On March 16, as I sit down in the front seat of my car to go to work, I receive a flash from what had to have been a dream. I remember driving at night, looking anxiously at the dashboard as its lights went out.
When I awoke the following day, I recalled looking into the backpack I still carry around despite being 36 years of age and out of school, looking to see how many packs of cigarettes I had left. It turned out I had more than I had anticipated, which amounts to perhaps four packs of Marlboro Blacks. What should have been, to me, the clear giveaway: I have never bought a pack of Marlboro Blacks. Nor would I carry around my notebooks and books by hand along with the box of dried mash potato mix I have in my kitchen cabinet, though that crisp and colorful image also came into my head.
This is how my dream recall has gone as of late. Tiny glimpses. Often memories crop up when I awaken and I can write them down type them out before they fade, but just as often it is something in the midst of the day that triggers a creeping memory of a dream. Typically its just a fragment divorced from whatever narrative it was originally a part of. When these memories last for even the shortest duration, though, I still find evidence of my omnipresent mindlessness. All were moments in which there was clear suggestion that it was a dream and yet I passively accepted it, unquestionably accepted the circumstances I was in despite their clear absurdity, mindlessly allowing myself to be seized and absorbed by my own illusions. I was still just sleeping through my dreams. Sleeping a third of my life away, so they say — though perhaps not so much given the consistent periods of insomnia.
There have been a few “dream teases,” as I prefer to call them. A lot like the Ohio weather: promises of waking life and warm weather destroyed by perpetual and unreasonable periods of frosty, frigid deathlike sleep.
In early April, I found that my car’s brake line was leaking, and given that I had no money until my paycheck at the end of the week, I turned to Elizabeth and Jacky, two friends of mine at work, for rides until I could get the damn thing fixed. They were generous enough to help me, but this required getting up early on some days because their shifts did not always synchronize with my own. One one particular afternoon, April 7th, I got permission from Jacky to hide in her car until my shift started, as I had hours to kill with empty pockets in a town I loathe. In there, I wrote on my iPhone, read a little, and eventually found that I was so sleep deprived that taking a nap was even possible. At some point during my nap I half-awoke to the sound of my boss’s voice nearby the car, hiding the bowl full of weed beside me under my arm, and eventually hiding it in the crack between the passenger seat and the door. Only when I fully awoke later did I realize that the boss was not here today and there was no way I would be smoking pot in Jacky’s car. However dazed I was during the experience, what I had had was a false awakening.
It had been some time since that had happened to me. However much it was frustrating that I only realized its nature in retrospect, I found the false awakening hopeful. For the last few weeks I had been focusing on reading and watching more videos online regarding lucid dreaming; perhaps this served as a sign that I might be waking up from the zombie slumber that has overtaken my dream life and often seems to invade enough of my waking hours as well.
This zombie state is what I felt was perhaps referenced my dream on April 13th. While talking with someone I turned to find what looked like Hal from the movie 2001, though in this case his robotic eye lens was on the face of R2D2 like some cyclops droid.
“Nice mobile unit,” I said to Hal, turning back to my conversation.
The robot theme is building in what little I have been remembering the last few months of my dreams, perhaps in reference to my typical autopilot somnambulism, the lifeless, zombie daze I operate in during my daily life — and Colin Wilson’s idea of “the robot function,” which I find myself identifying with.
Between the 22nd and the 23rd I received two more dream flashes. In one, I was walking with a group of people along a sidewalk when I passed by TR, who was going the other way. He turned around to say hello, and I looked him in the face and returned the greeting. We shook hands and then parted ways. This was a guy I knew from high school and we had engaged in many circular religious debates. In another flash, there is a girl almost on top of me, as if she might be waking me up, and I think it is Sadie, a friend, lesbian and former workmate of mine, though she soon made it abundantly clear she was Sadie’s twin sister, Sally — a mistake that I have made more than once when actually bumping into them in public.
I made a similar mistake on the 24th, as I sat on the front lawn of my parent’s property during the warm, sunny day, sitting on the lush grass beneath the shade of trees. I was calmly looking at the house and noticing the tree right beside it, sitting to the right from my perspective. Long, narrow, it rose over the rooftop, perhaps over all the trees in thick forest surrounding the property — and high into the bright, blue sky. Shaking my head, I thought to myself that if this were a dream and I were lucid, I would want to fly and perch atop that area. It would be the perfect place to rest and observe, a natural throne from which I could, from a great height, observe things from over a great distance.
The lucid dreaming material I had been watching and listening to lately had suggested having a good idea of what you wanted to do once you became lucid in a dream. I knew I wanted to fly in outer space; I had decided that long ago. Now I was engaging in that line of thought a bit more, which I admit is good. What bothers me is this: not once, as I sat there thinking all of that over, did I consider that I was actually in a dream at that very moment.
I was lacking awareness. Mindfulness. Lucidity. All I had to do was to realize that I was dreaming while I was thinking about lucid dreaming. I just had to suspect it, seriously consider it for a moment and perform a reality check as all the countless things I had read and watched had suggested. I had all the material I needed, I only had to put it to use. Once awake within what I knew to be a dream I could engage in flight fueled by the belief that I could and perch up there in the sky as I had wished.
Needless to say, awakening to remember that dream scene was more than mildly frustrating.