Monday, December 6, 2004

Lucite dreams, or something like that.

In response to my NPC dream the other day, Talia said

Dude, how can you be so self-aware in your dreams? Doesn't that mean you automatically break out of the dream or something?

To this I say "Ha!" And also "On the contrary..."

At some point in my youth, I started being able to recognize, as I dreamt, that I was dreaming. At first it was just an awareness, but soon I was able to influence the dreams, mostly to steer them away from nightmarishness. The influence turned to control, and eventually I got to the point that I had complete control over my dreams.

In my dreams, I could do anything I wanted, and everyone else did what I wanted. I could steer events in any direction I pleased. I could transition from one theme to another, and as an adolescent boy, a particular theme ended up dominating. I won't mention it directly, but it's one with which roughly 100% of boys are obsessed. No, not fighter jets. The other one.

I'm not sure if complete control over an alternate universe is a healthy thing for a boy with no worldly knowledge, but that's what I had for a while.

Lucid dreaming is not unheard of. A moment's googling yields all sorts of information, some pages more, um, grounded than others. A lot of the pages are about trying to acquire the skill. I came by the skill naturally, or at least on my own. It wasn't until years later that I learned that there was a term for it. I'm not sure how common it is.

As an adult, my dreams aren't nearly as vivid, and I remember them less often. Sometimes I'm aware that I'm dreaming, sometimes I'm not, but I don't generally have the level of control that I once did. This is probably because I don't care anymore, and I don't put any effort into it. On occasion, if a dream becomes particularly nightmarish, I'll will myself awake. That's about the extent of my control these days.

To me, the most interesting thing is that dreams contain conflict at all. Why do bad things ever happen in dreams? It's just the mind screwing with itself. I still have those stupid didn't-study-all-semester dreams, or those can't-find-my-locker dreams, and sometimes during the dream I'll think "This is ridiculous! Brain, you suck!" Sometimes my dreams become self-fulfilling and self-defeating: worrying about something ensures that it'll come to pass. Those dreams are the worst, particularly when I'm lucid enough to realize it's my own mind doing it.

Nightmares are the Sadistic Bastard Prankster in your brain, picking at scabs and poking at shadows, trying to make the scary things come out. Lucid dreams are, essentially, the complete absence of the Sadistic Bastard. When he's gone, all that's left is a world that you control.

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