familiar to you?
I am now at a place in my dream life where I am no longer sure if I have dreamed something or is it really a part of my reality. That then begs the question, what is my reality, or even more pointedly, what is reality? From there, we start getting into all sorts of philosophical conundrums. Do I dare mention the chicken or the egg? It seems I already have. So Pandora’s box is well and truly open.
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