Dream Construction: The Me Behind The Curtain

Rube Goldberg

(Image by Rube Goldberg, of course!)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a small upswing in dream success: Not interpretation, or remembering more (in fact I seem to be remembering less again lately), but rather, how my dreams are put together. There have been several different puzzle pieces that have shown up from time to time, so I’ll list them each separately:

ACTIVE DREAMING. This one is something I’ve done occasionally for as long as I can remember, though I didn’t have a name for it until my friend Alexandra gave me one a few months ago. This is a step or two away from Lucid Dreaming: Instead of being in complete control of the dream, I’m still ensconced and involved in the the reality of the dream, but vaguely aware that I am dreaming. That’s enough for me to change some element of the dream to give me something I need, or get rid of something I don’t want. For instance . . .

REMOVING OBSTACLES. I’ve had several episodes in recent weeks where obstacles are thrown in my way but I’m aware enough of the dream that I’m able to remove them. There’s been a new twist on this in the last week or so, though, which is why it’s getting its own category: In the case of one dream, not only was I aware of the dream enough to remove them, I also had an awareness in the back of my mind that I was the one placing the obstacles in the dream in the first place.

I’m wary of using the term “Higher Self” here because it has so many other connotations in metaphysics that may or may not apply. But in the course of the dream and willing the obstacles away – and in this particular case, also setting down clues to navigate my way through a maze in the dream – I also realized that I had a much, much larger awareness of constructing the dream behind the scenes. That the larger part was building the dream the same way that a theater crew will build stage scenery, and that I was also the one putting the obstacles in my dream for my dreaming self to figure out ways to remove. I was somewhat amazed by this in the dream and utterly stunned when I woke up and realized the ramifications of it – it really was like pulling back the Wizard’s curtain, but finding myself handling the switches and gears.

CREATING TACTILE OBJECTS. This realization of the greater awareness happened again a few days later in a different way. A few weeks ago I was dreaming my way through my grandparents’ house – a common dream setting for me – when I heard a voice telling me that I was dreaming. “No I’m not,” I told it. It insisted that I was, and I replied by insisting right back that I wasn’t. To prove that I wasn’t dreaming, I touched a nearby wall. In the dream it felt as solid as any wall would in waking life, right down to the texture of the paint. “Yes, you can feel it,” the voice told me, “but you’re still dreaming.”

I was unrepentant.

Then the other day I dreamed, once again, of being at my grandparents’ house, this time in the large room in the basement, half the size of the house, where my grandfather had his workshop. It was full of all kinds of things, mostly tools but other odds and ends, and always fascinated me. In my dreams the number of shelves increase until they stretch across the room from one side to the other, filled with a menagerie of items that my grandfather did and did not have. As I was poking through the room in the dream I had the awareness again (no voice this time) that I was dreaming, and once more decided to test this by touching an object. I randomly picked a steel box on a shelf.

I touched it – and this time not only did I feel the metal under my fingertips, but I was suddenly struck with the connection to that greater awareness again, but I was cognizant that this higher self of mine was actively creating the box even as I touched it. I almost couldn’t believe it, but felt a poke along the lines of Here, I’ll show you. I’ll change the box.  Through the connection I could “see”, without seeing, that the box was being altered so that there was an extendable piece of plastic being manufactured to appear in the center of the box. It appeared, I touched it too, and pulled it out – it stretched out like a collapsible cup. You see? We created that.

Unfortunately I woke up before I could explore further. But once again, I woke up stunned over the ramifications of this – and the potential if I could somehow get it to happen more often.

And then there’s the strangest new awareness of all:

DUALITY. I’ve been trying to think of how to explain this in any way that makes sense. But really, if you want to talk about dreams, you just have to expect nonsense every now and then, don’t you? OK, so here goes: I’m completely accepting of the reality of the dream…but also aware in the back of my mind that I’m dreaming.

Yeah, that’s a paradox, I know. How can I be completely but not completely at the same time? All I can say is – it’s a dream. And within the dream it’s perfectly logical.

This has happened three or four times in the last few weeks, but here’s an example from just last night:

I’m in a city, I don’t know which one – in fact, even in the dream I didn’t know which one. I’m out in a motorboat in a city-side bay in a motor boat, speeding away because there’s a distinct possibility that there will be some kind of attack against the city tonight, maybe nuclear. Yet at the same time in the dream, while frantically trying to grab distance, I’m studying the riverfront buildings carefully, thinking, I’d like to know where this city is if it’s a real one, and maybe I can find it after I wake up. I even go so far as to pick out one particular building, and amidst my fleeing I’m thinking, Black glass skyscraper, tapered at the top. That’s distinctive enough that I if it’s real, I might be able to Google it when I wake up.

I don’t suspect this is a normal thought process when you simultaneously think you might be running for your life. But there you go.

It happened a second time in the dream too: I make my way back to a science fiction convention I was attending in the dream, which is on the farthest outskirts of the city, in the giant basement of a church. We’re using the basement as a potential bunker. We try to order pizza, but nobody will deliver because everyone is afraid of the attack coming while they’re outdoors. This is making me rather bitter because I’m getting increasingly hungry and have no food otherwise.

Yet at the same time that our situation is looking increasingly dire, I’m simultaneously thinking, I should try to remember the name of this convention when I wake up, so I can look it up and see if it’s a real thing. Maybe that’ll tell me where this city is, too.

So what to make of all of this? I have been doing dream work with regularity because I wanted to learn the mechanics of them, and this seems to be a payoff.

On the flip side, however, I don’t expect to ever quite go all the way towards lucid dreaming every single time, and/or being able to peer into the mechanics every single time. There are reasons that we dream; there are reasons that we are wholly caught up in the dream while we’re dreaming it. That can’t just be chucked away – I suspect it’s part of the contract we sign, as it were, when we want to be born on Schoolhouse Earth.

In other words, you can get behind-the-scenes glimpses and occasional revelations about the rules, but you’ll still have to play by the rules. So far the glimpses have been fascinating enough that I’m OK with that.

But hey, if anybody knows of a city that has a black glass skyscraper with a tapered top standing by the edge of a bay, I’d like to know that, too.

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