Friday, April 04, 2014

Dreamer By Day and By Night

Yet again, this old rag has gotten a new face, a sign that like so many others, I resolve to write more. I struggle with this, because who is really interested in what I have to say? Besides my own mother, of course. But I've been dwelling in my dreams more, wondering where these crazy conjurings come from in the dark of night, where only my wandering brain can see them. By day, I am a mere mortal, subjected to the ordinariness of the realm of the fully conscious. I am not what anyone would describe as an especially creative person in my dress or demeanor. As I slumber, though, the grinding gears of a clearly repressed brain turn workaday situations and ideas into the worlds of science fiction and surrealism. I don't do any drugs - really, I don't - but sometimes a glass of red wine in the evening can increase the level of weirdness in my slumbering stories.

I fall asleep listening to BBC News on my local NPR station, because admittedly, I'm a little afraid of lying alone in the dark, and the stories distract me from the stream of consciousness that would otherwise keep me awake. Once sleep washes over me, anything goes. Sometimes the scenery could be a long-lost Magritte or DalĂ­ painting, eerily strange and twisted but not scary, with a rambling plot that really makes no sense. Other times, it's whimsical and fantastical, with vivid colors like the beautiful scenes from What Dreams May Come. A few times, science fiction drives the theme, likely influenced by something I read, like my female-centric sequel to the book Ready Player One, this time entering different universes through trap doors in an old Victorian home, searching for some object (what it was, I now can't remember). And then there are the ethereal dreams that imply death - not the scary dying part, but the floating, peaceful, somewhat lonely part afterward.

My dreams aren't always like this. I have recurring expressions of anxiety that manifest as various forms of travel that never get me to my destination. Or wandering a giant shopping mall, looking for an item that I never find. Or hiding from a tornado that passes overhead or nearby, leaving me unscathed. Lately, I have cared for my brother as a small child or experienced the alienation of my special someone's son growing up and becoming someone we can't recognize. But usually, it's the same randomness that everyone experiences during the night - snippets of real life combined and twisted into something that resembles reality but makes much less sense. It feels like it goes on for the entire night but is probably only an hour two in total, and sometimes I awaken feeling just as I do during the day, like it would be such a relief for my brain to just turn off for a while. The dreamless nights, or at least the nights during which I sleep so soundly that I'm not aware of my dreams, are such relief and are sadly so rare.

And yet. I'm envious, really, of Dreaming Me. Sometimes my nightly worlds and experiences are so fun, so interesting, so pleasantly strange, that I want to stay there longer or bring them back with me to the land of the conscious. At the very least, I wish that I had the skills to translate my inner machinations into a story in words or images. Something that I can hold onto when regular life is just so mundane. A technique for pulling ideas from my brain so that I can enjoy them while awake and be rid of them while asleep. Or maybe even a new way to make some money. Maybe someday, we will be able to download our brains, record unconscious images like a DVR to play back later, splice and enhance and edit. Some people practice lucid dreaming, but it's still ephemeral, lasting only a short while and never to return in the exact same form.