My mom was telling me yesterday that as she gets older, she has begun having amazing dreams — not the usual your-car-turns-into-a-coffee-cup fare, but coherent linear experiences of beautiful places and great conversations with people she loves (dead or alive). All of it vivid. All of it feeling completely real, without that sense of wacky slow-time or quick-time that so often comes with the dreamscape. And she says that even frightening moments aren’t scary anymore: they’re just… interesting.
She tells me that going to sleep these days is like going to the movies. Although to me it sounds like more than that — it sounds like living another layer of life.
How cool is that?
I love the few dreams I’ve had with clarity and heft beyond the usual vapor of random brain-sparks. With conversations that felt real even after I woke; with feelings that carried me smiling or wondering through my day. I’ve tried to learn lucid dreaming without much success so far. I’d love to learn to fly in dreams, or to recognize when something scary is happening and change it for the better — but really what I want more than anything is to have experiences in dreams that are as meaningful and real to me as the waking moments of my “real” life. I think it would be astonishing to have those wandering, wondering conversations with people I miss because they are dead, or on the other side of the world, or because I never met them. I might learn so much. I might mend so many fences, or build so many bridges, or discover new territory inside another person to explore. I might see beautiful things. I might return to the Grand Canyon or walk the beaches of Musha Cay, dance at Burning Man, talk with my great-grandmother again, check in on my best friend Shirley from 8th grade whom I still miss, make movies with all my favorite actors and have those late-night dinners on set where people show themselves in ways the camera never sees. I might stand in the front row of the best U2 concert ever, in the intimacy of a venue of 300 people where the band plays all night and none of us ever gets tired. I’d start all those conversations I was too shy or scared or polite to ever begin. I’d finish some conversations differently…
I suppose it all sounds like a great big Wish List, but somehow it feels like more. It feels as though there’s another layer of life waiting — wanting — to be lived. If I wake with the feeling of someone’s hand on my arm or the smell of the sea still strong in my nose, if it feels that real to the brain — if it feels lived — then you know, for me, that’s real enough. I don’t need to be able to touch it with my eyes open if I can feel it so strongly with my eyes closed.
I told my mum that although I’m a fairly reasonable person (especially for an artist), I’m definitely not most “adult” people’s idea of “rational” (wow, my “quote” key is getting worn out…). Mum, this is part of what I meant. My reality is relative. If it’s real to me, that’s “real” enough. I’ve found some of my strongest and most unexpected disagreements with people spring from their assertion that if something’s not real for them, it can’t be real for me either. But, you know, that’s their reality. It seems limiting to me.
I really do not want to hear the details of dreams other people have had. Blanket exception for Nicola and my parents — it was especially cool to hear my mum talk about her conversation with my Nana and my Aunt Mae. But in general I’m with Nicola on this one; dreams aren’t as interesting to hear about as they are to experience (they work much better in the movies, or in fiction, than over coffee the next morning).
But I’d love to hear what you would choose in the dreamscape if you could. What would you do, feel, be in the privacy of your mind if it could be as real as — even if not real in — your waking world?