My hand reacted to the sound of the alarm before my mind had even begun to register the noise, slapping in the general direction of the annoying buzz until my fingers connected with the fat red button, struggling sluggishly on the smooth plastic until they pushed it down in a satisfying click. A blissful silence followed. I strained the muscles of my face until one eye fluttered open half-way, enough to register the dim light coming in from the window, but my other eye stayed shut with gumminess and its own reticence for greeting the day. Relaxing my face muscles, I sloppily rubbed my eyes with the fattest part of my palms, not trusting the dexterity of my fingertips and my own ability not to poke myself. My hands slid down my face, pulling and stretching my cheeks like the jowls of a bloodhound or an old diabetic.
It was hard to recall, but I was fairly certain that my bed had been made when I got into last night. Regardless, that was not the case now. The blankets were twisted around my legs like spaghetti around a fork, and my whole body was turned diagonally, making a perfect 45 degree angle within the rectangle of my bed. At this point it felt necessary to say something my vocal box sent up a noise—doubtlessly meant to be some clarifying question—which was stopped by my stubbornly closed lips, instead reverberating inside my mouth. It was a whimper or a moan, or maybe a groan, that sounded pitiful and weak. Well, that’s how I felt. Also confused; I felt so confused. Not about my present surroundings—I was in my own room, in my own bed, and was waking up to the sound of an alarm that I consciously set myself—but about what had just happened. What is the point of sleep if you feel more tired afterwards? My body had lain down to rest but my mind had betrayed it, using the lack of temporal distractions to blast off into the infinite universe of imagination. Somehow my body had been dragged along, twisting and turning as my mind took me on adventures both bizarre and wild.
Where had I gone? Camping, yes…camping with the lawyer lady from How to Get Away with Murder. Okay…and we had been hiking back (from where?), talking about jury selection and the role race played in it; I remember thinking that what she was saying was racist (against who?), but had not told her because she was obviously just trying to be pragmatic. Then suddenly we had realized something was wrong and I remembered I had not packed up my tent, and so had volunteered to run back for it. Two others volunteered too…was it Clara? And her dad? Yeah, and he had told her to not run so fast and I was a little annoyed that he volunteered to come with us if he was just going to slow us down. Why the realistic details? Why not something more fantastical that I actually could not do in real life?
Oh, wait…then somehow we had been driving fast in a car…into a lake. Ok, so at least there is some sort of space/time distortion that allows me to teleport…into a deep muddy part of the lake that we then have to back out of. Again, why the annoying details? Why not just flying cars and camping on a volcano and maybe not forgetting anything and having to go back for it? There are is plenty of annoyance and tedium in real life; could my imagination really not come up with anything better?
The rest of the dream is utter haziness, just a thick bank of fog in my mind. Probably because I was so uncomfortably confused when I first woke up that I did not want to think about it more and bring out the muddled details. Assumedly the adventures of my dream were contiguous and more or less made sense (within their own context), and it was just their disparity with reality that was disallowing me from remembering more. But part of me worried that there was something terrible that happened in the subconscious explorations of my mind during the night; something distressing that made me so tired and confused upon wakening. Perhaps a grisly murder? Or a distortion of reality that would skew my entire perception? Something so far gone from my real daylight life that my imagination had to stitch together many different people, and places, and words, and images just to create it. I don’t want to think about that sort of shit, not more than once anyways. Better to allow those sorts of malignant imaginings fade into obscurity, or forgetfulness—which in the case of dreams is really the same as never having happened at all?
