On being a vivid dreamer

Some coworkers and I were on our way to lunch today, when the topic of conversation switched to dreaming (I think I switched it, actually). I started to regale them with some stories about my very vivid dreaming habits, and thought, “You know, I should write some of these down.”

“Hey, this is a dream”

I’m a lucid dreamer a reasonable portion of the time. This means I am aware that I’m dreaming and that I’m in a sort of subconscious playground and can do whatever I want. Curiously, I don’t ever do too much that I wouldn’t do in my normal life, so it’s definitely not about me taking opportunities to beat people up or rob banks or anything. It’s normally just an interesting way for me to explore my dreams with a heightened awareness and see what my brain’s cooking up. I can create some situations, control others. I’ll admit I intentionally got busy with Prince when I ran into him in a dream once, just because I was curious. He was fairly skillful for a purple Munchkin. Pretty much what I would’ve expected.

Flying

I can fly in my dreams, and I fly a LOT. And, for those of you who don’t fly, I shouldn’t probably go into too much detail, just so you don’t know what you’re missing. Flying is singularly incredible. In my dreams, I use it as a mode of transportation, escape, or just a transition to new scenery in a dream. If I’m getting bored with my current circumstances, I take off and fly somewhere else. Most of the time, flying is very relaxing. I fly from rooftop to rooftop in cities, and sometimes head out into more “country” type areas where there are few lights below and I have no idea where I’m going. My country flights usually happen in what looks like dusk or dawn. Not sure why that is.

The mechanics of flying are fairly straightforward. I usually have to “flap my arms” to take off from the ground, but once I’m up there, I can flatten out into a “Superman”-style pose and point myself in whatever direction I want to go. The only thing I have trouble with is speed — it doesn’t seem like I can ever fly fast enough. But, if you’ve seen how I drive, you can understand how this might be the case.

I think I’m maturing as a dream flyer, because I’ve started teaching others how to fly. It’s generally with mixed success, but I’ve flown with friends and family and, as recently as last night, taught my dog how to fly with me. It was hilarious, she doggie-paddled in the air when she got up there with me. I’m glad she can fly now, because I’d be loath to ever leave her behind.

Escape mode

I’ve never really had nightmares, even as a kid. Sure, a few scattered here and there, but I’ve been mostly nightmare-free. This doesn’t mean my subconscious never presented me with anything scary while I slept, it’s just that I had a way to deal with them: an escape hatch. In every dream I  had that had potential to turn into a nightmare, there was always a portal of some kind that I could identify just by sight, or even more of a sixth sense. It could be a door, a window or a hole in the wall, but I knew, if I went through that opening, I’d wake up. I used this to get away from all the bogeymen. Pretty neat trick.

Freddy doesn’t mess with me anymore

One of the only “nightmares” I remember having was pretty humorous in retrospect, and it was fairly telling about who I am in my dreams. I’m apparently a little bit of a badass. This particular dream took place in an old Western ghost town, very dusty, sun-baked, desolate. I was walking down the deserted main street and Freddy Krueger kept popping his head out from behind buildings and leering at me with his blades clickity-clacking on the old wood facades of these abandoned buildings. Now, I’ve seen “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and I didn’t find Freddy all that scary in those movies, and I wasn’t really that afraid of him in this one, it was more that he was startling me, and I don’t like to be startled. He’d popped his head out at me one too many times, when I marched up to the corner where he’d last appeared, turned to face him, stuck my finger in his face and said, “You know what, Freddy? Fuck you!” And he disappeared. Caroline 1, Freddy 0.

New breed of nightmares

The escape hatch was a pretty cool thing to have, but, as I’ve gotten older, my subconscious has figured out how to make me face nightmare-inducing material. Now, rather than being chased by something seen, I’m hounded by something unseen. More of a presence, an entity, a malevolent “something” that follows me through houses, shimmers at me in mirrors, and generally creeps the ever-loving shit out of me. To my credit, though, I always yell at it, challenge it to give me its best shot, and all it can ever do is make me feel uneasy and creeped out. I think what I really want is for it to show itself, but it never does. I’m not even sure at this point if I’d know where that escape hatch would be if the spooky thing did materialize, it’s been so long since I needed to use it.

Tornadoes and plane crashes…and virginal sex

What I find so interesting about my dreams is the ability my brain has to “create” situations I’ve actually never been in. For example, I’ve lived through several tornadoes and plane crashes in my dreams, and I’ve certainly never been in either of those. I also remember having “dream sex” well before I’d ever had real sex, and it felt exactly the same, even in the complete absence of knowing how it should feel. How does your brain do that? Kind of makes you wonder about the concept of reincarnation, if we’ve all really been here before, and there are memories buried deep in our grey matter that we can only access while asleep. It’s pretty fascinating stuff.

So yeah, I love dreaming, and I definitely have very vivid dreams. And I’m always just so amused because they’re often pretty esoteric material — it’s like my subconscious is having a clearance sale or something, and “everything must go!” How else can you explain me actually having a dream about a Canada goose on a bicycle? I’m serious. The goose was on a bicycle. On a freeway. I don’t even know how he reached the pedals, but I guess he represented some subconscious tangle my brain needed to work out, and sometimes you just have to shut up, dream the dreams, and not ask too many questions.

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