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.