Monday, October 20, 2014

Lives

I was driving home from a writing conference, meandering my way through mist-cloaked mountains. There was other traffic on the highway, but not much. The road was wet. It was daylight but I couldn’t see the sun for the fog.

To my left the mountains fell away into a tree-choked gorge. On the right they rose and rose, majestic, covered with primeval forest. I came around a curve and was surprised and depressed to see a long, wide clearing running like a scar through the woods. Timber cutters had been at work here. The bare clay shown through, brownish-red and churned to mud.

The boles of sawn trees lay stacked along the scar. I gaped in astonishment at how huge they were. I thought of redwoods, which I’ve never seen in reality, but these seemed even bigger. Again, an impression of the primeval swept over me. It would not have seemed amiss to glimpse the towering forms of dinosaurs moving along the highway, or the sweeping leathery wings of pterodactyls stirring the mist-shrouded sky.

Then I saw a truck laden down with cut timber. These trees were even bigger. They dwarfed the truck that carried them. And something clicked inside my head. “This isn’t real,” I told myself. “I’m dreaming.”

Not long ago, I had determined a way to tell if I were dreaming or not. It didn’t involve pinching myself, which doesn’t work. No, what I do if I think I’m dreaming is jump up and see if I can touch the ceiling of the room I’m in. If I touch it, then I’m dreaming. I’ve used this successfully before but here I was in a car. I brushed the roof above my head with my fingers but that told me nothing.

While trying to come up with some other test, I realized I’d already proven the dream quality to myself anyway. While I’d been focused on trying to figure out how to know if I was dreaming, the car had gone on driving “itself” along the highway without running off the road. That would be nice in real life, but it proved to me here that I was in a dream.

Typically, when I find myself going lucid, I immediately start to fly. I love flying and know I don’t have a lot of time to do so in a dream. This time, though, I wanted to see this incredible forest better and simply projected myself out of the car onto a path through the trees. The mist was heavy and damp. I felt a chill. I didn’t care.

The trees loomed far, far over my head, their tops lost in white. The path wound between them and I moved along it, encased in an amber silence that was profound. At one point I saw a pale shape watching me from among the trees. In the real world it would have just been a billow of mist, but I knew here that it was a friendly spirit. I felt very strongly that it was my father. The dream dissolved a moment later and I had no chance to speak to him. I’ve done so in other dreams.

Someone told me not long ago that they hated to waste time sleeping. I never begrudge the time myself. Not only do my physical pains and worries disappear when I sleep, but I get to visit new landscapes and sometimes whole new worlds. I get to feel that oneness with the universe that I seldom feel while awake.

No, I don’t begrudge sleeping. It is then that I live other lives.
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24 comments:

Brian Miller said...

as long as you were not driving and flying....ha...not a good thing...sounds beautiful though...we just got back from a weekend in the mountains and it was gorgeous...starting to really show some color....

i wish i could sleep more...6 hours and my body pops awake...but i def dont mind a dream...

Ty Johnston said...

I wish I could remember my dreams more, especially lucid dreams. I can do so, but it's not natural for me. It takes some planning and work on my part, meditation and keeping a notebook and pen next to the bed, etc. but nowadays I rarely seem to have the will to do so.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, your dreams sound poetical and you recollect them poetically too. I enjoyed this piece.

Charles Gramlich said...

Brian, I sleep less now than I did when I was young because of pains that eventually wake me up.

Ty, I remember mine pretty well anyway but it definitely helps when I work at it.

Prashant, thanks!

Lana Gramlich said...

Your dreams are cool. I need you to come get me sometime when you're flying. I'll be stuck in line somewhere, being blamed for ruining everything when I was just trying to help.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, next time I will pull you into my cool dream.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't remember my dreams often either. And they aren't usually that vivid or interesting. Maybe I need to try flying next time.

David J. West said...

Very cool. I have tried flying in dreams but at the same time I hate heights so it freaks me out. But the landscapes are always beyond fantastic in dreams.

