Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Dream Within a Dream - Part 1

Dream Within A DreamI experience many things in my dream journeys but I have never, until recently, experienced the disconcerting perception of lost time. Until now I had thought of lost time as being the claim of alien abductees but never of someone who was primarily a dreamer. I am not a psychologist thus have not studied such things to even know if what I am referring to is actually lost time or some other sleep phenomena. What occurred was this...

I attempted sleep around 11:45 p.m. and had difficulty getting comfortable. I lay there nearly frustrated from my lack of ability to fall asleep as easily as I normally do and decided to turn over onto my left side. In doing so, I looked at my bedside digital clock and was astonished to see that it showed 4 a.m. There I was, fully awake and cognizant without any consciousness of having slept a single moment however at least four hours had passed from when I had turned off my lamp. I felt an instant alarm wash over me and the thought of lost time came into my head. But, just as suddenly, I felt an uncanny calm overcome me. A calm I usually only experience in my post meditative state. With a spontaneous smile that felt like knowing I closed my eyes and instantly fell fast asleep.

Immediately I began to dream. The base or entry dream itself is not of real importance in this particular recounting. It was an entertaining enough dream in which I found myself on an alternate Earth living in a large underground habitat. I was some sort of law enforcement officer and felt I was experiencing some future event of this alternate world. The world appeared to be post-apocalyptic with major destruction of much of the city. There were fierce battles with insurgents or roving organized bands of Mad Max-like bandits. Remember, time does not exist in the dream journeys I experience. In other words, I may dream of situations that take several weeks to unfold but awake to only a couple hours or even a few minutes of “real time” passage.

My dream traveler role this time was as observer as if I were watching a movie of my dream-self character with him unaware of my presence. An odd experience since I, the Dreamer, am fully in touch with my present consciousness and observing another manifestation of “me” acting out his life without knowledge of me the observer. In these instances, I am able to fully experience myself as me and as him simultaneously. Experientially complete with thoughts, emotions, and physical sensation. At times, I may switch between observer roll and completely immerse myself in the dream character role and my point of view changes to first person from the eyes of the dream character. However, I must admit that I do not always choose these identity swaps of my own free will.

Another peculiar point about this dream was when my dream character decided he was tired and went to his cramped cubicle to sleep. Until that moment I don't recall ever having a dream in which my dream-self decided to sleep. The observer identity I call me or I knew I was in the dream state and was still primarily the observer of the dream. Being also the dream character, I knew what his thoughts were. He was bone weary and needed rest badly as he near exhaustion. I found myself, the me or I of the Dreamer, to suddenly be concerned of what may occur should I allow the dream-self character to fall asleep. I will usually choose to wake up or change a dream scenario if it gets too bad or disconcerting. That thought crossed my mind then since I didn’t know the ramifications or expectations of the Dreamer experiencing the dreams of a dream-self character. Sometimes I am not successful vacating or abandoning a dream and must suffer whatever ill befalls the dream-self character. In those times I have endured injury or even death many times over.

I had no idea what to expect as my dream character lay on his cot in that cramped dirty cubicle with only a filthy curtain across the doorway as privacy. I do know that his last thoughts before drifting off to sleep where focused on wanting to discover the identity of the perpetrator. Then he slept. And he dreamed.

A Dream Within A Dream
By Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
Edgar Allan Poe
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep - while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

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