Word of the day

Only during a fever are my dreams especially vivid. In ordinary health, my dreams are like low-light projections on waxy paper. I can recall few if any details of my nighttime movies. It’s like trying to retrieve a particular wisp of smoke from a fog machine.

Over the holidays, I saw a talk by Drew M on lucid dreaming. I learned:

I am trying and training, but progress is slow. I have started a dreamlog (all-one-word, so you know it’s official) to record any scraps that haven’t blown away by morning. In one recent dream I am a passenger on a highway drive, forever crossing the border. In another I wish a close friend goodbye, forever. In yet other, I am waiting in line for tofu ice cream. (Sounds more like a nightmare.)

Wild fancy—an astonishing oxymoron in its own right–does well to describe the second sense of dream. Inchoate desire. A longing made translucent by its distance:

“We dream of moving to Paris one day.”
“It’s a dream that my parents will ever be proud of me.”
“She dreamt of a world without war.”

These are not projects. They are barely wishes, because wishes by their nature (instructions for a jinn) are imperative. These are expressions of want made of mist. We don’t talk about things we can actually have this way (“I dream of a soy milk latte”), and this is telling. Perhaps the reason our hopes lack clarity is the somniative language we shroud them in.

Why not consider dream life as a valid state of conscious existence? After all, it’s not as though waking life is perfectly comprehensible. Nor are we always in control. Could dreams be another arena for thought and expression?

As I understand it, there are two major to-dos for those in lucid dream training. The first is to acknowledge that you are a person capable of remembering dreams. Drew suggested I literally say this out loud as my brain shuts down at night. “I am a person that remembers my dreams.” (Perhaps also: “I am one with the force, the force is with me.”)

The second is to ask yourself, at regular intervals, in waking life: “Am I dreaming?” followed by a test to check. The goal is to turn the repeated questioning of the nature of reality into a pragmatic habit—like when you tap a pocket to check that your phone is with you.

Eventually, at some point you will find yourself asking, “Am I dreaming?” and you will be. Far out man.