Charles Gramlich said...

Alex, tis great fun.

David J., I know. I so wish I could paint what I see.

Cloudia said...

Your final sentence bears deep wisdom, Charles. Human's relationship with Night, Sleep, and the Dream World are fundamental to our nature and I applaud your steps on this ancient trail.



ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^=

Chris said...

I dreamed last night I was eating spaghetti. All I took from it is that it's been too long since I ate spaghetti.

I have the occasional flying dreams, but there is always a point in them where I know I can fly, but I just can't quite get off the ground. I always eventually get back up in the air, but there are moments of such profound frustration that sometimes it wakes me up, and I lie there all irritated.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love the idea about jumping up to touch the ceiling!

the walking man said...

I have seen the Giant Sequoia, the last of the primaeval Rain Forest in North America, untouched mountains trails made by animals as they go from den to dinner and I have seen clear cut timberland's and mountain top removal for mining. I have smelt the smell of industry and let it soak and reek off me as it replaced the smell of sweat from a hard walk up a hillside.

Then I fell asleep and have not woken up pain free since.

You know I flipped on Sundays game and watched the fourth quarter until Stafford threw that interception at 5 minutes out. I guess I should not have switched channels eh?

Angie said...

This reminds me of driving (or rather, in my case, riding with someone else driving) between Portland and the coast on the way to or from Lincoln City, where Kris Rusch and Dean Smith have their workshops. As you pass over the mountain range nearest the coast on highway whatever-it-is, there's a section where a whole hillside has been ravaged by logging. It's ugly and raw looking, although I've been seeing it as I go back and forth for about three years now, so it might not've been particularly new the first time I saw it. And obviously it takes a very long time for the land to even begin to recover. [sigh]

I have seen actual redwoods, though -- one of the benefits of growing up in the Bay Area. It's worth a trip to northern California, seriously, 'cause those trees are awesome. :)

Angie

Riot Kitty said...

That is pretty neat. My dreams aren't that productive or interesting!

Charles Gramlich said...

Cloudia, a fascinating trail to follow.

Chris, in my flying dreams I usually need to jump off of something, so if there is nothing high around I may have a hard time taking off.

Patti, it works!

Mark, yeah, quite a few people thought the game was over then. They were wrong.

Riot Kitty, not sure about productive, but fun.

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, I would love to see Redwoods. That scar sounds almost exactly like what I dreamed, although I've seen such scars here in the forest of course.

Barbara Martin said...

Charles, you may have had a vision of sorts, rather than a dream. Messages are conveyed in a variety of ways that may not seem apparent at the time of receiving them. Yours was vivid and compelling.

Richard Prosch said...

Interesting about touching the ceiling. Have you every experienced sleep paralysis --semi-lucid, can't move, roaring in the ears? It's both peaceful and scary as hell.

David Cranmer said...

I grabbed a book from the library. One of those Dummies collections but this one on dreams. I recommend it, Charles. Its given me some new directions to go toward in recording them.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barbara, I don't know. I guess it would be difficult to tell the difference. It was certainly detailed.

Richard, I have experienced sleep paralysis quite a few times, and various kinds of things that often go along with it. Very strange.

David, I'll have to have a look at it. I think I've actually seen it before.

jodi said...

Charles-Wow. I would love to get some visits from loved ones that I miss so very much. You are lucky.

Erik Donald France said...

Fantastic. Wonderful. And exciting! I feel blessed/lucky when I have anything like these in lucidity, including flying and forests -- for me, this is sporadic and rare. Also, I've had two dreams involving my Dad since he died a year ago -- precious, but again, sporadic and rare. I imagine these kinds of dreams happen more than we can recall them, as they poof away on waking. Cool beans, man! I wonder if Jung's collective unconscious is true as part of dream manifestations . . . ?

Charles Gramlich said...

Jodi, it's great when it happens.

Erik, the more effort you put into dream recall the better. I tend to be lucky but I can also put in more effort and get much more back from dreams.