But maybe it was something glorious, that little piece that was missing. I certainly do not doubt the beauty of imagination; I love art in every form and am amazed by how each person’s mind works in the way they view differently the same facts of life that everyone else sees too. Nor do I doubt the power of imagination, evidenced throughout history by those few individuals that we call geniuses or inventors. So what of that next level of imagination: those creative creations that are so far beyond articulation in words or paint or music that we can only grasp them in the deepest hour of dreamy meditation? For all the wonderful masterpieces we create in the temporal world (with all its temporal limitations), could we not create inventions many times more wonderful in a limitless environment such as our imagination? Contemplating that makes me confused and tired, and even sad. For how strange is it to think that your mind can create such beauty and inspire such happiness but you will never be able to experience it in the flesh? But maybe that is not even such a bad thing—perhaps it is right that the greatest moments (or thoughts or feelings) can only be experienced outside the imperfect real world, on your own, and you will never have the faculties to properly articulate these experiences enough to share them with others. Maybe that is one of the beauties of life afforded to us by being human. Maybe that is the greatest beauty of all.
See? Even contemplating such contemplations makes you confused and tired. It makes you scratch your head until it hurts, even if it is that deep burn like after a long run that some people love and everyone else calls those people masochists. There is exercise of the mind and then there is exercise of the mind, and some people have no interest at all in ever running a marathon. If you are one of those who do not enjoy contemplating contemplation, though, you surely would have stopped reading this mess a long time ago. Everyone else is going to stick with it ‘til the end, because you enjoy the burn, and eschew labels as pointless as masochist.
Maybe there was some indescribable good or bad that happened last night, in the depths of my mind, and that’s how I came to be wrapped up in a perfect twister of blankets and insecurities. Or maybe nothing like that happened at all. Maybe the parts of my dream that faded away before I could grasp them and tie them into my conscious memory were just as mundane and boring as the rest: I found my tent, and packed it up, and we all walked back together down the trail. Maybe Wolf Blitzer showed up, but we just talked about the conflict in the Middle East and then our favorite type of pizza. It started snowing then, which was odd because he had been on the beach just a moment before, but that trifling details was forgotten as I suddenly remembered I was wearing sandals. So then I had cold feet until I woke up.
I have very little interest in interpreting my dreams—in either a psychological or mystical way. I will leave that to the Freud’s and Professor Trelawney’s of the world (clearly I don’t even have enough respect for divination to research a non-fictional fortune-teller)—but it has less to do with not believing in its possible utility. Rather, it is the opposite: I am afraid that if I went down the path of investigating my dreams I would never return. I would get caught up in trying to remember every last detail of my dream-ventures, and trying to figure out how my subconscious concocted such strange images and ideas. What was I doing that set my mind on that path? What does that mean about my innermost desires? And is there something more? If within my dreams there lies the key to a higher level of consciousness, or even just imagination, how could I not devote my entire life to trying to discover it? I would never again be able to live my life ‘normally’; my days would invert so that my waking hours were simply times to observe and collect material for my imagination to use later. I would live for sleep and dreams would become my new reality. Imagine if I could master lucid dreaming and do anything I wanted! Anything at all! How could anyone turn their back on that and live in the same boring finite reality that the rest of us are shackled in?
I push myself out of bed, joints groaning as the move for the first time in eight hours, or maybe it’s me groaning as I practice to be an old man, which I will be soon enough if I am lucky. I scratch my head—not too hard—and yawn widely, mouth agape like a snake that has stumbled upon an ostrich nest. Soon the woes, wonders, bores, and excitements of the world will hurl themselves at me and my dreams will be all but forgotten. It would take a stupendous effort to have it be any other way, and I am not ready for that sort of effort, especially this early in the morning. Maybe tonight some epiphany will come to me, slipping into my nose as I inhale, making its way up to my brain and wedging itself into the tiny compartment where dreams are made. Maybe tomorrow morning my eyes will snap open at the first sound of the alarm, and I will sit up straight and stare into the dark surroundings with a newfound clarity. Maybe every detail of my dreams will be perfectly memorable and this enlightening will brighten to include every detail of my life and Life and soon I will live in a different world, with a different perspective.
Or maybe I will wake befuddled and tired, struggling to remember the bizarre scenes of the inane movie that played through my mind as it fired random neurons just for the hell of it to see what sorts of images it could drum up. That is fun too.