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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Pinch Me

The difference between dreams and reality is not always clear. Some claim there is no difference, that dreams are just as real as waking reality, and there are still others who claim that what we (normal people) perceive as dreams and reality are actually reversed. They’re wrong of course, but it’s interesting conversation fodder for the weak-minded and the less-endowed in the ambition department.

Today’s discussion is a bit more practical than that. When you’re awake, you generally don’t seriously suspect that you’re dreaming; sometimes in jest you might say, “pinch me” when faced with unusual circumstances, but for the mentally healthy, it’s really not a problem, not knowing if you’re dreaming when you’re awake. On the other hand, when you actually are dreaming, it rarely occurs to you to question whether or not you’re awake, no matter how bizzare or unlikely the scenario your subconscious has concocted.

Before we go too much further, let’s agree on terms. By “dreaming,” I’m only talking about where your mind goes while you’re sleeping – not daydreams, hallucinations, fantasies, or wishful thinking. And BTW, I’ve always cringed at the dictum, “may all your dreams come true.” If all my dreams came true, the world would be one seriously messed up place. Of the dreams I can remember, I’d say only about a quarter of them are actually good. Most are just weird or distorted versions of what I experienced during the previous day. Approximately 5% of them are really bad, like I killed someone, or lost a child in a crowded city, or was getting divorced, and I’m relieved when I wake up. And even of the actually good dreams, if they actually did come true, it would be like the logistical quagmire that was produced in the movie “Bruce Almighty” when Bruce, standing in for God, got lazy and just answered every prayer in the affirmative.

So, my favorite questions to answer being the ones that nobody’s asking, and the question of the day is, how can I tell if I’m dreaming? I don’t think there’s a single good general answer, but here are some specific circumstances I’ve found to indicate that you’re dreaming and not experiencing objective reality:

You can breathe underwater.
You can fly.
You can run extremely fast, or for extremely long distances without getting worn out.
You can jump over wide chasms.
A foreign citizen gets elected president and nobody even checks his ID.
You can walk through fire, or a blizzard, without feeling it.
You fall out of an airplane or off of a large building (this could happen in reality, but then you wouldn’t be around to read this fine discourse).
You find lots of money or other valuables just lying around.
An extremely unlikely member of the opposite sex (or same sex if you swing that way) is attracted to you.
You’re in prison, on in a strange country, or in a singularly dull business conference (see if you can figure out where I’m at while writing this) and you don’t know how you got there.
You can drive underwater.
Your car can fly.
You can drive your car or an other vehicle straight up or straight down a building or a cliff.
You drive all the way from Houston to Orlando without stopping for a restroom break, laboring under the delusion that adult diapers and a BB gun are somehow going to straighten out your love life.
You can communicate with dead people, or animals, or infants, or space aliens.
You can speak unlearned foreign or nonexistent languages
The speaker at the business conference is interesting and ends on time and doesn’t use a lot of tired cliches.
You made it to the end of a VOBNS column and have a vague understanding of what it’s about.

Are any of these things happening right now? Wake up!


  • At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Simple Bostic said…

    Liked the article.You have a new fan :-)


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