“Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”
The worst kind of dream is when you dream that you wake up in your own bed. I mean, if you are dreaming you are in a submarine on Mars – if things go wonky, you can say to yourself, “Well, there are no submarines on Mars, and if there were, I wouldn’t be in one.” You know you are dreaming and can relax, knowing you will be awake sometime soon.
I rarely remember my dreams (There is that weird, just awoke, feeling where you feel the dream memories draining away like water down a drain) and when I do, they are very mundane and frustrating, like my real life.
Sometimes, though, I remember vividly.
The other night I dreamed that I was at Starbucks for a while, when it was time to go I discovered my car had been stolen. I walked around the parking lot, looking at the vacant space where my car used to be. Understandably, I was pretty upset and wondering how I was going to get home until I realized I was dreaming.
Right after that, I woke up in my bed… the sun was rising and I could see gray through the windows. I sat up, parted the curtains and looked out. My car was gone. Not a good way to start the day.
Then… I woke up again. I had been dreaming that I was in bed. This time, looking out at the street, I was relieved to see my car.
Unfortunately, there was an inch of ice all over it. There would be scraping before I made it to work.
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” ― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
The last few days I have been haunted by the same nightmare. It’s the same because when I go to sleep my dream starts up right where the last one ended, when I woke up. This has been happening not only at night, but if I try and sneak in a nap.
I’m in the dream, of course, but the person in the dream isn’t exactly me. I’m someone else, though I don’t know who.
The dream is set in Tokyo, sort of. It’s Tokyo but not the real one. It’s a dream nightmare Tokyo (and no, I’ve never been to Japan). The city itself isn’t as big or crowded as the real Tokyo is – it feels sort of like an American mid-sized city… maybe Lubbock. It’s definitely Dream Tokyo, though, I know that, I remember taking a long dream flight to get there.
I don’t know why I’m in Dream Tokyo. There is some sort of work that I am supposed to do. I have a vague feeling that my job is very important, but don’t remember what it is that I am doing.
Dream Tokyo is a coastal city with a very complex harbor, with several peninsulas and inlets. The border between land and water is very important to me.
The most obvious feature of Dream Tokyo is a highway bridge that links two parts of the city across a wide bay. This bridge is what gives the dream its nightmare edge. It’s not a regular bridge, of course. It’s very, very wide and extremely high. A huge arch reaching up into the sky. It is visible from everywhere in the city and dominates the horizon. Not only is it wide, but the edges simply end. There are no guardrails or other barriers along the side.
It should still be safe, though. It is so wide, almost like a field in the sky (it is green in color and covered with a very short grass, like a golf green) and not heavily used, so you could drive right down the middle with no risk of going over the edge.
That’s not how it works for me, though. I go off driving through Dream Tokyo (I know I wouldn’t ever actually drive in Real Tokyo, but here, there isn’t any mass transit) and I get confused on the poorly-labeled complex highway interchanges. All of a sudden, here I am, driving up the ramp to the vast grassy sky bridge even though it’s the last place I want to go. There is no turning back, I have to cross.
It is horrifying. I can see the sea off to each side and the blue water with the green bridge surface fills me with absolute terror – something about the open spaces sends me into panic (and no, in real life I do not suffer from agoraphobia in any way). I clutch the steering wheel with white, sweaty knuckles and drive quickly, almost with my eyes closed.
I do make it across. That was very odd – the road, despite being amazingly wide and crossing what must be a multi-billion dollar bridge, simply ends. The road narrows and ends in a short stretch of old, cracked tarmac that peters out at the water’s edge. Here the shoreline is paved and the water is dark and full of trash.
There was no clear path forward. I had to drive my car (a rental, I seemed to know that) over a curb and down onto a narrow paved alley that ran along the water and curved off into a neighborhood of run-down warehouses.
That’s the point where I woke up this morning. When I go to bed tonight will I be back in the car, entering the warehouse district? I doubt it. Writing the dream down will certainly kill it.
I’ll be somewhere else, somewhere completely different. A different city, a different seaside, a different bridge.
“In the world of the dreamer there was solitude: all the exaltations and joys came in the moment of preparation for living. They took place in solitude. But with action came anxiety, and the sense of insuperable effort made to match the dream, and with it came weariness, discouragement, and the flight into solitude again. And then in solitude, in the opium den of remembrance, the possibility of pleasure again.”
― Anaïs Nin
H&K Pump Air Compressors, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas
Oblique Strategy:Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency
I had a dream last night – I rarely remember my dreams but this one I did, I still do.
There is nothing more boring than reading about someone else’s dreams. Sorry.
This was a nightmare, after all. Not a monster, murderer, or painful death kind of nightmare – I don’t have those. It was a nightmare of fighting the bureaucracy – which is what really scares me.
I graduated from college… next year it will have been forty years.
Just reading that sentence gives me the willies.
But I still have nightmares about final exams, or ones like last night’s where I go back to take some more classes. I was old, my present age – everyone else was young… well, college student age. I had a room in the dorm, and somehow, I still had a key from the old days and it worked. I had to park my car (the car I presently have) in some sort of inconvenient, dangerous, and illegal spot – half in and out of the common room at the dorm. I hauled my stuff up to my room (which was very nice, by the way) and stashed it.
Somehow, this was my old school, my old dorm, my key fit – but everything was completely different. It was better – the dorm was a tower, computers and screens were everywhere, it was glassed-in, full of light, the people were all happy and attractive. I didn’t fit in – makes no real sense – but perfect dream sense.
But then was the nightmare – I never received my schedule, official key, or, most importantly, my ID Badge. I waited in line at the front desk. In my dream I listened to the problems of everyone in front of me – mostly trivial or easily solved. When I finally arrived and told my story I was then asked an endless series of questions:
“If you don’t have your key or your badge, how did you get into your room?”
“Are you sure you belong here?”
“Did you register properly online?”
“Everything is done on the internet now, don’t you understand that?”
“Is that your car over there?”
“What made you think you could park there?”
“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
—-Charles Bukowski, Factotum
Detail of Barbecue Trailer, Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Tx (click to enlarge)
I was having a nightmare. It wasn’t a horrible nightmare – it wasn’t like I was battling with a giant Adenoid that was devouring London or anything like that – it was a simple nightmare of hopeless frustration, defeat and failure. To my horror, I sudden realized that it wasn’t a nightmare after all – that I had woken up hours before and was simply out and going through my normal day.